If there was ever any doubt that the federal government is under new management, the swift firing of the acting Attorney General for direct insubordination should put it all to rest. The Trump administration does not tolerate dissent in its ranks, and it is doubtful that leaks and off the record conversations will continue to be a modus operandi, either. Donald Trump is, first and foremost, a chief executive officer. He knows how to run a tight ship. In the corporate world, there is only a select group of spokespeople for the company.
When Trump released his Temporary, 90 day Immigration hold on travelers from seven nations known to be hot spots of terrorism, not simply the acting Attorney General took exception, but thousands of State Department employees both here and abroad. Not only that, as they are not charged with executing and upholding the law, there is a provision for them to publicly disagree with the president whether he likes it or not.
The mechanism is called a “dissent cable” and as of this writing, over 1,000 members of the State Department signed it.
Within hours, a State Department dissent cable, asserting that President Trump’s executive order to temporarily bar citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries would not make the nation safer, traveled like a chain letter — or a viral video.
The cable wended its way through dozens of American embassies around the world, quickly emerging as one of the broadest protests by American officials against their president’s policies. And it is not over yet.
By 4 p.m. on Tuesday, the letter had attracted around 1,000 signatures, State Department officials said, far more than any dissent cable in recent years. It was being delivered to management, and department officials said more diplomats wanted to add their names to it.
That is 1,000 out of over 18,000 civil servants and foreign service personnel. These were simply the people who were comfortable enough to do so. Dissent cables are a way for the personnel to express their opinions without reprisal – by law. There is little doubt that many others did not publicly express their opinions for fear of being passed over for promotions in the coming months and years regardless of the legal status of the petition.
There are those that believe the Trump Administration is displaying a bit of hypocrisy when it comes to firing an acting Attorney General for insubordination, and allowing cabinet picks to voice opinions that differ from those the President espouses. The two cannot be compared. One is disobeying a direct order. The other is strictly an opinion based on what might well be incomplete facts. And the cabinet nominees are adults. They know the potential pitfalls of disagreeing publicly with the boss.
Asked about criticisms from of Trump’s Muslim ban from within the administration, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters this week, “These career bureaucrats have a problem with it? They should either get with the program or they can go.”
And that is the crux of the problem that needs to be rooted out. The entrenched career diplomats who are about to be led by a man who is considered to be a diplomatic neophyte, Rex Tillerson who ran the world’s largest corporation, are not happy about a changing status quo. Neither are the mainstream media sorts who stand to lose valuable contacts within the cabinet departments as leakers and confidential sources are rooted out by the information they divulge. Trump and his team did not get where they are by running a sloppy ship. The reality is that the federal government is in for a huge change.
And by the way, the order was not a “Muslim Ban.” If it was, Indonesia, Turkey, Nigeria, and several other largely muslim nations would head the list.