(Corrects Condoleezza Rice to Susan Rice in paragraph 6,
removes reference to national security veterans from both
parties in first paragraph)
By Dustin Volz
WASHINGTON Feb 6 National security veterans and
major U.S. technology companies expressed opposition to Donald
Trump's temporary travel ban in a court case as his
administration prepared on Monday to justify the measure, the
most controversial policy of his two-week old presidency.
Trump's executive order of Jan. 27, temporarily barring
entry to the United States of people from seven Muslim-majority
countries and halting the U.S. refugee program, was suspended by
a federal judge in Seattle on Friday. That opened a window for
travelers from the seven countries to enter.
The government now has until 3 p.m. PST (2300 GMT) on Monday
to submit additional legal briefs to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court
of Appeals in San Francisco in support of Trump's order. A
decision either way may ultimately result in the case reaching
the U.S. Supreme Court.
The new Republican president, who has said the travel
measures are to protect the country against the threat of
terrorism, has reacted to challenges to his ban by attacking the
federal judge in Seattle and then the wider court system.
Ten former U.S. national security and foreign policy
officials, who served under both Republican and Democratic
presidents, filed a declaration in the court case arguing the
travel ban serves no national security purposes.
It was signed by former secretaries of state John Kerry and
Madeleine Albright, former national security adviser Susan Rice
and former CIA directors Michael Hayden and Michael Morell.
Over the weekend, the appeals court in San Francisco denied
the administration's request for an immediate suspension of the
federal judge's temporary restraining order that blocked the
implementation of key parts of the travel ban.
But the court did say it would consider the government's
request after receiving more information. Trump faces an uphill
battle in the San Francisco court, which is dominated by
liberal-leaning judges. And appeals courts are generally leery
of upending the status quo, which in this case is the suspension
of the ban.
On a visit to the military's Central Command headquarters in
Tampa, Florida, Trump defended his order.
"Radical Islamic terrorists are determined to strike our
homeland as they did on 9/11," he said. "We need strong programs
for people who love our country," Trump said, adding that
he did not want to allow "people who want to destroy us and
destroy our country" into the United States.
The measures put a 90-day ban on entry for citizens from
Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and a 120-day
halt to all refugees.
Top technology companies, including Apple, Google
and Microsoft banded together with nearly 100
firms on Sunday to file a "friend-of-the-court" brief with the
appeals court, arguing the travel ban "inflicts significant harm
on American business, innovation, and growth."
Curbing entry to the United States as a national security
measure was a central premise of Trump's run for office,
originally proposed during his campaign as a temporary ban on
U.S. presidents have in the past claimed sweeping powers to
fight terrorism, but individuals, states and civil rights groups
challenging the travel order say his administration has offered
no evidence it answers a threat. Protesters have taken to the
street accusing Trump of discriminating against Muslims.
The government says the president is exercising his
constitutional authority to control borders and that the law
allows him to suspend the entry of any class of foreigners who
"would be detrimental to the interest of the United States."
The New America think tank says that all of the people who
have carried out fatal attacks inspired by Islamist militancy in
the United States since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks have been
U.S. citizens or legal residents. None of those attackers
emigrated or came from a family that emigrated from one of the
countries listed in the travel ban. (bit.ly/2keSmUO)
A businessman who had never held public office until he
assumed the presidency on Jan. 20, Trump has vented his
frustration over the legal challenges with a volley of attacks
on the judiciary.
Trump derided U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle,
who issued the temporary stay on Friday, as a "so-called judge."
On Sunday, he broadened his Twitter attacks on Robart, who
was appointed by former Republican President George W. Bush, to
include the "court system."
"Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such
peril," Trump tweeted. "If something happens blame him and court
system." Trump did not elaborate on what threats the country
It is unusual for a sitting president to attack a member of
the judiciary, which the U.S. Constitution designates as a check
on the power of the presidency and Congress. Democrats seized on
Trump's remarks to raise questions about how independent his
Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, might be.
(Additional reporting by Lawrence Hurley and Susan Heavey in
Washington; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama
and Frances Kerry)