Donald Trump’s Racism and Dangerous Lawlessness Revealed in Response to New York Attack; Proposal to Send Sayfullo Saipov to Guantánamo is Shameful


Don't say you weren't warned: the New York Daily News' front page on the day Trump announced his intention to run as a presidential candidate - in June 2015.Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration.


What a nasty racist clown Donald Trump is.

In response to the arrest of Sayfullo Saipov, a permanent US resident of Uzbek origin who is charged with killing eight people in an attack in New York, the Washington Post reported the following:

President Trump said Wednesday that he is considering sending the Uzbek immigrant accused of killing eight people in Tuesday’s terrorist attack in New York to the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and that the United States must be “much tougher” with its treatment of terror suspects.

Trump also called on Congress to immediately dismantle the State Department’s Diversity Visa Lottery program, through which authorities have said the suspected attacker, Sayfullo Saipov, came to the United States from Uzbekistan.

The Post also stated:

“Diversity lottery — sounds nice. It’s not nice,” Trump told reporters at the White House during a meeting with his Cabinet. “It’s not good. It’s not good. It hasn’t been good. We’ve been against it.”

He added, “I am today starting the process of terminating the diversity lottery program. I am going to ask Congress to immediately initiate work to get rid of this program.”

Speaking generally, Trump said U.S. immigration laws and the criminal justice system’s handling of suspects are “a joke” and “a laughingstock.”

“We have to get much tougher,” he said. “We have to get much smarter. And we have to get much less politically correct. We’re so politically correct that we’re afraid to do anything.”

Trump said the United States needs a system of “punishment that’s far quicker and far greater than the punishment these animals are getting right now. They’ll go through court for years … We need quick justice, and we need strong justice.”

As if this assault on immigration procedures and the very basis of the judicial system wasn’t alarming enough, Trump also called Saipov an “animal,” and, as the Post put it, “said the 29-year-old was responsible for the entry of 23 immigrants, many of them family members,” adding that what he called this “chain migration” endangers national security.

In a typically garbled statement, Trump said, “This man that came in, or whatever you want to call him, brought in with him other people, and he was the primary point of contact for — and this is preliminarily — 23 people that came in or potentially came in with him. That’s not acceptable.”

Trump’s comments about Guantánamo came after a reporter asked him whether Saipov should be sent there. Trump replied, “I would certainly consider that, yes. Send him to Gitmo. I would certainly consider that.”

In response, Anthony D. Romero, executor director of the American Civil Liberties Union, issued the following statement:

President Trump’s reaction to the tragedy in New York represents a trifecta of unconstitutional and wrong-headed policies. His call for more ‘extreme vetting’ and an end to the diversity visa program — which will unfairly target Muslim and African immigrants — would double down on his Muslim ban and anti-immigrant policies.

Sending Saipov to Guantánamo or treating him as an ‘enemy combatant’ would violate due process and the rule of law. The FBI and our federal court system are more than capable of dealing with terrorism cases, and Guantánamo was shown long ago to be an epic failure. It’s a shame that Trump is using this attack as a platform for pushing his anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim agenda.

Romero is correct to point out that US citizens are not allowed to be held at Guantánamo — and, of course, to take aim at Trump’s racism, and to call it out for what it is.

The Center for Constitutional Rights, which has represented Guantánamo detainees for 15 years, also issued a statement that further spelled out Trump’s horrendous anti-Muslim bias:

Guantánamo Bay is and always has been a prison exclusively for Muslims, which is undoubtedly the only reason Donald Trump made the idiotic suggestion to send Sayfullo Saipov there. Fifteen years has proven no one will ever be successfully tried or “brought to justice” at Guantánamo, and the president and his supporters within his own party are deluded if they believe otherwise.

Trump’s hatred of immigrants and Muslims emboldens white supremacists and strengthens terrorist groups like ISIS. He cares little for the escalating violence inspired by his statements or the damage to institutions of democratic government he is intent on undermining.

I thoroughly agree with the positions taken by ACLU and CCR, of course, and am so sorry for my American friends, who have to deal with this ill-thought out racism and lawlessness on an almost daily basis. US citizens can’t be sent to Guantánamo, but no one else should be either, and Trump should give up his petulant posturing and take sound advice for once — close Guantánamo, try terrorists in federal court, and stop trying to make isolated incidents into excuses to try to revive his unacceptable notions that sweeping, blanket bans on immigration are in any way either fair, just or legal.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose music is available via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Donald Trump No! Please Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2017), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

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19 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, looking at Donald Trump’s disgraceful response to the terrorist attack in New York that killed eight – his proposal to send the suspect, Sayfullo Saipov, a permanent US resident of Uzbek origin, to Guantanamo (which is not allowed under US law), his typically sweeping and unacceptable assault on US immigration policies, and his disgraceful suggestions that what is needed is a system of “punishment that’s far quicker and far greater than the punishment these animals are getting right now. They’ll go through court for years … We need quick justice, and we need strong justice.” Were you thinking of summary executions, Donald, because it sounds like it? Some stinking white supremacist Wild West fantasy? You are a disgrace to your office.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Here’s the response of Rev. Ron Stief, the executive director of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture: “In this day of mourning, we must unify as a people, holding fast to our shared values and demanding justice – not revenge – for the attack in New York City. Indefinite detention without trial in Guantanamo is un-American, illegal, immoral, and is no way to bring justice for the victims of this attack. The suspect should be tried in accordance with U.S. law, not sent to Guantanamo where he may never face the legal consequences of his actions. Every American should resist the calls of those who are using this tragic event to divide us by blaming immigrants, Muslims, or refugees for this attack. Now is not the time to look for scapegoats, rather it is a moment to stand together in unity against acts of senseless violence.”

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    And how disgusting is the difference in treatment between Sayfullo Saipov and the Las Vegas mass murderer, Stephen Paddock? At a White House press briefing, spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said of Saipov, “I believe we would consider this person to be an enemy combatant,” whereas Paddock was not spoken of in such terms. Al-Jazeera’s article has some analysis of the Trump administration’s double standards:

  4. Donald Trump’s Racism and Dangerous Lawlessness Revealed in Response to New York Attack; Proposal to Send Sayfullo Saipov to Guantánamo is Shameful | Andy Worthington – leftwingnobody says...

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    The New York Times reports that, “by Wednesday evening … Mr. Saipov was charged in federal court in Manhattan,” which is, of course, entirely appropriate. Joshua A. Geltzer, a former Justice Department attorney, told the Times, “’The F.B.I. would lose its mind’ if Mr. Trump transferred Mr. Saipov to military custody … Invoking Jim Mattis, the secretary of defense, Mr. Geltzer added: ‘Why would Mattis want this headache?’”
    This was presumably a disappointment to Donald Trump, and also to the Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who “had told a news conference that Mr. Saipov should be held and interrogated as a military detainee for at least 30 days, rather than being read the Miranda warning and given a defense lawyer.” As Graham put it on Twitter, almost aping Trump’s language at the end of his quote, “The Trump administration missed an important opportunity to send a strong message to terrorists and make America safer. This is a huge mistake. Very sad.”

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    It doesn’t get any better, does it? When Trump backed down on the Guantanamo threat, he tweeted, “Would love to send the NYC terrorist to Guantanamo but statistically that process takes much longer than going through the Federal system,” and then followed up with another dreadful example of his inability to understand what the job of president entails: “There is also something appropriate about keeping him in the home of the horrible crime he committed. Should move fast. DEATH PENALTY!”
    By advocating the death penalty, of course, Trump is prejudicing Sayfullo Saipov’s ability to receive a fair trial.
    This afternoon, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, “addressing a roomful of attorneys and law enforcement officials in the lobby of the Southern District U.S. Attorney’s office in lower Manhattan,” as Politico described it, also waded into the debate, stating, “Terrorists should know this: this administration will use all lawful tools at our disposal, including prosecution in Article III courts or at Guantanamo Bay. If anyone has any doubt about that, they can ask the more than 500 criminals whom the Department of Justice has convicted of terrorism-related offenses since 9/11. And they can ask the dozens of enemy combatants in Guantanamo Bay.”
    As Politico also explained, “Sessions said the diversity visa program ‘makes no sense,’ and constitutes a potential threat to national security. Instead, he argued the U.S. should implement a ‘merit-based’ immigration program.”

  7. Thomas says...

    Put the person on trial with an ok defence lawyer. If he’s found guilty execute him, if he’s not guilty let him go but don’t jail him for life with no trial.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, exactly, Thomas. It worked before 9/11, and it’s the only acceptable way to operate now.

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Tashi Farmilo-Marouf wrote:

    Guilty till proven innocent.

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Tashi Farmilo-Marouf wrote:

    Since Trump took office, more Americans have been killed by white American men with no connection to Islam than by Muslim terrorists or foreigners.
    “White American men are a bigger domestic terrorist threat than Muslim foreigners”:

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Tashi Farmilo-Marouf wrote:

    In 2010, President Obama directed the CIA to assassinate an American citizen in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki, despite the fact that he had never been charged with (let alone convicted of) any crime, and the agency successfully carried out that order a year later with a September 2011 drone strike. While that assassination created widespread debate — the once-again-beloved ACLU sued Obama to restrain him from the assassination on the ground of due process and then, when that suit was dismissed, sued Obama again after the killing was carried out — another drone killing carried out shortly thereafter was perhaps even more significant yet generated relatively little attention.
    “Obama Killed a 16-Year-Old American in Yemen. Trump Just Killed His 8-Year-Old Sister”:

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Mary Shepard wrote:

    Father and son were both killed by drone strikes. neither had been charged with a crime. Because of this, I chose not to vote in 2012. I never forgave Obama for this. and I hope someday he will talk publicly about why he violated the Bill of Rights and ordered the murder of a US citizen.

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    It was a continuation of the post-9/11 retreat from the law, Mary. Bush & co proposed that the entire world was a battlefield, and Obama confirmed it, specifically stepping up the killing of people in drone assassinations in countries the US wasn’t at war with (which Bush began), and, with the al-Awlakis, not excluding US citizens.
    And the UK is doing the same. Our Prime Minister, Theresa May, when home secretary, stripped dual nationals of their UK citizenship so they could be killed in US drone attacks, and the government is now cheerful advocating that anyone British involved with ISIS – including children – should be killed rather than being allowed to re-enter the UK.

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Tashi Farmilo-Marouf wrote:

    6 times more likely to die from a shark attack (one of the rarest forms of death on Earth)
    29 times more likely to die from a regional asteroid strike
    260 times more likely to be struck and killed by lightning
    4,700 times more likely to die in an airplane or spaceship accident
    129,000 times more likely to die in a gun assault
    407,000 times more likely to die in a motor vehicle incident
    6.9 million times more likely to die from cancer or heart disease
    Put another way, as frightening and disturbing as events like 9/11 are, an American’s unfathomably remote chances of winning the Powerball lottery jackpot are many times greater than those of being killed by a refugee terrorist on any given year – and even higher compared to the odds of being killed by an illegal immigrant terrorist.

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Tashi. Very powerful statistics, which we wheel out so often, but which, really, should be permanently on billboards across Western countries, paid for by anti-war philanthropists.

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    Mary Shepard wrote:

    Trump is obviously deeply afraid of Muslims. which explain his nearly hysterical reaction to the incident in NYC. This morning I found myself thinking that George W. Bush handled 9/11 in a much more intelligent and compassionate manner than Trump handled this. America is at its lowest point in history right now. I have considered leaving and relocating to Canada.

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, it’s terribly depressing, Mary, to have a president tweeting that a suspect should be executed, and being so openly racist, xenophobic, Islamaphobic and stupid. However, although George W. Bush understood something of what was required of a president, he was also often unhelpfully inarticulate, and although he may not always have been driving his administration’s policies, he opened Guantanamo, he set up the CIA’s torture program, and he removed the protections of the Geneva Conventions from the Guantanamo prisoners in February 2002, setting the stage for torture that only came to an end in June 2006 with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, reinstating Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. AND he illegally invaded Iraq!
    The truth, sadly, is that 9/11 triggered our countries’ cynical moves to a state of permanent war, that our response to 9/11 – both in counter-terrorism and in warmongering – led to the creation of ISIS and of post-al-Qaeda lone operators, and our response to this has been for our leaders to create a permanent state of fear that has eroded – and continues to erode – our well-being. And all the while, the real problems (because, let’s face it, you’re much more likely to be killed by a car than by a terrorist) are being ignored – the impending environmental catastrophe, the global refugee crisis, and the employment extinction threatened by endless mechanization.

  18. Lucas says...

    I actually agree that Saipov is an animal (he said he was proud of what he did) but he has the right to a fair trial. I’m glad Trump has so far not sent anyone to Guantanamo. Also, Trump demanding the death penalty will probably make it harder for Saipov to actually get that sentence.

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    Good to hear from you, Lucas. Yes, like everyone accused of a crime, Saipov has the right to a fair trial, but, as you note, Donald Trump’s outrageous intervention may well have prejudiced that. It’s really quite extraordinary, isn’t it, that he can tweet a message stating that he should be executed, and doesn’t understand that it’s completely unacceptable for the President of the United States to make such a statement. What a disgrace he is.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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