U.S. government workers resisting against Trump, studying civil disobediance

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U.S. government workers resisting against Trump, studying civil disobediance Empty U.S. government workers resisting against Trump, studying civil disobediance

Post by Ben Reilly on Wed Feb 08, 2017 5:32 pm

As the draft of a State Department letter of dissent made its way through dozens of U.S. embassies abroad, accumulating hundreds of signatures from foreign service officers opposed to Donald Trump’s controversial executive order on immigration, White House press secretary Sean Spicer issued an ominous warning Monday to the nation’s career diplomats: “I think they should get with the program or they can go.”

Since then, however, Foggy Bottom’s small act of resistance has only grown larger. By Tuesday afternoon, the letter condemning President Trump’s temporary ban on migrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries had attracted roughly 1,000 signatures—far more than any dissent cable in recent years. The letter, which was first reported over the weekend, represents the largest organized protest the Trump administration has faced from within the U.S. government. But it is also part of a broader wave of opposition among the legion of federal workers tasked with carrying out the president’s policies.

The State Department isn’t the only federal agency that has been shaken by Trump. An order from the White House to cease all advertising and outreach programs associated with the Affordable Care Act reportedly sent the Department of Health and Human Services into a tailspin, causing the administration to reverse course after less than 24 hours amid protests from H.H.S. and the insurance industry. A temporary gag order was placed on the National Park Service’s social-media accounts after the department shared a side-by-side comparison of Trump and President Barack Obama’s inauguration crowd sizes, spurring an ex-employee at the Badlands National Park to fire off a series of unsanctioned tweets about climate change. A slew of “protest” social-media accounts purportedly run by rogue members of several U.S. agencies—such as @altUSEPA and @ActualEPAFact—have cropped up amid fears that the Environmental Protection Agency will be effectively silenced under the new administration.

Then there was Trump’s high-profile firing on Monday of Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, which sent reportedly tremors throughout the bureaucracy. John O’Grady, a career E.P.A. employee who heads a national council of E.P.A. unions, told The Washington Post that the White House’s decision to can Yates after she refused to defend Trump’s immigration directive “sends kind of a chilling effect through the agency. I’m afraid at this point that many federal employees are just fearful for their jobs, and they want to keep their heads down.”

Others, however, view resistance as a part of the job. “Policy dissent is in our culture,” one diplomat in Africa, who signed the letter circulating among foreign diplomats, told The New York Times. “We even have awards for it,” this person added, in reference to the State Department’s “Constructive Dissent” award. One Justice Department employee told the Post, “You’re going to see the bureaucrats using time to their advantage,” and added that “people here will resist and push back against orders they find unconscionable,” by whistle-blowing, leaking to the press, and lodging internal complaints. Others are staying in contact with officials appointed by President Obama to learn more about how they can undermine Trump’s agenda and attending workshops on how to effectively engage in civil disobedience, the Post reports.


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Ben Reilly
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