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ICYMI: John Kelly the “Grownup”? Forget It — Homeland Security Chief Turns Out to be Another Trump Zealot

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Digby: “Kelly is a genuine Trump guy”

In her latest piece for Salon, Heather Digby Parton dives into Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly’s all-too-eager implementation of President Donald Trump’s radical immigration policies. It’s a must read.

The article is excerpted below and available online here.

Over the weekend, Politico reported that Democrats are becoming alarmed that the director of the Department of  Homeland Security, retired Gen. John Kelly, isn’t the calming influence on Trump that they had hoped. For some reason they believed Kelly would rein in Trump’s draconian policies on immigration and security. They were wrong, according to Politico:

Instead, Kelly has moved to impose those policies with military rigor. He has pursued an aggressive deportation campaign; defended Trump’s effort to ban visitors from several Muslim-majority countries; and hinted that he might separate migrant parents from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border. Kelly has joked with Trump about using violence against reporters and defended Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, amid allegations that he tried to set up a secret back channel to the Russian government.

Today, it’s tough to find anyone on the left willing to defend Kelly. He has alienated potential allies on Capitol Hill, including Democrats who voted to confirm him, and is endangering his reputation as a nonpartisan figure in a presidential administration that has relatively few.

Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey said, “I think Secretary Kelly has drank the Kool-Aid. He’s not the person who I thought I was voting for.”

Kelly was confirmed easily, in an 88 to 11 Senate vote, because Democrats were soothed by his promise that he wouldn’t target Dreamer kids for deportation. Apparently that was the only thing they bothered to ask because if they had looked a little bit more closely at this former Marine Corps general they would have seen that he was Trump’s guy all the way.

For instance, in 2014 when he was still in the Marines and the head of U.S. Central Command, Kelly claimed that the influx of child refugees from Central America presented an existential threat to American national security.

He warned that neglect of the border had created vulnerabilities that could be exploited by terrorist groups, describing a “crime-terror convergence” already seen in Lebanese Hezbollah’s alleged involvement in the region (a onetime assertion made in a congressional report a decade ago.) He said there exists an “incredibly efficient network” by which terrorists and weapons of mass destruction could travel into the United States.

The Southern Command under Kelly was intensely focused on “narcoterrorism” and he was a zealot on the subject. He toldBreakingDefense.com that he believed the nation was seriously threatened by a nexus between what “known terrorist organizations and illicit smuggling and money-laundering networks.” Kelly added, “There are those in the intelligence community who take the view that it is not a major threat and argue that those groups will never find common cause. I think those who take that view are simply trying to rationalize away the problem because no one wants to raise another major threat at a time when we face so many around the world.”

In short, he has been a border-security fanatic for some time, a fact that Sen. Menendez should have known, since he was a member of the Foreign Relations Committee and heavily involved in immigration reform efforts.


Kelly’s explanation for the deportation of women and children applying for refugee status is just heartless. When he headed the Southern Command, Kelly spoke at great length about collapsing societies in Central America. (This is often affected by murderous gang violence cultivated in American prisons — something Kelly never acknowledges.) But he sees this problem only as a threat and shows no sympathy for the innocent people caught in the crossfire. As the homeland security director, he defended the deportation of a Honduran woman without a criminal record along with her child to return to certain violence in her home country; he said asylum seekers “parrot well-worn phrases to get a shot at staying in the United States.”

Kelly is a genuine Trump guy like Sessions, not one of those so-called patriots who took the job for the good of the country to try to temper Trump’s worst instincts. He is efficiently and enthusiastically carrying out the president’s extremist agenda. These “disappointed” Democrats should have looked more closely at the general’s record before they gave him a bipartisan mandate.

Also view: Democrats Have Buyer’s Remorse About Trump’s Homeland Security Chief by Elise Foley, Huffington Post.