By: Bruce Lisman
The tragic events in Paris should be the catalyst for all of us in Vermont and America to come together and address the best ways we can remain safe and enjoy our abundant freedoms.
Unfortunately, Governor Shumlin’s first priority following Paris seems to be exploiting the tragedy for political gain and bullying his opponents. Contrary to the Governor’s distortions, here are my views on the important recent events.
On Tuesday, November 17, I was asked whether we should continue to admit Syrian refugees to the U.S. in light of recent events.
I called for a time out, noting that the terror in Paris had heightened concerns that dangerous people could inadvertently come into the U.S. And, I said that until serious questions about the federal government’s ability to screen terrorists from refugees are answered we should take a step back.
Shortly after, Governor Shumlin lashed out, among other things accusing me of stoking hatred and bigotry.
Before engaging in personal, vitriolic attacks, the Governor should take a dispassionate look at the facts.
ISIS has been on a roll for the past two weeks and they consistently trumpet they will do great harm to us. They have said they want to infiltrate the U.S. among refugees and using fake passports more broadly. And shortly after the Governor’s remarks five U.S. bound Syrians trying to make their way to the U.S. with stolen Greek passports were arrested in Honduras.
There are other major reasons for concern.
- A fake Syrian passport was found near the body of one of the Paris terrorists;
- There is a flourishing market for fake Syrian passports as The Atlantic has reported;
- There are no Syrian databases we can use to screen out terrorists;
- The FBI says they do not have enough agents to track ISIS sympathizers already here;
- In Congressional testimony last month, FBI Director James Comey warned of serious challenges in screening Syrian refugees.
Given all the above and more, it is very reasonable to ask for a ‘time out’ to make sure our checks of refugees are as thorough and fully satisfactory as possible. That is what I am advocating. New Hampshire’s Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan has a similar position. Many other prominent Democrats, including Senators Chuck Schumer, Dianne Feinstein, and Joe Manchin have called for a time out or indicated they are likely to support one.
Rather than attacking those who disagree with him, Gov. Shumlin should be doing all he can to protect Vermonters, including those Americans who have gone to Syria, potential lone wolfs, and others.
And while Governor Shumlin may have confidence in the Obama Administration to protect us from ISIS and prevent their infiltration into the U.S., I and many Vermonters do not. ISIS is a cancer on the world that has exponentially grown under President Obama’s watch and the Governor should be weary of uncritically accepting the President’s assurances on anything to do with ISIS.
Furthermore, the Governor seems more concerned about publicly pontificating and getting himself in the news on what is largely a national issue, rather than doing the hard work he should as Governor.
The position of Phil Scott on this issue is confusing. He has changed his position following withering criticism initiated by the Governor. While I know the Governor’s charges that Phil is hateful and bigoted have no basis, it is disappointing to see that Phil has not stood by his initial very reasonable views.
If privileged to serve as Governor of the great state of Vermont, I will make sure that our law enforcement agencies have the best working relationship with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to keep Vermont as safe as possible. That will be my focus, and my duty.
Bruce Lisman of Shelburne is a Republican candidate for Governor of Vermont.