Who is Gen. John Kelly?
Gen. John Kelly, nominee for secretary of homeland security, is a retired U.S. general and former head of the U.S. Southern Command, which oversees U.S. military operations in Central and South America, including Guantanamo Bay. Gen. Kelly served with distinction for four decades, and no one can question the sacrifices he and his family have made in service to this country. However, his history of military service raises serious questions about his nomination for secretary of homeland security, especially under a president-elect who promised hard-line and reckless national security and immigration policies.
Top 3 reasons to resist Gen. John Kelly’s nomination
- Trump naming 3 generals for top national security spots threatens the bedrock principle of civilian control of the military.
President-elect Donald Trump—the only person ever to become president with no previous government, military, or national security experience—has now nominated three recently retired generals to oversee America’s national security policy. This unprecedented number of recently retired generals potentially serving in top national security posts in the Trump administration threatens to undermine the bedrock democratic principle of civilian control over national security. And in the case of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, an over-reliance on military decision-makers could easily mean an excess of hawkish and militaristic policies coming from the primary domestic security agency of the U.S. government.
- Gen. Kelly strongly opposed Obama’s efforts to close Gitmo and defended questionable tactics used against detainees.
Gen. Kelly’s hawkish past is especially on display especially when it comes to his record as head of U.S. Southern Command, when he oversaw operations at Guantanamo Bay. Gen. Kelly publicly clashed with the Obama administration over closure of the prison, and he staunchly defended the questionable military tactics taken against detainees. He brushed off human rights groups’ criticism of Guantanamo interrogation tactics as “foolishness” in 2014. This attitude is especially concerning given his boss’s inflammatory rhetoric on torture and interrogation.
- Gen. Kelly, a border hawk, would likely play a role in implementing Trump’s signature plan to build a wall.
Don’t expect Gen. Kelly to be the voice of reason on Trump’s most extreme immigration proposals, such as the border wall. Gen. Kelly previously expressed support for building a wall or a fence to increase security on the southern border. Kelly caught the eye of the Trump team in 2015 after he delivered a hawkish testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee in which he warned of the potential threat of terrorist networks crossing the southern border and expressed deep concern that smuggling networks in the Southern Hemisphere “are a vulnerability that terrorists could seek to exploit.” A friendly reminder: Trump’s border wall plan has a price tag of somewhere between $15 billion and $25 billion.
How you can #ResistKelly
The secretary of homeland security must be confirmed by a majority of the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and a majority vote on the floor of the Senate.
Call, write, or tweet:
- Ron Johnson (R-WI) at 202.224.5323
- John McCain (R-AZ) at 202.224.2235
- Rob Portman (R-OH) at 202.224.3353
- Rand Paul (R-KY) at 202.224.4343
- James Lankford (R-OK) at 202.224.5754
- Michael Enzi (R-WY) at 202.224.3424
- John Hoeven (R-ND) at 202.224.2551
- Steve Daines (R-MT) (202.224.2651)
and demand that they examine and question Kelly’s record before deciding how they will vote.