Sunday, January 10, 2010

National Security At The End Of Obama's First Year

March, 2009

This administration prefers to avoid using the term 'Long War' or 'Global War on Terror' . . . please pass on to your speech writers. Please use 'Overseas Contingency Operation.'

E-Mail to Pentagon staff from Dave Riedel, DOD Office Of Security, reported in the Washington Post


Der Spiegel: Madame Secretary, in your first testimony to the US Congress as Homeland Security Secretary you never mentioned the word “terrorism.” Does Islamist terrorism suddenly no longer pose a threat to your country?

Napolitano: Of course it does. I presume there is always a threat from terrorism. In my speech, although I did not use the word “terrorism,” I referred to “man-caused” disasters. That is perhaps only a nuance, but it demonstrates that we want to move away from the politics of fear . . .

Interview of the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, 16 March 2009, Der Spiegel
June, 2009

- Arkansas Jihadi Attack

“I am deeply saddened by this senseless act of violence against two brave young soldiers who were doing their part to strengthen our armed forces and keep our country safe. I would like to wish Quinton Ezeagwula a speedy recovery, and to offer my condolences and prayers to William Long’s family as they mourn the loss of their son.”

Entire statement of President Obama on the jihadi shooting of two soldiers at an Arkansas Recruiting Station, 3 June 2009
September 2009

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R-S.C): Can you give me a case in United States history where a enemy combatant caught on a battlefield was tried in civilian court?

ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I don't know. I'd have to look at that. I think that, you know, the determination I've made -

GRAHAM: We're making history here, Mr. Attorney General. I'll answer it for you. The answer is no.

Attorney Gen. Eric Holder trying to justify the Obama Administration decision to stop military tribunal proceedings in which Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had pled guilty and to transfer KSM to New York Federal District Court for a civilian trial.
Nov., 2009 – Maj. Nadal Hasan's Jihadi Attack At Ft. Hood

“We don’t know all the answers yet and I would caution against jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts . . .

Statement of President Obama, 9 November 2009, given three days after jihadi massacre of soldiers at Ft. Hood Texas by Major Nadal Hasan. The statement was given after it was established that Hasan had worn Pakistani garb and yelled 'Allah Akbar' during the terrorist attack, and that he had posted pieces on the internet in support of suicide bombings.


"No faith justifies these murderous and craven acts; no just and loving God looks upon them with favor," . . .

- Statement of Barack Obama at Ft. Hood Memorial Service, 10 Nov. 2009, not once mentioning Maj. Hasan directly, nor calling this mass murder a terrorist act. It was Obama's final statement on the attack
Christmas, 2009 -

"The system worked."

- Janet Napolitano, CNN Interview, 26 Dec. 2009, discussing the attempted bombing of Northwest Flight to Detroit that failed only by an act of God and/or jihadi incompetence.


"Our system did not work"

- Janet Napolitano, 27 Dec. 2009, apparently changing her mind as to whether acts of God or jihadi incompetence are integral parts of our "system" to protect American lives.


"There are many more like me who will strike soon."

- Intelligence provided by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to U.S. Officials in the immediate aftermath of the attempted suicide bombing, The Telegraph, 28 Dec.


On Christmas Day, . . . a passenger allegedly tried to ignite an explosive device on his body, . . . the suspect was immediately subdued . . . The suspect is now in custody and has been charged with attempting to destroy an aircraft. . . . [A]n alert and courageous citizenry are far more resilient than an isolated extremist.

- President Obama, telling the nation that Abdulmutallab was unconnected with any other terrorists while apparently shilling for a role on Law & Order, 28 Dec. 2009



- Intelligence provided to U.S. Officials by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab since being provided Constitutional protections and a lawyer


Asked why Abdulmutallab should cooperate given his right, as criminal defendant, to remain silent, Brennan replied: "He doesn't have to but he knows there are certain things that are on the table... if he wants to engage with us in a productive manner, there are ways he can do that."

White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan discussing plea bargains being offered to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in order to induce him to cooperate with FBI questioning.


We know that he traveled to Yemen, a country grappling with crushing poverty and deadly insurgencies. It appears that he joined an affiliate of al-Qaida, and that this group — al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula — trained him, equipped him with those explosives and directed him to attack that plane headed for America,” the president said.

- President Obama, Weekly Radio Address to the Nation, 2 January 2010


The buck stops here . . . We are at war. We are at war against al Qaeda.

. . . We will not succumb to a siege mentality that sacrifices the open society and liberties and values that we cherish as Americans . . . Instead of giving into cynicism and division, let's move forward with the confidence and optimism and unity that defines us as a people. For now is not a time for partisanship, it's a time for citizenship . . .

- President Obama, Text of Speech, 7 January 2010, making a pro forma acceptance of responsibility, but attacking his critics for not having the high morals and values of the rest of America.


This has been a year of On The Job Training for a deeply ideological President devoid of any prior executive, foreign policy, intelligence or military experience. His amateurism and partisanship have become ever clearer – and ever more dangerous to America's national security - as the year has progressed.

In 2009, Obama took over from a Bush administration whose policies in the war on terror were themselves imperfect, but which had been effective in protecting our nation from attack following 9-11. The Bush administration succeeded in killing thousands of al Qaeda members and greatly tarnishing al Qaeda's image with victory in Iraq. To the extent the Bush's policies were imperfect, it was because he did not fully engage in the war of ideas. Bush never publicly identified the sects at the root of al Qaeda, though, covertly, he did authorize a variety of programs to engage in the war of ideas. It is not clear which, if any, of those programs are still ongoing.

After nine years of the war on terror, two absolute truths have become evident. One is that the alpha and omega of the physical war against terror is accurate and timely intelligence. Because al Qaeda is a disjointed and diffuse enemy with no fixed positions, no uniforms, and no easy means of identification, accurate and timely intelligence is the only means by which we can find, fix and destroy the enemy and it is the only means by which and we can identify and disrupt al Qaeda's planned attacks. Within the rubric of “timely and accurate” intelligence, it has also become abundantly clear that our most significant actionable intelligence has been generated by interrogation of captured enemy combatants.

The second truth is that al Qaeda is founded upon a religious ideal that must be challenged in a war of ideas. Al Qaeda will continuously rise from its own ashes if its underlying religious ideology is not ameliorated or marginalized in the Islamic world.

Enter Obama.

On some issues relating to National Security, Obama has done well by continuing Bush era policies that had proven effective, such as extraordinary rendition and warrantles wiretaps. On one other critically important issue, the war in Afghanistan, Obama has at least gotten things half right. Nonetheless, Obama has significantly weakened our national security by politicizing key aspects of it and, as to Islamic terrorism, by refusing to engage in the war of ideas.

Politicizing Our National Security

Obama's initial strategy towards the war on terror was to deemphasize it to the point of wiping it from America's consciousness. In Orwellian fashion, one of Obama's first acts in the war on terror was to dispense with the phrase “war on terror.” This bit of semantic word play seemed the height of ridiculousness – until Obama's Sec. Of Homeland Defense, Janet Napolitano topped it. She dropped the word "terrorism" from her lexicon substituting “man caused disasters” as a means of doing away with the “politics of fear.” One wonders how many people must be killed by radicalized Muslims, how many need to be slowly beheaded by them on tape, before “fear” becomes acceptable.

Obama dealt with the first two terrorist incidents on his watch - the jihadi murder of a U.S. soldier in Arkansas and the jihadi massacre at Ft. Hood - by refusing to explicitly acknowledge that they were in fact acts of Islamic terrorism. Obama's initial response to the third terrorist incident, the Christmas undiebomber, was to ignore all of the evidence, including the “suspect's” admitted ties to al Qaeda, and to refer to him as an “isolated extremist.” It wasn't until Obama made his fifth statement on the undiebomber - nearly two weeks after the event and after he had been roundly criticized by Cheney, et. al. - that Obama finally decided to include the words in his speech that “we are at war with al Qaeda.” No kidding? One wonders how many internal polls and focus groups it took to convince Obama to add that into his speech.

Semantics aside, when Obama came into office, the starting point for his assessment should have been to determine what he could lawfully do to protect and defend America – since that is in fact pretty central to HIS JOB DESCRIPTION. Instead, Obama superimposed his warped morality on the mosaic of our national security. Obama baldly – and wrongly - slapped a label of “torture” on waterboarding and all the techniques of enhanced interrogation. In his effort to demonize the right and establish himself as the nation's Arbiter of Morality In Chief, he began to war on the CIA.

He allowed a witch hunt to go forward against the Office of Legal Council (OLC) attorneys who authored legal opinions responsive to questions asked by the CIA. The subject of those opinions was the legality of certain interrogation techniques. Obama thus ensured that, perhaps for decades to come, we will have risk averse intelligence agencies and that no OLC attorney in their right mind will ever again give legal approval to anything remotely controversial, regardless of what the law and precedent may be.

Obama's next step, in April, was his decision to declassify those portions of the OLC opinions that suited his purpose of attacking the Bush regime. But Obama withheld – and does so even to this day – fully unredacted copies of memos showing that the enhanced interrogation techniques were at the heart of our success in the war against terror during the Bush years.

Assuming that a recent Rasmussen poll regarding U.S. attitudes towards waterboarding and interrogation of the undiebomber is accurate, Obama has clearly failed to convince the nation that his morality should trump his duty to use all legal means to see to the safety of Americans. Yet Obama, ever the ideologue, in his most recent speech, chastised his critics for their moral failings in disagreeing with him.

Obama further damaged the standing and morale of the CIA when, after Nancy Pelosi called the CIA liars over the substance of her briefings on waterboarding, Obama remained silent and allowed the charges to stand. By all accounts, morale at the CIA is at its nadir.

Not satisfied with merely ending the “waterboarding,” Obama went far beyond that. Almost as soon as he took office, Obama not only tossed out all of the techniques of “enhanced interrogation used by the CIA, he limited future interrogations to those 19 techniques used in the Army Field Manual. But the reason enhanced interrogation techniques were developed in the first place was because those techniques set out in the field manual, while they had historically yielded results in over 90% of interrogations since the WWII, proved near worthless when it came to interrogating the religiously motivated fighters of al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Ultimately, Obama took the step of taking the CIA out of the interrogation business. As of August, 2009, all high level interrogations were solely to be carried out by a team controlled by the FBI and under direct White House oversight.

Is there anything else Obama could have done to further degrade our capabilities? Well, yes, the ultimate final step in a total refutation of the war on terror and politicization of our national security – treat terrorists as common criminals, something the 9-11 Commission warned against just a few short years ago.

First was Obama's decision to pull 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed out of the military tribunal system - this coming after KSM had said that he intended to plead guilty and was merely awaiting measurements for a proper sized rope. Now, KSM has a lawyer, he will plead not guilty, he will have a trial in New York City in which he will demand access to state secrets, and he will have an extended trial that will provide him with the penultimate platform for his propaganda against the U.S. Indeed, as Krauthammer pointed out when Obama approved this decision, the whole purpose of the 9-11 attack was to propagandize the grievances and demands of al Qaeda. Now Obama is providing KSM with a second bite at the “big apple.” It is estimated that security for this circus will "exceed $400 million.". As Senator Leslie Graham made crystal clear in his questioning of Atty Gen. Eric Holder, there is not a single legal precedent in our history for this trial. The decision to go ahead with this trial stinks of partisan politics. There can be little doubt that Team Obama's primary motivation is the hope that the trial will ignite all of the old anti-Bush passions in America.

Perhaps the final stake through the heart of our most important of intelligence capabilities - i.e., successfully interrogating captured enemy combatants - came with the decision to transfer the Christmas Day undiebomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, almost immediately into the criminal justice system. In the hours after his capture, Abdulmutallab was "singing like a canary" – he told us that he had trained with al Qaeda in Yemen, that he was involved with the same radical Imam with whom Maj. Hasan had turned to for bloody guidance, and that he was aware of many others training in Yemen to attack America.

This man portended to be a treasure trove of intelligence information on the Yemeni al Qaeda cell and his jihadi brethern now in training to attack America. Yet within hours of these admissions, Abdulmutallab was provided a lawyer and the "Constitutional right” not to answer questions. He has, on advice of counsel, taken advantage of that right. Perhaps the most disgusting aspect of all of this was watching counterterrorism adviser John Brennan admit that the Obama administration is now discussing plea bargains with Abdulmutallab in order to convince him to provide us with intelligence.

Let there be no doubts that this was all gratuitous by the Obama administration. Under the Geneva Convention, we have every right to hold onto Abdulmutallab until hostilities cease, we have every right to interrogate him every waking minute for the rest of his life without a lawyer present, and we are under no compulsion to provide him with any Constitutional rights beyond habeas corpus (and that only thanks to what portends to be the most costly activist Supreme Court decision ever rendered, Boumediene).

[Update: Based on revelations from Senate hearings on Jan. 19, 2010, it would appear that Obama has wholly emasculated our ability to interrogate any al Qaeda figure who is caught in the U.S. Moreover, there is no one who, at this moment in time, is tasked to respond to captured high level al Qaeda operatives overseas.]

After Obama was roundly criticized by Dick Cheney over his insistence on treating terrorism as a criminal justice matter, Obama finally came out in a speech on Jan. 7 and mouthed the words “war on al Qaeda.” Obama then chastised America and his critics for daring to question his superior moral judgment and admonished America to stop the “partisan” rancor. This man's hubris is beyond belief - as is his lack of any sense of irony. The far left, led by Obama, are the people who injected partisanship into the front and center of our national security for the past five years. And it is Obama who, in this past year, has gratuitously weakened our intelligence capabilities as he politicized our national security for partisan gain.

But there are other critical consequences of turning our war on terror into a criminal matter, as pointed out by the editors of the WSJ in a recent article. Those consequences meant fourteen dead in Texas and a near miss in Detroit:

Sen. Joe Lieberman's Homeland Security Committee heard an explanation of how U.S. intelligence agencies decide when to put suspected terrorists on a watch list or a no-fly list.

Timothy Healy, the head of the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center, explained the unit's "reasonable suspicion" standard like this:

"Reasonable suspicion requires 'articulable' facts which, taken together with rational inferences, reasonably warrant a determination that an individual is known or suspected to be or has been engaged in conduct constituting, in preparation for, in aid of, or related to, terrorism and terrorist activities, and is based on the totality of the circumstances. Mere guesses or inarticulate 'hunches' are not enough to constitute reasonable suspicion."

If this sounds like legalistic language, it is. . . . this language is adapted from Terry v. Ohio, a landmark Supreme Court case in 1968 that determined when Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches allows the police to frisk civilians or conduct traffic stops. In other words, foreign terrorists have somehow now been granted Fourth Amendment reasonableness rights that courts intended to protect Americans being searched by the local police. Thus was Abdulmutallab allowed on the airplane with his explosives.

The difference between law-enforcement procedures and preventing terrorism could not be clearer. If a well-respected banker takes the initiative to come to a U.S. embassy in Nigeria to report that he thinks his son is a terrorist, we expect intelligence officers to make "hunches," such as that this person should have his visa reviewed and be searched before getting on a plane. Information is our defense against terrorism, but evidence of terror plots is often incomplete, which is why intelligence requires combining facts with hunches.

The result of prohibiting hunches was that Abdulmutallab was waved through. Information about suspected terrorists flows into a central Terrorist Screening Database, which is then analyzed by the Terrorist Screening Center, where FBI agents apply the "reasonable suspicion" standard to assign people to various watch lists including "selectee" lists and the "no-fly" list. It's at this point where an approach based on domestic law enforcement trump prevention, undermining the use of information.

Aside from concluding that we are misapplying a reasonableness test, the Abdulmutallab investigation likely will conclude that information in the databases of the National Security Agency, CIA and State Department weren't properly mined to connect dots. His name went onto the list of 400,000 people who might have links to terror, but not the list of 14,000 subject to multiple screenings before boarding an airplane or the list of 3,400 people who are not permitted to fly.

The Obama administration has leaned toward treating terrorism as a matter for domestic law enforcement, such as trying terrorists in civilian courts instead of in military tribunals. But this legalistic culture also undermined intelligence in the Fort Hood case in November. The FBI knew that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan had been exchanging emails with a Yemen-based imam with ties to the 9/11 hijackers. The agency, operating by the standards of domestic law enforcement instead of applying information to prevention, surmised that the "content was explainable by his research" and failed to warn the Army of its potential risk.

In contrast, British authorities last May denied Abdulmutallab the right to re-enter the United Kingdom, where he had been president of an Islamic Society while in college. In Britain, domestic intelligence is the job of M15, which unlike the FBI has no power to arrest or responsibility for criminal prosecutions. Instead, it is free to focus on gathering intelligence, making hunches and preventing wrongdoing. The British ban on Abdulmutallab didn't require any FBI-like "reasonable suspicion" test.

After 9/11, the key political issue that went unresolved was what Americans expect from their intelligence agents. We send the mixed message that we want them to prevent attacks, but only if they operate under strict restrictions based on rules crafted for domestic law enforcement.

We have a choice. We can limit how information is used or we can allow smart use of information to prevent attacks. If we continue to choose to limit how information can be used in our defense, we shouldn't be surprised when our defenses fail.

Adds John Leman, former Sec. of the Navy and 9-11 Commission member:

“President Obama just doesn’t get it,” says Lehman. “I don’t think he has a clue. It’s all pure spin. He’s ignoring key issues and taking respectable professionals like John Brennan and turning them into hacks and shills. It’s beyond contempt.”

“The president has ignored the 9/11 Commission’s report,” says Lehman. “This whole idea that we can fix things by jumping higher and faster is ridiculous. The fact is that the system worked just like we said it would work if the president failed to give the Director of National Intelligence the tools he needs: it’s bloated, bureaucratic, layered, and stultified.”

“President Obama continues to totally ignore one of the important thrusts of our 9/11 recommendations, which is that you have to approach counterterrorism as a multiagency intelligence issue, and not as a law-enforcement issue. He’s made a lot of commission’s members angry for dismissing our report and ignoring key recommendations.” Obama, he adds, has taken a “lawyer-like, politically-correct approach” to national security issues like terrorist watchlists and no-fly lists. “You got to blame the president for enforcing the politically-correct and legalistic policies that led to these failures.”

Patisanship, Ideological Blinders & Obama In The War Of Ideas

The physical war on terror is necessary to stop the immediate attacks. But it is in the war of ideas that the true battle lies, for if we do not stop the radicalization of Muslims, then the war on terror will never end. Ultimately, as Tom Friedman recently opined, this is a battle that must be fought within the four corners of Islam itself. But that said, we have an existential motivation to insure that the "good side" wins. This is made all the more critical because the good side, if you will, is not winning. The ideology at the heart of al Qaeda and other radical Islamic groups is very much still on the advance.

The threshold issue in the war of ideas is to identify who, as a group, constitutes “radicalized Muslims.” Islam, like Christianity, is subdivided into numerous different sects, many of which, such as Sufi for example, are peaceful and counsel coexistence. Individually, there are hundreds of millions of Muslims in the world, most of whom would make good citizens, good friends, good neighbors and good family members in the West. Only a portion of them become “radicalized” whether as members of al Qaeda or some of the other radical Islamic groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, the Taliban, and Jamat-I-Islami to name but a few. Those who belong to these groups do in fact share a common thread – virtually all are adherents to the Salafi/Wahhabi school of Islam or a school, such as Deobandi, that has been heavily influenced in all relevant respects by Salafism.

There was a time when Salafism was confined to the back waters of Arabia. That changed when the tribe of Saud, in partnership with the tribe of Waahab, conquered Arabia in the 1930's. Within decades, the Sauds became incredibly wealthy on oil. Now, they spend billions annually exporting Salafi clerics, schools and textbooks to the four corners of the world. Consequently, Salafism is becoming the dominant form of Islam and is effecting every major school of Islam. As I wrote in a prior post:

According to official Saudi information, Saudi funds have been used to build and maintain over 1,500 mosques, 202 colleges, 210 Islamic Centers wholly or partly financed by Saudi Arabia, and almost 2,000 schools for educating Muslim children in non-Islamic countries in Europe, North and South America, Australia and Asia. The North American Islamic Trust - a Wahhabi Salafi organization, owns between 50% and 80% of all mosques in North America. And Salafists are, in many cases, taking over existing Mosques throughout the world. Some very informative expamples include Belgium, Somalia, and Indonesia. And indeed, the Saudi Salafi Islam now exerts significant influence on our educational system, all the way from grade school to university. [On a related note, see the last half of this PJTV video in which Bill Whittle discusses the degree to which radical Islamic organizations have infiltrated law enforcement in America. The second half of the video is here.]

The West's premier orientalist, Professor Bernard Lewis - the man who coined the term "clash of civilizations" half a century ago and who predicted the rise of Islamic terrorism years prior to 9-11 - writes in his book "The Crisis of Islam," that the ideology of Wahhabi / Salafi Islam is the equal of the“KKK” in terms of bigotry and violence (p. 129). Dr. Tawfiq Hamid, a former Salafi terrorist, has written that "the civilized world ought to recognize the immense danger that Salafi Islam poses; it must become informed, courageous and united if it is to protect both a generation of young Muslims and the rest of humanity from the disastrous consequences of this militant ideology." The NYPD, in a 2007 report, “Radicalization In The West” documented Salafism as the common thread and motivating force behind terrorist attacks in the West. Zhudi Jasser, a Muslim reformist, writes on the dangers of Salafism and the efforts to engage it in the war of ideas here. The Center For Islamic Pluralism, a "a think tank that challenges the dominance of American Muslim life by militant Islamist groups," maintains a section on their website called "WahhabiWatch." Perhaps the most cogent description of Salfism goes back a century, to the observations of Winston Churchill:

A large number of Bin Saud's followers belong to the Wahabi sect, a form of Mohammedanism which bears, roughly speaking, the same relationship to orthodox Islam as the most militant form of Calvinism would have borne to Rome in the fiercest times of [Europe's] religious wars.

The Wahhabis profess a life of exceeding austerity, and what they practice themselves they rigorously enforce on others. They hold it as an article of duty, as well as of faith, to kill all who do not share their opinions and to make slaves of their wives and children. Women have been put to death in Wahhabi villages for simply appearing in the streets.

It is a penal offence to wear a silk garment. Men have been killed for smoking a cigarette and, as for the crime of alcohol, the most energetic supporter of the temperance cause in this country falls far behind them. Austere, intolerant, well-armed, and blood-thirsty, in their own regions the Wahhabis are a distinct factor which must be taken into account, and they have been, and still are, very dangerous to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

Salafism has remained virtually unchanged since Churchill's observations. It was only a few years ago that the Saudi courts, applying Salafi Sharia law, ordered the victim of a brutal gang rape to suffer 200 lashes and six months in jail for being outside of her home without the escort of a male family member. To this day, hunting witches and breaking spells are the top duties of the Salafi religious police and, when witches are "caught," they are ritually slaughtered. In the Salafi culture of Saudi Arabia, it has been less than 20 years since the kingdom's senior cleric, the Grand Mufti issued a fatwah declaring "the earth is flat. Whoever claims it is round is an atheist deserving of punishment." And then there is the well known Salafi edict that anyone who converts from Islam is to be slaughtered.

As I pointed out in a post here, Islam, unlike Christianity, is a religion that has never gone through a Rennisance, a Reformation or a Period of Enlightenment. And while the mechanism - itjihad - exists that could lead to such an event, the reality is that Salafists are fighting any change to their interpretations of the Koran and Sunnah with every tool at their disposal, up to and including "slaughtering the takfirs." Moreover, they are using the UN to push for blasphemy laws that would shut down all criticism of Salafism in the Western world.

The vitriol, bigotry, and triumphalism of Salafism are taught to students in schools and madrassas across the world – including in American Islamic schools and Salafi prison ministries. Salafi Islam teaches that its adherents can freely murder non-Muslims or enslave them and rape them. Moreover, Salafists hold that challenging their existing Salafi Koranic interpretations are "redda (apostasy) punishable by death . . ." And indeed, for specific references to these doctrines being taught in a Saudi school in Virginia, read the USCIFR report here.

Salafism is the religion of bin Laden, the religion of Zawahiri, the religion of all the 9-11 hijackers. That said, nothing that I write here is to suggest that all or a majority of Salafists should be stigmitized as radical. But the simple reality we ignore at our peril is that it is from the wellspring of Salafism that virtually all the radicalism of the Muslim world arises.

In the war of ideas, one of the most important steps that Obama could take would be to publicly shine a light on Salafism, both as the feeder for radical Islam and for the barbarity of some of its dogma. That would go very far to starting the type of discussion that could actually bring some semblance of evolution and peaceful change to Salafism. Ignoring Salafism - which, according to ex-CIA agent Bob Baer we have done ever since the 1970's when the Saudi's first began to buy influence in the American body politic - allows it to metastasize in the dark. And it is metastasizing at rapid speed today on the back of Saudi petrodollars. That is a recipe for disaster.

The chance of Obama taking such a necessary and bold step seems nonexistent. The reality is that it has taken Obama a year and three terrorist incidents before he even explicitly acknowledged an act of terrorism as terrorism. Further, in his Cairo speech, Obama chose to address the mythical “ummah” - the entire Muslim world as if it were a single entity. Rather than acknowledge the problems of Salafism and the danger it poses to the rest of the Muslim world , Obama portrayed al Qaeda as “violent extremists” who have “exploited . . . tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims.” That is false. They are not "extremists," they are true believers in all of the Salafi/Wahhabi dogma. [Update: Indeed, a DOD analyst makes precisely that same point in a recent PJTV interview with Bill Whittle.] [Update 2: Mosab Hassan Yousef, son of the founder of Hamas, a Mossad agent and a convert to Christianity, also makes this point.]

Moreover, Salafism is well on its way to dominating Islam When Obama said at the Ft. Hood memorial service "no faith justifies these murderous and craven acts" he sounded poetic, but factualy he could not have been more disingenuous. This not only leaves Americans in the dark, it does a tremendous disservice to that large portion of the Muslim world that is not implicated in the violence of al Qaeda. Worse yet, it makes it that much harder for would-be Islamic "Martin Luther's" to develop the international voices they need to bring change to their religion.

As to al Qaeda specifically, it is an organization that grew out of the jihad against the Soviet Union following their invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. The defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan was portrayed throughout the Muslim world as a victory of jihad over one of the world's superpowers. Capitalizing on this wave of renewed religious pride, bin Laden formally established al Qaeda in 1988 with its goal being the creation of a single world wide caliphate operating under Salafi Sharia law. Al Qaeda's popularity among Muslims grew with every unanswered strike against West, and their ultimate victory seemed preordained by Allah. As Bernard Lewis wrote in the WSJ:

From the writings and the speeches of Osama bin Laden and his colleagues, it is clear that they expected . . . dealing with America, would be comparatively simple and easy. This perception was certainly encouraged and so it seemed, confirmed by the American response to a whole series of attacks--on the World Trade Center in New York and on U.S. troops in Mogadishu in 1993, on the U.S. military office in Riyadh in 1995, on the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, on the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000--all of which evoked only angry words, sometimes accompanied by the dispatch of expensive missiles to remote and uninhabited places.

Thus did al Qaeda grow significantly throughout the 1990's both in recruiting and in support throughout the Muslim world. But after the twin U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, bin Laden made the decision to make Iraq the centerpiece of al Qaeda efforts against the "infidel crusaders," a decision his number two man, Ayman al Zawahiri later echoed. In an event of incredible importance, Iraqi Sunnis rejected al Qaeda and joined America's successful efforts to destroy al Qaeda in Iraq. With this rejection - and later with al Qaeda's defeat in Iraq - the popularity of al Qaeda's brand plummeted throughout the Muslim world.

This from Karen Hughes writing in the Washington Post in Sept., 2007:

Polls in the two nations that have suffered some of the worst of al-Qaeda's violence -- Afghanistan and Iraq -- show that more than 90 percent of those populations have unfavorable views of al-Qaeda and of bin Laden himself.

Pollsters say that it is difficult to find 90 percent agreement that apple pie is American . . .

Support for terrorist tactics has fallen in seven of the eight predominantly Muslim countries polled as part of the Pew Global Attitudes Project since 2002; in most cases, those declines have been dramatic. Five years ago in Lebanon, 74 percent of the population thought suicide bombing could sometimes be justified. Today it's 34 percent -- still too high, but a stark reversal. Similar declines in support have occurred in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia and Jordan.

Perhaps most significant, Muslim populations are increasingly rejecting bin Laden's attempts to pervert their faith. found in April that large majorities in Egypt (88 percent), Indonesia (65 percent) and Morocco (66 percent) agree: "Groups that use violence against civilians, such as Al Qaida, are violating the principles of Islam. Islam opposes the use of such violence." These shifts in attitude are beginning to show up in actions. Sunni leaders in Iraq's Anbar province are working with coalition forces against al-Qaeda because, as one local leader said to journalists, all the terrorists bring is chaos -- "killing people, stealing goats, everything, you name it." After recent terrorist attacks in Algeria, protesters shouted: "Terrorists are not Muslims" and "no to terrorism; don't touch my Algeria."

Thus you can see how important Iraq has been to delegitimizing al Qaeda. In this regard, perhaps Obama's greatest failure in the war of ideas has been his utter ideological refusal to use our victory in Iraq and the Sunni rejection of al Qaeda as tools to further delegitimize that organization in the eyes of the Muslim world. What occurred in Iraq is the equivalent of a nuclear bomb in the war of ideas. Yet Obama, continuing his tack of politicizing our national security, does not merely ignore it, he pretends that al Qaeda was not involved in Iraq - all the while repetitively claiming that Iraq was a "wrong" war. Even if he believes the latter, nothing but sheer partisanship and ideological blinders prevent him from making use of the former. He should be pounding home the fact that al Qaeda's vision was thoroughly rejected by Iraqi Sunnis who, in fact, joined with America to defeat the scourge of al Qaeda. Obama's refusal to do so is simply another costly example of this dangerously naïve man's utter partisan bent.

But it seems Obama ultimately suffers even a more fundamental disability that will prevent him from ever successfully engaging in the war of ideas. It appears that Obama is so steeped in marxist ideology that he is incapable of grasping the nature of the Salafi/al Qaeda threat. They are not fighting for a reallocation of assets. They are not blowing themselves up because they don't have a guaranteed pension. They are not slicing off heads because they lack a collective bargaining agreement. They are fighting to see the world-wide triumph of their Salafist religion.

In the aftermath of 9-11, Obama wrote that the bombings reflected “the underlying struggle—between worlds of plenty and worlds of want.” Elsewhere on the same topic, Obama identified the primary cause of Islamic violence as "a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair." We know that is not true – the typical terrorist is just as likely if not moreso to be educated and middle class. Indeed, the undiebomber – like bin Laden himself - was actually the scion of a very wealthy family. Yet Obama still clings to his marxian beliefs, implying in a recent speech that al Qaeda was at home in Yemen because of the “crushing poverty.” His prescription for terrorism, given in his most recent speech of 7 January:

We've sought new beginnings with Muslim communities around the world, one in which we engage on the basis of mutual interest and mutual respect, and work together to fulfill the aspirations that all people share -- to get an education, to work with dignity, to live in peace and security. That's what America believes in. That's the vision that is far more powerful than the hatred of these violent extremists.

If he thinks that an educaton and a good job will solve the problem of Salafi terrorism, than he is wholly out of touch with reality. Both bin Laden and the undiebomber had a good education and plenty of money. The British doctors who attacked Glasgow airport were certainly educated and had good jobs. All of the 9-11 bombers were well educated. Tawfiq Hamid, who tells the story of how Salafi Islam turned him to terrorism , was a doctor, just like his mentor, Ayman al Zawahiri. If you have not read Tawfiq Hamid's story, you should. You will find it here.

The bottom line is that people who are deeply motivated by their religion are not going to give up their beliefs for any amount of money. So when it comes to the war of ideas, not only has Obama brought his partisan politics once again front and center, he is sufficiently steeped in the marxist orthodoxy that redistribution of wealth is the panacea for all ills that he has no chance whatsoever of recognizing reality and addressing it effectively.


Obama has politicized our national security. He has imposed over America's legal options to deal with terrorism his own personal morality. For partisan gain, he has warred on the CIA, almost assuredly making it a risk averse agency for decades to come. He has significantly degraded our ability to gain timely and actionable intelligence from the most important source in the war on terror - captured enemy combatants. His decision to transfer KSM to a civilian trial is a politically motivated act, and his decision to make of our national security an issue of criminal law has already cost lives in Texas - and almost cost a lot more in Detroit.

Obama is not even engaging in the war of ideas. He pretended the war on terror did not exist for virtually his entire first year in office. He has yet to direct attention to the sects from which Muslim terrorism arises. For partisan reasons, Obama is ignoring hard won and deeply important tools to delegitimze al Qaeda - our victory over al Qaeda in Iraq and, even more importantly, Iraqi Sunnis' rejection of al Qaeda. And lastly, Obama is utterly clueless as to how to engage in the war of ideas. He still 'bitterly clings' to the same meme he has been parroting since 9-11, that terrorism is caused by poverty and can be solved by a simple marxian redistribution of assets.

Obama is showing his utter lack of experience, his incredible hubris, his ideological obstinance and his poor judgment. He places partisan advantage over our national security. It seems inevitable that many more Americans will be killed by terrorists on Obama's watch. One wonders how many it will take before Obama has reality shoved down his throat and begins to take seriously his job as Commander in Chief.

Welcome Larwyn's Linx readers
Welcome Crusader Rabbit readers

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cdor said...

Not merely a post, but an exposition. Nice job, GW. It seems that we have entered an age of extremes. Moderates like "Leslie" Graham were important and effective voices at one time. Now, however, our elite class has moved so far to the left that only hard core, tough minded, self confidant conservatism can right the ship and move the pendulum back to a balanced position. Too many are afraid to name the enemy and call out Islam. It's always those isolated extremists. Even in those polls that are touted in this article, 20 to 35 percent of a billion Muslims adds up to 300 million hard core "isolated" extremists. One has to go way out of one's way to ignore 300 million hard core Muslim supremists, yet that is most certainly what Western civilization today is attempting to do. If we don't find our backbone soon, we will be facing even greater and bloodier problems later. I said before on this blog, when discussing Obama's release of our interrogation tactics to the public, that his actions will only lead to his successor needing to use even more strident and painful techniques in the future. Weakness leads only to destruction. This is the law of nature, the law of God.

cdor said...

As a small addition, the feminization of the western culture has a significant influence on our limpid response to Islamists saying very boldly that they wish to destroy us. They are in our face every chance they get and we do everything we can to ignore them. It only makes them bolder. The irony of course is obvious should the feminization of the West allow eventual sublimation to sharia.

OBloodyHell said...

> One wonders how many people must be killed by radicalized Muslims, how many need to be slowly beheaded by them on tape before “fear” becomes acceptable.

However many it takes to get the #$%#$^$%^#^ SOBs out of office.

Because you are NEVER going to change their minds. Dr. Sanity has a recent post, showing Helen Thomas whining about how the admin "never says why they want to do us harm", as though that meant f***-all in the real scheme of things.

That can be useful information, if there is a rational reason behind it, in terms of how you approach the issue, but, if there is no rational reason, and there really isn't in this case, then it's totally irrelevant.

GW said...

I have to agree with Helen Thomas. That is a question the Obama administration has to answer. That is part of step one in the war of ideas. The most powerful tool a democracy can muster is public opinion - and accompanying scrutiny. Salafi Islam needs precisely that.

Hmmm, this realy is a bit amazing. Jane Hamsher and Legal Insurrection agreeing. Now Helen Thomas and I. It seems Obama has bent things so far out of shape that the polar ends are meeting.

Nemesis said...

An excellent essay GW would you mind if I alerted to it?

GW said...

Thanks for the kind words and alert away.

WAKE UP said...

Isn't it interesting that since the "nice", "inspiring" Mr Obama became President, these Muslim bastards have behaved worse and worse, and increased their number of attacks exponentially. Effectively, Obama appears to be giving aid and comfort to the enemy (a treasonable offence, if true), and the biggest question is - why ?

Anonymous said...

Reading Arab sources, I think it is the takfiris who have made AQ less popular, not that they were that popular anyway.

Most of this seems like a long winded way of saying that you would like to re-engage in the true Long War. Invading every Muslim country and forcibly converting it into a functional pro-Western style democracy. You should just come out and say so and make your case.


GW said...

Steve: Not at all. Absent a military threat to the U.S. or, in some very limited cases, to avert a major humanitarian crisis, I don't advocate attacking any country. My whole point above is that if we don't engage in the war of ideas, then what we are going to find are a lot of threats rising in the future. To the extent its long winded, it was to fully and clearly make my case. Evidently it was not as clear as I thought it was.

GW said...

Steve: I neglected to mention, I understand what you mean about the Takfir issue and how that is driving down the popularity. But a couple of things on that -

1. The doctrine of takfir is central to Wahhabi/Salafi Islam. Ibn Tamiyah wrote extensively on the doctrine, and when Wahhab established his brand of Islam based on the writings of Tamiyah, he incorporated the takfir doctrine. I blogged on this extensively before. You can follow the links in the above post wherein I use the word "takfir."

2. Use of the takfir doctrine certainly played a central role in the Iraqi Sunni decision to oppose al Qaeda. It is bound up in it, as is the fact that the "winning horse" in that match-up where the U.S. and the Iraqi Sunnis. As bin Laden himself said, people back a winning horse. With that in mind, concentrating on delegiitmizing al Qaeda by criticism of the takfir doctrine is, I think, far too narrow.