Pay Attention! While Primaries Distract, Obama Shreds Constitutional Governance

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But understand: Obama is reduced to this bullying because the JCPOA is not a treaty and there is no statute that enforces its terms. He is attempting to rule by fiat backed by raw power, not law.

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The more significant point, though, is the supplanting of our constitutional order of popular American sovereignty, federalism, and separation of powers. Obama’s Iran deal is the imposition of unilateral executive rule, against the popular will, supported by vaporous international arrangements rubber-stamped by the UN Security Council and reliant not on law but on executive intimidation of the states.

PJ MEDIA, BY ANDREW C. MCCARTHY, APRIL 19, 2016:

While all eyes are on both parties’ primaries, constitutional governance — liberty, popular sovereignty, and state power, those vital things the Constitution is supposed to shield from encroachment by the central government — continues to be shredded.

Two cases in point: President Obama’s pressure on the states to drop sanctions against Iran, and his continuing scheme to dictate immigration law unilaterally.

The invaluable Omri Ceren (citing a Bloomberg View report) alerts us that the State Department has sent monitory letters to the governors of all fifty states “suggesting” that they review any sanctions imposed against Iran. Over half the states have such sanctions, targeting not only Iran’s nuclear work but the regime’s other weapons work (e.g., ballistic missiles), terror promotion, human rights abuses, detention of Americans, etc.

Explains Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies:

[These sanctions] are an essential part of the non-nuclear sanctions architecture designed to both deter Iranian illicit behavior and to safeguard pension funds from the risk associated with entering Iran’s economy.

Alas, any counter-Iranian measure with real teeth is certain to fly in the face of President Obama’s Iran deal — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. As I’ve recently recounted, the text of the JCPOA expressly indulges Iran’s position that it will “cease performing [its] commitments” under the deal if it deems the sanctions to have been “reinstated in whole of part.” That threat should only relate to sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program, but — as the Obama administration well knew — many of the sanctions against significant Iranian entities (e.g., the National Iranian Oil Company and Bank Melli) are based on activities in addition to support for the nuclear program.

Moreover, Iran has publicly announced that it interprets the JCPOA as a sweeping eradication of sanctions related both to various non-nuclear activities (e.g., other weapons and ballistic missiles) and to sectors of its economy sanctioned due to activities beyond support for the nuclear program.

Consequently, because of Obama’s obvious desperation for a deal, coupled with the incompetent manner (or, more cynically, the intentionally ambiguous manner) in which the deal is drafted, Obama has created the following situation:

(a) Iran — having already pocketed major concessions — continually threatens to walk away unless the United States agrees to additional sanctions relief.(b) If it is to accommodate the mullahs, as Obama is hard-wired to do, the administration must lean on the relevant actors to relax sanctions even if they are based on non-nuclear activities (e.g., terrorism or ballistic missiles).

Against that backdrop, the JCPOA also purports to oblige the federal government to use:

… “all available authorities [to eliminate any] law at the state or local level … [that] is preventing the implementation of sanctions lifting as specified in this JCPOA[.]”

Obama further explicitly commits in the JCPOA:

The United States will actively encourage officials at the state or local level to take into account the changes in the U.S. policy reflected in the lifting of sanctions under this JCPOA and to refrain from actions inconsistent with this change in policy. (Emphasis added)

Notice anything odd?

This is a foreign relations matter. So why does the Iran deal commit Washington merely to “encourage” and otherwise try to persuade state and local officials to honor the deal’s terms? Why not simply direct them to do so?

Because, for all its bluster about domestic and international law, the administration knows this deal has no legal standing.

Plainly, the president is trying to muscle his way through the inconvenience that the JCPOA is merely an executive agreement. It is not a legally enforceable treaty, nor is it supported by any legislation that would bind the states.

Obama is willing it to work through sheer extra-legal executive power.

Under the Constitution, the federal government has the power to bind the states on matters over which the Constitution gives Washington control, provided that the federal government does this binding in a constitutionally lawful manner.

It is freely conceded that the conduct of foreign relations and the regulation of international commerce are matters over which the Constitution grants the federal government supremacy. Yet, there are only two constitutionally lawful ways of binding the states: a ratified treaty, and/or a properly enacted congressional statute.

A mere executive agreement with the government of a second country (or multiple countries) that the president declines to submit to the Senate as a treaty, and that is not otherwise given legal teeth by Congress, is not enforceable against the states. Period.

This explains why the language of the JCPOA and the State Department’s letter to the states is vaguely extortionate rather than legally direct: Obama will “actively encourage” states and municipalities; the State Department “would urge [the state] to consider,” etc. The administration is pressuring the states, exploiting the brute fact that states know crossing the administration is fraught with risk. States, after all, depend on various federal funding streams and live in constant fear that the most politicized Justice Department in U.S. history will find some pretext or other to investigate them.

But understand: Obama is reduced to this bullying because the JCPOA is not a treaty and there is no statute that enforces its terms. He is attempting to rule by fiat backed by raw power, not law.

And, characteristically, his administration is trying to pull this off by contorting the facts.

The State Department letter “urges” the states to reconsider their sanctions because, it assures them, “the JCPOA … verifiably ensures that Iran’s nuclear program is and will remain exclusively peaceful.” This is false.

The Iran deal is not verifiable; it thus cannot and does not assure that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful. Even by the deal’s own terms, Iran gets an industrial-size nuclear program that will be able to weaponize nuclear power with the flip of a switch — or as Obama himself has put it, with “breakout times [that] would have shrunk almost down to zero” — in a little over a decade (if not way before).

Moreover, even if the Iran deal had been an enforceable ratified treaty rather than a non-binding executive agreement, it was (as noted above) only supposed to relate to Iran’s nuclear program. By contrast, state sanctions against Iran (like federal sanctions) are not narrowly targeted at nukes; they relate to the panoply of the mullahs’ rogue activities in the areas of weapons and terrorism.

The State Department’s letter to the states implies that Obama’s purported achievement of a deal that renders Iran’s nuclear program permanently peaceful “addresses the underlying concerns” that caused the states to enact sanctions. Also false: far from addressing those concerns, the JCPOA exacerbates themIt provides lavish funds for Iran’s terror promotion and eases weapons sanctions outside the nuclear sphere. Hence, Iran’s brash testing of ballistic missiles — festooned with the words “Israel must be wiped out” written in Hebrew — in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolution 2231, which went into effect the very day the JCPOA was formally implemented.

After over seven Obama years, such legerdemain is to be expected. The more significant point, though, is the supplanting of our constitutional order of popular American sovereignty, federalism, and separation of powers. Obama’s Iran deal is the imposition of unilateral executive rule, against the popular will, supported by vaporous international arrangements rubber-stamped by the UN Security Council and reliant not on law but on executive intimidation of the states.

What Obama is attempting with respect to the Iran deal is another iteration of the authoritarian, anti-constitutional approach he has followed in the context of immigration policy — the crux of United States v. Texas, the case argued before the Supreme Court Monday (and in which a decision is expected at the end of the Court’s term in late June).

Under a series of Supreme Court precedents (which, I have argued, improperlyusurped state authority over immigration enforcement), it has been held that immigration enforcement is primarily a federal responsibility. Therefore, the legal doctrine of preemption is applied: any state law that contravenes federal law is void — i.e., states may regulate only insofar as regulations are consistent with federal law.

I highlight the word “law” to hone in on how Obama has perverted the principles of preemption.

As I explained in my 2014 book Faithless Execution, the president takes two legally untenable positions on illegal immigration:

(a) That the doctrine of prosecutorial discretion empowers him to choose which laws he will enforce, and(b) That if he chooses not to enforce laws in an area, like immigration, where the courts say federal law preempts state law, then state enforcement of congressional law is preempted by this executive branch non-enforcement policy.

Obama’s first position is perverse. A president’s chief constitutional duty is to see that the laws are faithfully executed. “Prosecutorial discretion” is just a resource-allocation doctrine specific to criminal law enforcement. Recognizing that law-enforcement resources are finite, it gives the executive branch authority to decide which individual cases merit prosecution. It is not a sweeping license to, in effect, repeal congressional statutes by not enforcing them across-the-board.

If it were? That would nullify the president’s obligation to execute the laws faithfully — in effect making him the law-giver rather than the law-enforcer.

The president’s second position is also perverse: only federal law, adopted under the constitutionally prescribed legislative procedures, can preempt state law. When the president declines to enforce the law, he undermines rather than affirms the congressional laws that preempt the states.

Presidential policy preferences, moreover, are not legally binding on Congress, the states, or the people. Preemption is a doctrine of law, not policy. At the federal level, only Congress can make law. Consequently, the president lacks Congress’s limited constitutional authority to preempt the states.

Thus, Obama is claiming what is really dictatorial power masquerading as preemption law. Laid bare, he asserts the unilateral power to forbid states from enforcing immigration laws duly enacted by Congress — laws that are essential to the security and stability, and thus to the very sovereignty, of the states.

The high-stakes contests for the presidential nominations of both major political parties are, of course, extremely important. But they are less important than the damage daily being done to our governing system: the “fundamental transformation” of the Constitution’s limited presidency into something more like the raw-power autocracy the framers feared.

Willful Blindness and Our Saudi ‘Friends’

Anwar al-Awlaki in October 2008 (Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 3.0)

Anwar al-Awlaki in October 2008 (Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 3.0)

National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, April 16, 2016:

For many years, I was reluctant to write a memoir of my experience leading the investigation and prosecution of the jihadists against whom we are still at war over 20 years later. For one thing, while an exhilarating experience for a trial lawyer, it was also a very hard time for my family, for obvious reasons. Also, with all the tough judgment calls we had to make, we inevitably made some mistakes — “we” very much including me. A triumphant outcome has a pleasant way of bleaching away any memory of errors; to write honestly about the case would mean revisiting them. Who needed that?

And about that triumph: I had, and have, a gnawing sense that we failed. Yes, the conviction of the Blind Sheikh and his henchmen was a great law-enforcement success. Throughout the long trial and in the years that followed, though, I came to appreciate that national security is principally about keeping Americans safe, not winning court cases. Sure, winning in this instance meant justice was done and some terrorists were incarcerated. How safe, though, had we really kept Americans?

For all the effort and expense, the number of jihadists neutralized was negligible compared to the overall threat. The attacks kept coming, as one might expect when one side detonates bombs and the other responds with subpoenas. As the years passed, the tally of casualties far outstripped that of convicted terrorists. When 9/11 finally happened, killing nearly 3,000 of our fellow Americans, al-Qaeda credited none other than the Blind Sheikh with issuing the fatwa — the sharia edict — that authorized the attack. We had imprisoned him, but we had not stopped him.

That is mainly why I finally wrote the memoir in 2008. I called it Willful Blindness . . . and not just because my infamous defendant was both blind and willful. American counterterrorism, even seven years after 9/11 (and fully 15 years after the jihadists declared war by bombing the World Trade Center), had bored its head ever deeper in the sand. It consciously avoided the central truths driving the terrorist threat against the United States.

The most significant of these is that violent jihadism is the inexorable result of the vibrance in Islam of sharia supremacism — a scripturally-rooted summons to Muslims to strive for conquest over infidels until Allah’s law (sharia) is established everywhere on earth.

This ideology — also referred to as “Islamism,” “Islamic supremacism,” “radical Islam,” “political Islam,” and other descriptors that endeavor to distinguish it from Islam (and to imply that such a distinction should be drawn) — is not the only way of interpreting Islam. Indeed, it is rejected by millions of Muslims. The conquest for which it strives, moreover, is not necessarily to be achieved by violence. Sharia supremacism is, nevertheless, a mainstream interpretation of Islam. Inevitably, it leads some believers to carry out jihadist violence, and an even greater number of believers to support the jihadists’ objectives, if not their methods.

Since 1993, the bipartisan American ruling class, throughout administrations of both parties, has refused to acknowledge, much less grapple with, this central truth of the threat we face. It has insisted, against fact and reason, that Islam is a monolithic “religion of peace,” and therefore that there can be no causal connection between Islamic doctrine and terrorism committed by Muslims. It has fraudulently maintained that jihadist violence is not jihadist at all — after all, we are to understand jihad (notwithstanding its roots as a belligerent concept, as holy war to establish sharia) to be a noble internal struggle to become a better person, to vanquish corruption, and the like. Terrorist attacks must be airbrushed into “violent extremism,” shorn of any ideological component — as if the killing were wanton, not purposeful. The fact that the attacks are so ubiquitously committed by Muslims (who explicitly cite scriptural chapter and verse to justify themselves), is to be ignored — as if all religions and ideologies were equally prone to inspire mass-murder attacks if believed too fervently.

This deceit at the core of American counterterrorism efforts has led seamlessly to other frauds. Among the most grievous is this one: Saudi Arabia is a key counterterrorism ally of the United States.

This is why it is time — it is long, long past time — for the United States government to come clean with the American people, and with the families of Americans slaughtered on 9/11 by 19 jihadists, 15 of them Saudis. The government must disclose the 28 pages of the 2002 congressional report on the 9/11 attacks that it has shamefully withheld from the public for 14 years. Those pages outline Saudi complicity in the jihad.

It is nothing short of disgraceful that the Bush and Obama administrations, relying on the president’s constitutional authority over foreign intelligence and the conduct of foreign affairs, have concealed these materials. It is equally disgraceful that Congress has indulged this decision in the context of its own fact-finding exercise. This has been done under the pretense that the Saudi government is a stalwart counterterrorism ally of the United States — an absurd proposition that passes the laugh test only if one accepts the even more absurd premise that Islam has nothing to do with jihadist terrorism.

The Saudis are the world’s chief propagator of sharia supremacism, sharia being the law of the Sunni kingdom. In Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism, a literalist interpretation of Islam rooted in scripture dating back 1,400 years, is the dominant belief system. For decades, the House of Saud has played a double game with the West: 1) feigning moderation while promoting and internally enforcing this repressive fundamentalism, which brutally discriminates against women, non-Muslims, and Muslim minorities; 2) posturing as a staunch counterterrorism ally while exporting their ideology — and, when called on it, rationalizing either that their ideology does not catalyze jihadism, or that, even if it does, exporting it is necessary to ensure that jihadists do not seize control of the kingdom and its oil wealth — an outcome that, we are warned, would be far worse for the West.

Several Saudi connections to 9/11, as well as our government’s disturbing appearance of not wanting to know the depth of Saudi culpability, have been reported over the years. Let’s look at some of the main ones. Read more…

 

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Washington’s bipartisan insistence that the Saudi regime is a vital counterterrorism ally of the United States is a delusional byproduct of its willful blindness to sharia supremacism — the ideological driver of violent jihadism and the oil-rich kingdom’s most consequential export.

The point of the post-9/11 investigations was to hold every culpable actor and negligent government agency accountable. No American citizen or government official, not even the sitting president, was spared. It is time for Washington to stop running interference for the Saudis while the Saudis run interference for the jihadists. At long last, let’s see the 28 pages.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior policy fellow at the National Review Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.

Also see:

Islam—Facts or Dreams?

WinstonHillsdale Imprimis, by Andrew C. McCarthy, February 2016:

The following is adapted from a speech delivered on February 24, 2016, at Hillsdale College’s Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in Washington, D.C., as part of the AWC Family Foundation Lecture Series.

In 1993 I was a seasoned federal prosecutor, but I only knew as much about Islam as the average American with a reasonably good education—which is to say, not much. Consequently, when I was assigned to lead the prosecution of a terrorist cell that had bombed the World Trade Center and was plotting an even more devastating strike—simultaneous attacks on the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, the United Nations complex on the East River, and the FBI’s lower Manhattan headquarters—I had no trouble believing what our government was saying: that we should read nothing into the fact that all the men in this terrorist cell were Muslims; that their actions were not representative of any religion or belief system; and that to the extent they were explaining their atrocities by citing Islamic scripture, they were twisting and perverting one of the world’s great religions, a religion that encourages peace.

Unlike commentators and government press secretaries, I had to examine these claims. Prosecutors don’t get to base their cases on assertions. They have to prove things to commonsense Americans who must be satisfied about not only what happened but why it happened before they will convict people of serious crimes. And in examining the claims, I found them false.

One of the first things I learned concerned the leader of the terror cell, Omar Abdel Rahman, infamously known as the Blind Sheikh. Our government was portraying him as a wanton killer who was lying about Islam by preaching that it summoned Muslims to jihad or holy war. Far from a lunatic, however, he turned out to be a globally renowned scholar—a doctor of Islamic jurisprudence who graduated from al-Azhar University in Cairo, the seat of Sunni Islamic learning for over a millennium. His area of academic expertise was sharia—Islamic law.

I immediately began to wonder why American officials from President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno on down, officials who had no background in Muslim doctrine and culture, believed they knew more about Islam than the Blind Sheikh. Then something else dawned on me: the Blind Sheikh was not only blind; he was beset by several other medical handicaps. That seemed relevant. After all, terrorism is hard work. Here was a man incapable of doing anything that would be useful to a terrorist organization—he couldn’t build a bomb, hijack a plane, or carry out an assassination. Yet he was the unquestioned leader of the terror cell. Was this because there was more to his interpretation of Islamic doctrine than our government was conceding?

Defendants do not have to testify at criminal trials, but they have a right to testify if they choose to—so I had to prepare for the possibility. Raised an Irish Catholic in the Bronx, I was not foolish enough to believe I could win an argument over Muslim theology with a doctor of Islamic jurisprudence. But I did think that if what we were saying as a government was true—that he was perverting Islam—then there must be two or three places where I could nail him by saying, “You told your followers X, but the doctrine clearly says Y.” So my colleagues and I pored over the Blind Sheikh’s many writings. And what we found was alarming: whenever he quoted the Koran or other sources of Islamic scripture, he quoted them accurately.

Now, you might be able to argue that he took scripture out of context or gave an incomplete account of it. In my subsequent years of studying Islam, I’ve learned that this is not a particularly persuasive argument. But even if one concedes for the purposes of discussion that it’s a colorable claim, the inconvenient fact remains: Abdel Rahman was not lying about Islam.

When he said the scriptures command that Muslims strike terror into the hearts of Islam’s enemies, the scriptures backed him up.

When he said Allah enjoined all Muslims to wage jihad until Islamic law was established throughout the world, the scriptures backed him up.

When he said Islam directed Muslims not to take Jews and Christians as their friends, the scriptures backed him up.

You could counter that there are other ways of construing the scriptures. You could contend that these exhortations to violence and hatred should be “contextualized”—i.e., that they were only meant for their time and place in the seventh century.  Again, I would caution that there are compelling arguments against this manner of interpreting Islamic scripture. The point, however, is that what you’d be arguing is an interpretation.

The fact that there are multiple ways of construing Islam hardly makes the Blind Sheikh’s literal construction wrong. The blunt fact of the matter is that, in this contest of competing interpretations, it is the jihadists who seem to be making sense because they have the words of scripture on their side—it is the others who seem to be dancing on the head of a pin. For our present purposes, however, the fact is that the Blind Sheikh’s summons to jihad was rooted in a coherent interpretation of Islamic doctrine. He was not perverting Islam—he was, if anything, shining a light on the need to reform it.

Another point, obvious but inconvenient, is that Islam is not a religion of peace. There are ways of interpreting Islam that could make it something other than a call to war. But even these benign constructions do not make it a call to peace. Verses such as “Fight those who believe not in Allah,” and “Fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem of war,” are not peaceful injunctions, no matter how one contextualizes.

Another disturbing aspect of the trial against the Blind Sheikh and his fellow jihadists was the character witnesses who testified for the defense. Most of these people were moderate, peaceful Muslim Americans who would no more commit terrorist acts than the rest of us. But when questions about Islamic doctrine would come up—“What does jihad mean?” “What is sharia?” “How might sharia apply to a certain situation?”—these moderate, peaceful Muslims explained that they were not competent to say. In other words, for the answers, you’d have to turn to Islamic scholars like the Blind Sheikh.

Now, understand: there was no doubt what the Blind Sheikh was on trial for. And there was no doubt that he was a terrorist—after all, he bragged about it. But that did not disqualify him, in the minds of these moderate, peaceful Muslims, from rendering authoritative opinions on the meaning of the core tenets of their religion. No one was saying that they would follow the Blind Sheikh into terrorism—but no one was discrediting his status either.

Although this came as a revelation to me, it should not have. After all, it is not as if Western civilization had no experience dealing with Islamic supremacism—what today we call “Islamist” ideology, the belief that sharia must govern society. Winston Churchill, for one, had encountered it as a young man serving in the British army, both in the border region between modern-day Afghanistan and Pakistan and in the Sudan—places that are still cauldrons of Islamist terror. Ever the perceptive observer, Churchill wrote:

How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. . . . Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property—either as a child, a wife, or a concubine—must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.

Habitually, I distinguish between Islam and Muslims. It is objectively important to do so, but I also have a personal reason: when I began working on national security cases, the Muslims I first encountered were not terrorists. To the contrary, they were pro-American patriots who helped us infiltrate terror cells, disrupt mass-murder plots, and gather the evidence needed to convict jihadists. We have an obligation to our national security to understand our enemies; but we also have an obligation to our principles not to convict by association—not to confound our Islamist enemies with our Muslim allies and fellow citizens. Churchill appreciated this distinction. “Individual Moslems,” he stressed, “may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen.” The problem was not the people, he concluded. It was the doctrine.

What about Islamic law? On this topic, it is useful to turn to Robert Jackson, a giant figure in American law and politics—FDR’s attorney general, justice of the Supreme Court, and chief prosecutor of the war crimes trials at Nuremberg. In 1955, Justice Jackson penned the foreword to a book called Law in the Middle East. Unlike today’s government officials, Justice Jackson thought sharia was a subject worthy of close study.  And here is what he concluded:

In any broad sense, Islamic law offers the American lawyer a study in dramatic contrasts. Even casual acquaintance and superficial knowledge—all that most of us at bench or bar will be able to acquire—reveal that its striking features relative to our law are not likenesses but inconsistencies, not similarities but contrarieties. In its source, its scope and its sanctions, the law of the Middle East is the antithesis of Western law.

Contrast this with the constitution that the U.S. government helped write for post-Taliban Afghanistan, which showed no awareness of the opposition of Islamic and Western law. That constitution contains soaring tropes about human rights, yet it makes Islam the state religion and sharia a principal source of law—and under it, Muslim converts to Christianity have been subjected to capital trials for apostasy.

Sharia rejects freedom of speech as much as freedom of religion. It rejects the idea of equal rights between men and women as much as between Muslim and non-Muslim. It brooks no separation between spiritual life and civil society. It is a comprehensive framework for human life, dictating matters of government, economy, and combat, along with personal behavior such as contact between the sexes and personal hygiene. Sharia aims to rule both believers and non-believers, and it affirmatively sanctions jihad in order to do so.

Even if this is not the only construction of Islam, it is absurd to claim—as President Obama did during his recent visit to a mosque in Baltimore—that it is not a mainstream interpretation. In fact, it is the mainstream interpretation in many parts of the world. Last year, Americans were horrified by the beheadings of three Western journalists by ISIS. American and European politicians could not get to microphones fast enough to insist that these decapitations had nothing to do with Islam. Yet within the same time frame, the government of Saudi Arabia beheaded eight people for various violations of sharia—the law that governs Saudi Arabia.

Three weeks before Christmas, a jihadist couple—an American citizen, the son of Pakistani immigrants, and his Pakistani wife who had been welcomed into our country on a fiancée visa—carried out a jihadist attack in San Bernardino, California, killing 14 people. Our government, as with the case in Fort Hood—where a jihadist who had infiltrated the Army killed 13 innocents, mostly fellow soldiers—resisted calling the atrocity a “terrorist attack.” Why? Our investigators are good at what they do, and our top officials may be ideological, but they are not stupid. Why is it that they can’t say two plus two equals four when Islam is involved?

The reason is simple: stubbornly unwilling to deal with the reality of Islam, our leaders have constructed an Islam of their very own. This triumph of willful blindness and political correctness over common sense was best illustrated by former British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith when she described terrorism as “anti-Islamic activity.” In other words, the savagery is not merely unrelated to Islam; it becomes, by dint of its being inconsistent with a “religion of peace,”contrary to Islam. This explains our government’s handwringing over “radicalization”: we are supposed to wonder why young Muslims spontaneously become violent radicals—as if there is no belief system involved.

This is political correctness on steroids, and it has dangerous policy implications. Consider the inability of government officials to call a mass-murder attack by Muslims a terrorist attack unless and until the police uncover evidence proving that the mass murderers have some tie to a designated terrorist group, such as ISIS or al Qaeda. It is rare for such evidence to be uncovered early in an investigation—and as a matter of fact, such evidence often does not exist. Terrorist recruits already share the same ideology as these groups: the goal of imposing sharia. All they need in order to execute terrorist attacks is paramilitary training, which is readily available in more places than just Syria.

The dangerous flipside to our government’s insistence on making up its own version of Islam is that anyone who is publicly associated with Islam must be deemed peaceful. This is how we fall into the trap of allowing the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s most influential Islamic supremacist organization, to infiltrate policy-making organs of the U.S. government, not to mention our schools, our prisons, and other institutions. The federal government, particularly under the Obama administration, acknowledges the Brotherhood as an Islamic organization—notwithstanding the ham-handed attempt by the intelligence community a few years back to rebrand it as “largely secular”—thereby giving it a clean bill of health. This despite the fact that Hamas is the Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch, that the Brotherhood has a long history of terrorist violence, and that major Brotherhood figures have gone on to play leading roles in terrorist organizations such as al Qaeda.

To quote Churchill again:  “Facts are better than dreams.” In the real world, we must deal with the facts of Islamic supremacism, because its jihadist legions have every intention of dealing with us. But we can only defeat them if we resolve to see them for what they are.

Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute. A graduate of Columbia College, he received his J.D. at New York Law School. For 18 years, he was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, and from 1993-95 he led the terrorism prosecution against Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and 11 others in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and a plot to bomb New York City landmarks. Following the 9/11 attacks, he supervised the Justice Department’s command post near Ground Zero. He has also served as a Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense and an adjunct professor at Fordham University’s School of Law and New York Law School. He writes widely for newspapers and journals including National Review, PJ Media, and The New Criterion, and is the author of several books, including Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad and Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotages America.

Huma Abedin and the Tangled Clinton Web

t-huma-abedin-anthony-weiner.sized-940x350xcPJ Media, by Andrew McCarthy, Feb. 12 2016:

Almost a month ago, Fox News reported that the FBI’s investigation of possible national security violations stemming from Hillary Clinton’s private email system had expanded to include a corruption angle, centered on the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation and the possibility that Foundation donors received favorable government treatment during Mrs. Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.

The Fox report prompted indignant denials from Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign that there had been any broadening of the probe. Yet, the government is not required to disclose the course of its investigation publicly, much less to its subjects. And now, there are additional indications that the government is indeed scrutinizing the cozy relations the State Department enjoyed during Secretary Hillary Clinton’s tenure with both the Clinton Foundation and a Clinton-connected consulting firm called Teneo.

Last autumn, according to the Washington Post, the State Department’s inspector general (IG) issued subpoenas to the Clinton Foundation. The IG’s office has authority to investigate wrongdoing at the Department, including criminal wrongdoing. Its conclusions may be referred to the Justice Department for possible prosecution, and may also result in other forms of disciplinary action against government officials found to have committed misconduct. The subpoenas served on the Clinton Foundation reportedly focused on two areas of inquiry: (a) Clinton Foundation projects that may have required federal government approval during Mrs. Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state; and (b) Clinton Foundation records pertaining to the employment of Huma Abedin.

Ms. Abedin, a longtime Clinton confidante, served as Secretary Clinton’s deputy chief-of-staff at the State Department and is now vice chairwoman of Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 campaign for the presidency.

For about a half-year toward the end of Abedin’s tenure at the State Department, which coincided with with Secretary Clinton’s own departure from the State Department in February 2013, Abedin was given a highly unusual and ethically dubious arrangement: She was permitted to work simultaneously for the State Department, Teneo, the Clinton Foundation, and even in a personal capacity for Mrs. Clinton – in order to manage the secretary’s transition back to the private sector (notwithstanding that Mrs. Clinton had a job waiting for her at the lavishly funded Clinton Foundation, from which she would oversee her 2016 campaign-in-waiting).

Ordered Liberty readers will recall that Ms. Abedin has been the subject of controversy. Several years ago, five House conservatives asked State’s IG to investigate how Abedin managed to receive a security clearance despite extensive family ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and to an al Qaeda financier whose “charity” was designated a terrorist organization by the government. At the time, senior Republicans attacked the House conservatives, despite the fact that the latter were not alleging any wrongdoing on Abedin’s part – they were merel and sensibly questioning the propriety of the government’s granting a security clearance to someone on Abedin’s background. In light of new revelations in the Clinton email scandal, which place Abedin in the center of the mishandling of classified information through Mrs. Clinton’s homebrew server system, the concerns of the House conservatives seem prescient.

Read more

The Problem with Islam Is Aggressive Scripture, Not Aggressive ‘Traditionalism’

quran

National Review, By Andrew C. McCarthy — January 16, 2016:

On the Corner this week, the eminent Jim Talent touted (with some reservations) an essay about “moderate Islam” by Cheryl Bernard. A Rand Institute researcher, she is also a novelist, a defender of war-ravaged cultures, and the wife of Zalmay Khalilzad, the former U.S. ambassador to post-Taliban (or is it pre-Taliban?) Afghanistan. With due respect to Dr. Bernard, who does much heroic work, I believe the essay highlights what is wrong with Western academic analysis of Islam.

The problem comes into focus in the very title of Senator Talent’s post, “Aggressive Traditionalism.” That is the attribute of Islamic societies that Dr. Bernard blames for the frustration of her high hopes for “moderate Islam.” In truth, however, the challenge Islam poses for moderation is not its tradition; it is Islamic doctrine — the scriptural support for traditional sharia and Islamic supremacist ideology.

I give Bernard credit. She is the unusual strategist who is willing to admit failure — in this instance, of the strategy of promoting “moderate Islam” as the antidote to “radical Islam.” But even this concession goes off the rails: She maintains that the strategy was somehow “basically sensible” despite being “off track in two critical ways.” The real problem, though, is not the two errors she identifies but the fatal flaw she fails to address: The happenstance that there are many moderate Muslims in the world does not imply the existence of a coherent “moderate Islam.” Try as she might, Bernard cannot surmount this doctrinal hurdle by blithely ignoring the centrality of doctrine to a belief system — without it, there is nothing to believe.

But let’s start with the two critical problems she does cite. The first is the matter of defining what a “moderate” is. Bernard concedes that she and other thinkers adopted a definition that was “too simplistic” — meaning, too broad. It made “violence and terrorism” the litmus test for “moderation.” This enabled what she labels “aggressive traditionalists” to masquerade as moderates.

Who are the “aggressive traditionalists”? Muslims who, though nonviolent themselves, “harbor attitudes of hostility and alienation” against non-Muslims. The failure to account for the challenge that “aggressive traditionalism” poses for moderation led to the second flaw Bernard admits: the undermining of “integration” — a reference to Muslim assimilation (or the lack thereof) in the West.

This is fine as far as it goes. In fact, Bernard is quite correct about the main challenge posed by hostile, alienated, integration-resistant Muslims: Even if they are personally nonviolent, the communities they create become “the breeding ground for extremism and the safe harbor for extremists.”

But “extremism” about what? This is the salient question, and it is one Bernard studiously ducks. The error is implicit from the very start of her essay (my italics):

Over the past decade, the prevailing thinking has been that radical Islam is most effectively countered by moderate Islam. The goal was to find religious leaders and scholars and community ‘influencers’ — to use the lingo of the counter-radicalization specialists — who could explain to their followers and to any misguided young people that Islam is a religion of peace, that the term jihad refers mainly to the individual’s personal struggle against temptation and for moral betterment, and that tolerance and interfaith cooperation should prevail.

Plainly, the “prevailing thinking” casually assumes “facts” not only unproven but highly dubious. Bernard takes it as a given not only that there is an easily identifiable “moderate Islam,” but also that this . . . what? . . . doctrine? . . . attitude? . . . is the most effective counter to “radical Islam.”

But what is moderate Islam? She doesn’t say. She maintains that there are countless moderate Muslims who, by her telling, embrace “Western values, modern life and integration.” In fact, she assumes there are so many such Muslims that they constitute the “mainstream” of Islam. Yet, that proposition is not necessarily true even in the West, where Muslims are a minority who might be expected to assimilate into the dominant, non-Muslim culture; and it most certainly is not true in the Muslim-majority countries of the Middle East.

Even worse is Bernard’s assertion — uncritical, and without a hint that there may be a counter-case — “that Islam is a religion of peace, [and] that the term jihad refers mainly to the individual’s personal struggle against temptation and for moral betterment.”

As is the wont of Islam’s Western apologists, Bernard is attempting to shield from examination what most needs examining. Her reliance on the potential of “moderate Islam” to quell “radical Islam” is entirely premised on the conceit that Islam is, in fact, moderate and peaceful. Her assumption that the vast majority of Muslims can be won over (indeed, have already been won over, she seems to say) to Western values is premised on the conceit that those values are universal and, hence, locatable in the core of Islam — such that “tolerance and interfaith cooperation should prevail” because Islam is all for them.

Islam, however, is not a religion of peace. It is a religion of conquest that was spread by the sword. Moreover, it is not only untrue that jihad refers “mainly” to the individual’s internal struggle to live morally; it is also untrue that the Islamic ideal of the moral life is indistinguishable from the Western conception.

To be clear, this is not to say that Islam could not conceivably become peaceful. Nor is it to say that jihad could not be reinterpreted such that a decisive majority of Muslims would accept that its actual primary meaning — namely, holy war to establish Islam’s dominance — has been superseded by the quest for personal betterment. To pull that off, though, will require a huge fight. It cannot be done by inhabiting an alternative universe where it has already been done.

That fight would be over doctrine, the stark omission in Bernard’s analysis. I do not think the omission is an oversight. Note her labeling of faux moderates as “aggressive traditionalists.” Citing “tradition” implies that the backwardness and anti-Western hostility she detects, to her great dismay, is a function of cultural inhibitions. But what she never tells you, and hopes you’ll never ask, is where Islamic culture and traditions come from.

Alas, they are direct consequences of Islamic scripture and sharia, the law derived from scripture. She can’t go there. She wants Islam to be moderate, but its scriptures won’t cooperate. She must rely on tradition and culture because traditions and cultures can and do evolve. Scripture, by contrast, does not — not in Islam as taught by over a millennium’s worth of scholars and accepted by untold millions of Muslims. Mainstream Islam holds that scripture is immutable. The Koran, the center of Islamic life, is deemed the “uncreated word of Allah,” eternal. (See, e.g., Sura 6:115: “The Word of thy Lord doth find its fulfillment in truth and justice: None can change His Words: For He is the one Who heareth and knoweth all.”)

Bernard must blame aggressive traditionalism because if the problem is aggressive doctrine rooted in aggressive scripture, then it’s not changing any time soon — or maybe ever. Moreover, she is not in a position to challenge doctrine and scripture without deeply offending the believers to whom she is appealing. They are taught that any departure from centuries-old scholarly consensus is blasphemy.

The story Dr. Bernard tells of Islamic intransigence in her own Northern Virginia neighborhood is instructive. A Muslim-American friend of hers is a social worker who finds jobs for Muslim immigrants. He lands openings for a group of Somali women in a hospital laundry service; but the women first tell him they must check with their imam, then they turn down the jobs because they will not be allowed to wear their hijabs. The social worker and Bernard are exasperated: Why don’t the women and their adviser grasp that because hijabs could get caught in the machinery and cause injury, there is a “pragmatic reason” for departing from the traditional Islamic norm?

Notice: Bernard never considers, or at least never acknowledges, that there is doctrinal support for every decision the Somalis make: The scriptures instruct Muslims to consult authorities knowledgeable in sharia before embarking on a questionable course of conduct; they instruct Muslim women to wear the veil (particularly in any setting where they will be exposed to men who are not their husbands or close relatives). And while pragmatism suggests to the rational Dr. Bernard and her moderate, Westernized social-worker friend an obvious exception to Islam’s usual clothing rule, mainstream Islam in the Middle East and Somalia admonishes that Western reliance on reason and pragmatism is a form of corruption, a pretext for ignoring religious duty.

Doctrine is the answer to virtually every immoderate instance of aggressive “traditionalism” Bernard complains about: the separation of men from women in the mosque, and the decidedly poorer accommodations (“often unacceptable and even insulting,” as Bernard describes them) to which women are consigned; the separation of the sexes in work and social settings; the instructions not to trust or befriend “unbelievers”; the admonitions to resist adopting Western habits and developing loyalty to Western institutions. There is scriptural support for every one of these injunctions.

From the fact that she has moderate, “modernized” Muslim friends, who do not comport themselves in such “traditional” fashion, Bernard extravagantly deduces that tradition is the problem. She never comes close to grappling with doctrine — i.e., the thing that most devout Muslims believe is what makes them Muslims. The closest she comes is the fleeting observation that her moderate social-worker friend “is a scholar [presumably of Islam] and a professor who emigrated from a conservative Muslim country.” The obvious suggestion is that if he is not troubled by the flouting of traditional Islamic mores, surely there must not be any credible scriptural objection. But if it is relevant that her friend is a scholar, is it not also relevant that there are thousands of other scholars — scholars who actually do Islamic jurisprudence rather than social work for a living — who would opine that sharia requires these traditional behaviors and that it is the social worker who is out of touch?

When Dr. Bernard’s husband, Ambassador Khalilzad, served in Kabul, he midwifed the new Afghan constitution that purported to safeguard Western notions of liberty while simultaneously installing Islam as the state religion and sharia as fundamental law. In short order, Afghanistan put former Muslims who had publicly renounced Islam on capital trial for apostasy. Dr. Khalilzad, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and other Western officials and intellectuals pronounced themselves duly shocked and appalled — notwithstanding that anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of Islamic scripture knows that it calls for public apostates to be killed.

To great American embarrassment, the apostates had to be whisked out of the country lest the incompatibility of civil rights and sharia become even more painfully apparent. It is worth acknowledging, however, that what chased them out of Afghanistan was not aggressive traditionalism. It was Islamic doctrine, which simply is not moderate. Looked at doctrinally, the challenge for “moderate Islam” is . . . Islam.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is as senior policy fellow at the National Review Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.

 

Just Asking about Islam and Terrorism

jihadiNational Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, Dec. 26, 2015:

Let me ask you a question.

Let’s say you are an authentically moderate Muslim. Perhaps you were born into Islam but have become secularist. Or perhaps you consider yourself a devout Muslim but interpret Islam in a way that rejects violent jihad, rejects the concept that religious and civic life are indivisible, and rejects the principle that sharia’s totalitarian societal framework and legal code must be imposed on the state. Let’s just take that as a given: You are no more inclined toward terrorism than any truly peaceful, moderate, pro-democratic non-Muslim.

So let me pop the question: Is there any insulting thing I could say, no matter how provocative, or any demeaning video I could show you, no matter how lurid, that could convince you to join ISIS?

Mind you, I am not asking whether, upon my insulting and provoking you, you would ever want to have anything to do with me again. I am asking whether there is anything that could be said or done by me, or, say, Donald Trump, or Nakoula Basseley Nakoula — the video producer (Innocence of Muslims) whom Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama tried to blame for the Benghazi massacre — that could persuade you to throw up your hands and join the jihad? Is there anything so profoundly offensive to Islam that we could conjure up that would make a truly moderate, peaceful Muslim sign up for mass murder? Torching and beheading? Killing children? Participating in systematic rape as a weapon of war?

I didn’t think so.

RELATED: Yes, Islamic Is Islamic, But That’s Just the Beginning of the Debate

Yet, understand, that is what Washington would have you believe. Whether it is Barack Obama sputtering on about how Guantanamo Bay drives jihadist recruitment, or Hillary Clinton obsessing over videos (the real one by Nakoula that she pretended caused terrorism in Libya, and the pretend ones about Donald Trump that she claims have Muslims lined up from Raqqa to Ramadi to join ISIS), you are to believe violent jihad is not something that Muslims do but that Americans incite.

And it’s not just Democrats who’d have you buy this bunkum. Think of the Arab Spring fairy tale — about Libya, Egypt, and, most recently, Syria — that Republicans have been telling for years, critiqued by yours truly in Spring Fever. It is still GOP gospel, glibly peddled by Marco Rubio just a couple of weeks ago at the 2016 presidential candidates’ debate. (Disclosure: I support Ted Cruz.)

RELATED: Dispelling the ‘Few Extremists’ Myth — the Muslim World Is Overcome with Hate

The fairy tale goes something like this. There is a terrible dictator who so tormented his people that they rose up against him. These were noble people, overwhelmingly moderate, secular Muslims — adherents of a “religion of peace” (or, as Bush secretary of state Condi Rice put it, “a religion of peace and love”), who craved democracy. (Caution: You can call them “rebels,” but words like “Muslim Brotherhood” and “sharia” are not to be uttered — we’re trying to build a narrative here!) Sure, the noble people may have tolerated the occasional jihadist in their midst, but that could happen to even the most well-intentioned peaceful moderate, right? (The pervasive presence of jihadists who used Syria and Libya as gateways to jihad against Americans in Iraq is also not to be mentioned.)

Now let’s let bygones be bygones. No need to tarry over small details — like how the noble people installed anti-democratic Islamists who imposed a sharia constitution on Egypt after ousting their pro-American dictator; or how Libya became a jihadist playpen where Americans are murdered after the U.S. government sided with the noble people to oust the U.S.-supported dictator who had been giving us counterterrorism intelligence about jihadists in places like Benghazi.

Let’s just skip ahead to Syria. There, the noble people needed America’s help, but Barack Obama turned a deaf ear. (No need to get into Obama’s collusion with the Islamic-supremacist governments of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE to arm and train the “rebels.”) This forfeited our golden opportunity to intervene actively and empower the bounty of moderate, secular, America-loving, democracy-craving Muslims (because that worked so well in Libya). But for Obama’s default, these moderate legions could simultaneously have toppled the dictator and purged the teeny-tiny number of jihadists who might have been skulking about. (Let’s not get into how there don’t seem to be enough of these moderates to man a soccer team, let alone a legion; or how weapons supplied to these “rebels” somehow keep ending up in the hands of the jihadists.) Obama’s default, coupled with the ruthlessness of the dictator, created a leadership and territory void into which jihadists suddenly poured (apparently out of nowhere). Somehow, these spontaneously generating jihadists managed to entice recruits, vastly increasing in number and power (even though — you’ll have to trust us on this — the moderate, secular Muslims really want nothing to do with them).

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how ISIS was born and al-Qaeda rose from the ashes.

You buying it? Me neither.

RELATED: Trump’s Muslim Immigration Ban Should Touch Off a Badly Needed Discussion

About 20 years ago, I prosecuted a dozen jihadists, led by the “Blind Sheikh,” Omar Abdel Rahman, for waging a terrorist war against the United States — including the World Trade Center bombing and a plot to attack the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, as well as other New York City landmarks. The defendants were caught on tape building bombs, scheming to strike at American military sites, and planning attacks timed to achieve maximum infidel carnage.

At trial, the jihadists tried to tell the jury they were just moderate, peace-loving Muslims who had been provoked by American foreign policy, a perception of anti-Muslim bias, and videos of Muslims being persecuted in Bosnia. The Blind Sheikh insisted his incitements to jihad were simply a case of faithfully applying sharia principles, which, according to his lawyers, the First Amendment gave him the right to do.

So I asked the jury a simple question:

Is there any obnoxious, insulting, infuriating thing I could say to you, or show to you, that would convince you to join up with mass-murdering terrorists? To become a terrorist yourself?

Of course, a dozen commonsense New Yorkers did not need to be asked such a question. They laughed the defense out of the courtroom.

Alas, in the 20 years since, the defense they laughed out of the courtroom has become the bipartisan government policy of the United States.

Go figure.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a policy fellow at the National Review Institute. His latest book is Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment.

Fox News is getting the message out on jihad!

a gThese interviews are packed with important information that Americans need to hear. Kudos to Fox News for interviewing the experts!

After O’Reilly gives his opinion on Donald Trump’s call to ban all Muslim Immigration, he interviews counterterrorism specialist Aaron Cohen and Center for Security Policy’s Jim Hanson. They discuss taking a temporary pause in issuing visas to people from terror supporting countries and a detailed plan to go after ISIS.

***

Megyn Kelly interviews Andrew McCarthy and Dr. Sebastian Gorka. They discuss the importance of vetting for Islamic supremacist ideology and sharia adherence. Dr. Gorka points out that the San Bernardino attack used  classic jihadi tradecraft. They also touched on the need Mosque surveillance and looking at the background of Imams.

***

And Dr. Gorka was on Fox and Friends this morning.

Terror Expert: Don’t Expect Calif. Attack to Be the Last on US Soil (foxnewsinsider.com)

Counterterrorism expert Dr. Sebastian Gorka said we should not expect the San Bernardino terror attack to be the last by jihadis on American soil.

He said that in the last 20 months, the U.S. has killed or arrested 82 ISIS suspects, and that a significant portion of them planned on staying in the country to kill Americans.

“They have decided the best way to serve the new caliph, the new emperor, would be to kill Americans here. We published that report before San Bernardino, with one conclusion: If you just look at the facts, a Paris-type attack is not a question of if, it is a question of when.

“Do not expect this to be the last attack in America by jihadis.”

Gorka also weighed in on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s plan to ban the entry of Muslims into the U.S. “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

Gorka said that the plan is bad for national security, because U.S. intelligence depends heavily on the Muslim community and allies in the region, and “this is going to make them just close down.”

He also said there’s logistically no good way to vet people on the basis of religion.

“Are we going to test them on Bible verses? How many Americans are going to pass a Christian test?” Watch the interview below.

Trump’s Muslim Immigration Ban Should Touch Off a Badly Needed Discussion

falls church mosqueNational Review, By Andrew C. McCarthy — December 8, 2015:

Donald Trump’s rhetorical excesses aside, he has a way of pushing us into important debates, particularly on immigration. He has done it again with his bracing proposal to force “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

I have no idea what Mr. Trump knows about either immigration law or Islam. But it should be obvious to any objective person that Muslim immigration to the West is a vexing challenge.

Some Muslims come to the United States to practice their religion peacefully, and assimilate into the Western tradition of tolerance of other people’s liberties, including religious liberty — a tradition alien to the theocratic societies in which they grew up. Others come here to champion sharia, Islam’s authoritarian societal framework and legal code, resisting assimilation into our pluralistic society.

Since we want to both honor religious liberty and preserve the Constitution that enshrines and protects it, we have a dilemma.

The assumption that is central to this dilemma — the one that Trump has stumbled on and that Washington refuses to examine — is that Islam is merely a religion. If that’s true, then it is likely that religious liberty will trump constitutional and national-security concerns. How, after all, can a mere religion be a threat to a constitutional system dedicated to religious liberty?

But Islam is no mere religion.

As understood by the mainstream of Muslim-majority countries that are the source of immigration to America and the West, Islam is a comprehensive ideological system that governs all human affairs, from political, economic, and military matters to interpersonal relations and even hygiene. It is beyond dispute that Islam has religious tenets — the oneness of Allah, the belief that Mohammed is the final prophet, the obligation of ritual prayer. Yet these make up only a fraction of what is overwhelmingly a political ideology.

Our constitutional principle of religious liberty is derived from the Western concept that the spiritual realm should be separate from civic and political life. The concept flows from the New Testament injunction to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s.

Crucially, the interpretation of Islam that is mainstream in most Muslim-majority countries does not accept a division between mosque and state. In fact, to invoke “mosque” as the equivalent of “church” in referring to a division between spiritual and political life is itself a misleading projection of Western principles onto Islamic society. A mosque is not merely a house of worship. It does not separate politics from religion any more than Islam as a whole does. There is a reason why many of the fiery political protests that turn riotous in the Middle East occur on Fridays — the Muslim Sabbath, on which people pour out of the mosques with ears still burning from the imam’s sermon.

The lack of separation between spiritual and civic life is not the only problem with Islam. Sharia is counter-constitutional in its most basic elements — beginning with the elementary belief that people do not have a right to govern themselves freely. Islam, instead, requires adherence to sharia and rejection of all law that contradicts it. So we start with fundamental incompatibility, before we ever get to other aspects of sharia: its systematic discrimination against non-Muslims and women; its denial of religious liberty, free speech, economic freedom, privacy rights, due process, and protection from cruel and unusual punishments; and its endorsement of violent jihad in furtherance of protecting and expanding the territory it governs.

Let’s bear in mind that permitting immigration is a discretionary national act. There is no right to immigrate to the United States, and the United States has no obligation to accept immigrants from any country, including Muslim-majority countries. We could lawfully cut off all immigration, period, if we wanted to. Plus, it has always been a basic tenet of legal immigration to promote fidelity to the Constitution and assimilation into American society — principles to which classical sharia is antithetical.

So why isn’t that the end of the matter? Why is Trump being vilified? Why isn’t he being hailed for speaking truth and refusing to bow to political correctness?

Because Islam is more complex in practice than in theory.

In our non-Muslim country, there is no point in debating what the “true” Islam says or whether Muslims are at liberty to ignore or reform classical sharia. There may not be a true Islam. Even if there is one, what non-Muslims think or say about it is of little interest to Muslims. Our job, in any event, is to preserve the Constitution and protect our national security regardless of how Islam’s internal debates are ultimately resolved — if they ever are.

With that understanding, it is simply a fact that many Muslims accept our constitutional principles and do not seek to impose sharia on our society. They have varying rationales for taking this position: Some believe sharia mandates that immigrants accept their host country’s laws; some believe sharia’s troublesome elements are confined to the historical time and place where they arose and are no longer applicable; some think sharia can evolve; some simply ignore sharia altogether but deem themselves devout Muslims because they remain Islamic spiritually and — within the strictures of American law — culturally.

For those Muslims, Islam is, in effect, merely a religion, and as such it deserves our Constitution’s protections.

For other Muslims, however, Islam is a political program with a religious veneer. It does not merit the liberty protections our law accords to religion. It undermines our Constitution and threatens our security. Its anti-assimilationist dictates create a breeding ground for violent jihad.

If we continue mindlessly treating Islam as if it were merely a religion, if we continue ignoring the salient differences between constitutional and sharia principles — thoughtlessly assuming these antithetical systems are compatible — we will never have a sensible immigration policy.

I have no idea what, if anything, Donald Trump knows about sharia. I do know that it’s a system we must account for if we are going to succeed in welcoming pro-Western Muslims who will be a boon to our society while excluding Islamic supremacists who want to destroy it.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a policy fellow at the National Review Institute. His latest book is Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment.

An Islam of Their Very Own

image-see-no-evil-triangleNational Review, by Andrew McCarthy, Dec. 4, 2015:

The day after the San Bernardino jihadist attack that left fourteen dead and even more wounded, my old boss, Rudy Giuliani, came out and said what most sane people are thinking. After hours of pained, halting, incoherent babbling by public officials from President Obama on down about whether the mass-killing by two heavily armed, obviously well-trained Muslims constituted a terrorist attack, Rudy exploded:

You can come to one clear conclusion with the information they have right now. This is an act of terror. The question was motivation. . . . The question here is not, is it an act of terror. We’re beyond that. When you got two assault weapons, two handguns, you’re in body armor, you got a home that’s booby-trapped. You’ve [ACM: meaning “they’ve”] been practicing to do this. . . . If you can’t come to a conclusion at this point that this was an act of terror, you should find something else to do for a living besides law enforcement. I mean, you’re a moron.

Hard to argue with that.

But look, if you actually speak with the police and federal agents conducting the investigation into the attack, you figure out pretty quickly that they are not morons. They are actually very good at what they do. So why is it that, upon seeing two-plus-two, they can’t call it four when Islam is involved?

I’ve been trying to explain this for many years, beginning in Willful Blindness, a memoir about prosecuting terrorists in the Clinton era, and in a stack of columns here at National Review, including one from a few years back that described how our government, under administrations of both parties and the bipartisan Beltway ruling class, has constructed “an Islam of their very own.”

Rudy is right that what they’ve done is moronic, but there is a logic to it. It goes like this.

The government denies that terrorism is caused by Islamic doctrine. This is a triumph of willful blindness and political correctness best illustrated by former British home secretary Jacqui Smith, who might as well have been speaking for our government when she branded terrorism as “anti-Islamic activity.” That is: the savagery is not merely unrelated to Islam but becomes, by dint of its being violence, contrary to Islam. This must be so because the British government, like our government, insists Islam is a “religion of peace.”

Now, this is absurd, of course. There are various ways of interpreting Islam, and millions of Muslims manage to “contextualize” Islamic scripture’s numerous commands to conduct holy war, reasoning that these divine injunctions applied only to their historical time and place and are no longer relevant. Yet, even if you buy this line of thinking, that does not make Islam a peaceful belief system. Verses like “Fight those who believe not in Allah,” and “fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem of war,” are not peaceful injunctions, no matter how one “contextualizes” them.

More to the point, the stubborn reality is: There will always be a large percentage of Muslims who believe these scriptures (and the many others like them) mean exactly what they say.

Our government is in denial of this. Unwilling to deal with Islam as it is, the government must make up an Islam of its very own. Regardless of the abundance of evidence to the contrary, the government holds that Islam is a religion of peace, case closed. (Such a laughable case has to be closed because it cannot withstand even slight examination).

Therefore, to the government, terrorism committed by people who happen to be Muslim is not in any way a reflection of any legitimate interpretation of Islam — even if Islamic supremacist ideology, which endorses jihadist violence, is so mainstream that tens of millions of Muslims adhere to it. Remember, here in America as in Western Europe, the violence is deemed anti-Islamic. That is what has been dictated to our law-enforcement agents by their superiors. If those were your instructions, you’d be babbling like a moron, too.

So, what are the policy implications of the government’s constructing its own fantasy Islam, the one and only principle of which is pacifism? Here are a few of the worst.

It means that Islamic doctrine can never be cited as the cause of terrorism. This leads, for example, to the preposterous government handwringingover “radicalization”: You are apparently supposed to believe young people, all of whom just happen to be Muslim, spontaneously become violent radicals — as if there were no doctrine or body of thought that was inducing the radicalization. You are only to say they have been “radicalized” — never mention by what.

Fantasy Islam also leads inexorably to the irrational decree that terrorist organizations like ISIS and al Qaeda are not Islamic. You are to conclude that they are either wanton killers or that they have “hijacked” and “perverted” Islam into something that it is not — something that cannot be dignified with the name “Islam” because Islam, after all, is a religion of peace.

The most ludicrous fallout of this line of thinking is the one Rudy rightly labels moronic: The apparent inability of government officials to call a mass-murder attack by Muslims a terrorist attack. But again, if you follow the government’s official party line, you understand the reluctance of these officials: The only terrorists the government acknowledges as terrorists are formally designated terrorist groups — ISIS, al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah. As we’ve seen, the government has pronounced these groups to be anti-Islamic.

Thus, if the police come upon a mass-murder attack that is clearly instigated by Islamic doctrine, they are not permitted to conclude that it is terrorism because they’ve been directed to maintain that Islam is against terrorism. Consequently, the agents believe they cannot call terrorism terrorism unless and until they uncover evidence proving that the Muslim mass-murderers have some tie to a designated “non-Islamic” terrorist group, such as ISIS or al-Qaeda.

It is rare for such evidence to be uncovered early in an investigation. And the fact of the matter is, such evidence will often never be uncovered because it doesn’t exist. It will frequently turn out that the Muslims who’ve committed the atrocity have been “radicalized” by Islamic doctrine, straightforwardly interpreted as Islamic supremacism by their fellow Islamists at the local mosque and Islamic center. They don’t need mediation, help, or instruction from ISIS or al Qaeda. They already share the same ideology as these groups, the goal of imposing Allah’s law (sharia). All they really need in order to execute terrorist attacks is paramilitary training. That is readily available in many Muslim communities; you don’t need to go to an al-Qaeda or ISIS training camp to get it.

Notice that there is a treacherous flipside to our government’s insistence on making up its own content-free, obsessively peaceful Islam. Not only can terrorism never be associated with it. Anyone who is publicly associated with Islam by the government must be deemed peaceful. This is how we fall into the trap of allowing the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s most influential Islamic supremacist organization, to infiltrate the policy-making organs of counterterrorism.

The government, particularly under the control of President Obama, acknowledges the Brotherhood as an Islamic organization — notwithstanding the ham-handed attempt by the intelligence community a few years back to rebrand the Brotherhood as “largely secular.” Under the government’s imaginary Islam, acknowledging a group as Islamic perforce gives them a clean bill of health: They are deemed “peaceful,” “moderate,” and steadfastly opposed to terrorism.

And never you mind that Hamas is the Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch, that the Brotherhood has a long history of terrorist violence, and that major Brotherhood figures have gone on to play leading roles in terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda. The beautiful thing about making up an Islam of their very own is that government officials never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

And that’s why they won’t say the terrorist attack in San Bernardino is the terrorist attack in San Bernardino.

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The Controversy over Syrian Refugees Misses the Question We Should Be Asking

Syrian refugees cross to HungaryNational Review by Andrew McCarthy, Nov. 28, 2015:

The jihad waged by radical Islam rips at France from within. The two mass-murder attacks this year that finally induced President Francois Hollande to concede a state of war are only what we see.

Unbound by any First Amendment, the French government exerts pressure on the media to suppress bad news. We do not hear much about the steady thrum of insurrection in the banlieues: the thousands of torched automobiles, the violence against police and other agents of the state, the pressure in Islamic enclaves to ignore the sovereignty of the Republic and conform to the rule of sharia.

What happens in France happens in Belgium. It happens in Sweden where much of Malmo, the third largest city, is controlled by Muslim immigrant gangs — emergency medical personnel attacked routinely enough that they will not respond to calls without police protection, and the police in turn unwilling to enter without back-up. Not long ago in Britain, a soldier was killed and nearly beheaded in broad daylight by jihadistsknown to the intelligence services; dozens of sharia courts now operate throughout the country, even as Muslim activists demand more accommodations. And it was in Germany, which green-lighted Europe’s ongoing influx of Muslim migrants, that Turkey’s Islamist strongmanRecep Tayyip Erdogan proclaimed that pressuring Muslims to assimilate in their new Western countries is “a crime against humanity.”

RELATED: Obama’s Moral Hypocrisy on the Syrian-Refugee Question Is Astounding

So how many of us look across the ocean at Europe and say, “Yeah, let’s bring some of that here”?

None of us with any sense. Alas, “bring it here” is the order of the day in Washington, under the control of leftists bent on fundamentally transforming America (Muslims in America overwhelmingly support Democrats) and the progressive-lite GOP, which fears the “Islamophobia”smear nearly as much as the “racist” smear.

This, no doubt, is why what is described as the “controversy over Syrian refugees” is among the most deceitful public debates in recent memory — which, by Washington standards, is saying something.

RELATED: There Are Serious, Unbigoted Reasons to Be War of a Flood of Syrian Refugees

Under a Carter administration scheme, the Refugee Admissions Program, the United States has admitted hundreds of thousands of aliens since 1980 — and, as the Center for Immigration Studies explains, asylum petitions have surged since the mid-Nineties. If there is a refugee “crisis,” it most certainly is no fault of ours: For example, the U.S. took in two-thirds of the world’s refugees resettled in 2014, with Canada a distant second, admitting about 10 percent.

Those figures come from an invaluable briefing by Refugee Resettlement Watch, which illustrates that the Syrian component is but a fraction of what we must consider. Tens of thousands of what are called “refugees” have come to our shores from Muslim-majority countries. From Iraq alone, the number is 120,000 since 2007, notwithstanding the thousands of American lives and hundreds of billions of American taxpayer dollars sacrificed to make Iraq livable.

Many of the refugees are steered to our country by the United Nations Human Rights Council. Naturally, the UNHRC has a history of bashing Israel on behalf of Palestinian Islamists — indeed, it works closely with the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, one of Hamas’s most notorious sympathizers. The UNHRC works in tandem with the State Department, which resettles the refugees throughout the U.S. with the assistance of lavishly compensated contractors (e.g., the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, other Christian and Jewish outfits, and the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants) — often absent any meaningful consultation with the states in which Washington plants these assimilation-resistant imports.

Responsibility for vetting the immigrants rests with the Department of Homeland Security. As the ongoing controversy has illustrated, however, a background check is only as good as the available information about a person’s background. In refugee pipelines like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Sudan, such information is virtually nonexistent. (But don’t worry, we can rest assured that the UNHRC is doing a fine job.)

RELATED: Media Coverage of Europe’s Migrant Crisis Ignores the Long-Term Problems it Poses

Let’s assume for fantasy’s sake, though, that the vetting is perfect — that we have comprehensive, accurate information on each refugee’s life up to the moment of admission. We would still have a calamity.

There are two reasons for this, and they are easily grasped by the mass of Americans outside the Beltway.

First, vetting only works if you vet for the right thing. Washington, in its delusional Islamophilia, vets only for ties to terrorism, which it defines as “violent extremism” in purblind denial of modern terrorism’s Islamist ideological moorings. As the deteriorating situation in Europe manifests, our actual challenge is Islamic supremacism, of which jihadist terrorism is only a subset.

For nearly a quarter-century, our bipartisan governing class has labored mightily to suppress public discussion of the undeniable nexus between Islamic doctrine and terrorism. Consequently, many Americans are still in the dark about sharia, classical Islam’s societal framework and legal code. We should long ago have recognized sharia as the bright line that separates authentic Muslim moderates, hungry for the West’s culture of reason and individual liberty, from Islamic supremacists, resistant to Western assimilation and insistent on incremental accommodation of Muslim law and mores.

RELATED: Why Does the Left Continue to Insist that Islamic Terrorism Has Nothing to Do with Islam?

The promotion of constitutional principles and civic education has always been foundational to the American immigration and naturalization process. We fatally undermine this process by narrowly vetting for terrorism rather than sharia adherence.

Yes, I can already hear the slander: “You are betraying our commitment to religious liberty.” Please. Even if there were anything colorable to this claim, we are talking about inquiring into the beliefs of aliens who want to enter our country, not citizens entitled to constitutional protections.

But the claim is not colorable in any event — it just underscores how willful blindness to our enemies’ ideology has compromised our security. Only a small fraction of Islamic supremacism involves tenets that, in the West, should be regarded as inviolable religious conviction (e.g., the oneness of Allah, the belief that Mohammed is the final prophet, the obligation to pray five times daily). No one in America has any interest in interfering with that. For Muslims adherent to classical sharia, however, the rest of their belief system has nothing to do with religion (except as a veneer). It instead involves the organization of the state, comprehensive regulation of economic and social life, rules of military engagement, and imposition of a draconian criminal code.

RELATED: The Trouble with the ‘Nation of Immigrants’ Argument

Unlike the Judeo-Christian principles that informed America’s founding, classical sharia does not abide a separation of spiritual from civic and political life. Therefore, to rationalize on religious-liberty grounds our conscious avoidance of Islamist ideology is to miss its thoroughgoing anti-constitutionalism.

Sharia rejects the touchstone of American democracy: the belief that the people have a right to govern themselves and chart their own destiny. In sharia governance, the people are subjects not citizens, and they are powerless to question, much less to change, Allah’s law. Sharia systematically discriminates against women and non-Muslims. It is brutal in its treatment of apostates and homosexuals. It denies freedom of conscience, free expression, property rights, economic liberty, and due process of law. It licenses wars of aggression against infidels for the purpose of establishing sharia as the law of the land.

Sharia is also heavily favored by Muslims in majority-Muslim countries. Polling consistently tells us that upwards of two-thirds of Muslims in the countries from which we are accepting refugees believe sharia should be the governing system.

RELATED: The Left’s Dishonest Biblical Argument for Taking in Syrian Refugees

Thus, since we are vetting for terrorism rather than sharia-adherence, and since we know a significant number of Muslims are sharia-adherent, we are missing the certainty that we are importing an ever-larger population hostile to our society and our Constitution — a population that has been encouraged by influential Islamist scholars and leaders to form Muslim enclaves throughout the West.

This leads seamlessly to the second reason why the influx of refugees is calamitous. Not only are we vetting for the wrong thing, we are ignoring the dynamics of jihadism. The question is not whether we are admitting Muslims who currently have ties to terrorist organizations; it is whether we are admitting Muslims who are apt to become violent jihadists after they settle here.

RELATED: ‘Je Suis … qui?’: A Report from the Banlieues

The jihadism that most threatens Europe now, and that has been a growing problem in the United States for years, is the fifth-column variety. This is often referred to as “homegrown terrorism,” but that is a misnomer. The ideology that ignites terrorism within our borders is not native: It is imported. Furthermore, it is ubiquitously available thanks to modern communications technology

In assessing the dynamic in which ideological inspiration evolves into actual jihadist attacks, we find two necessary ingredients: (1) a mind that is hospitable to jihadism because it is already steeped in Islamic supremacism, and (2) a sharia-enclave environment that endorses jihadism and relentlessly portrays the West as corrupt and hostile.

Our current refugee policies promote both factors.

RELATED: France’s No-Go Zones: Assimilation Resistant Muslims Are the Real Refugee Problem

One last point worth considering: Washington’s debate over refugee policy assumes an unmet American obligation to the world. It is as if we were not already doing and sacrificing far more than every other country combined. It is as if there were not dozens of Islamic countries, far closer than the United States to refugee hot-spots, to which it would be sensible to steer Muslim migrants.

Yet, there is nothing obligatory about any immigration policy, including asylum. There is no global right to come here. American immigration policy is supposed to serve the national interests of the United States. Right now, American immigration policy is serving the interests of immigrants at the expense of American national security and the financial security of distressed American workers.

Our nation is nearing $20 trillion in debt, still fighting in the Middle East, and facing the certain prospect of combat surges to quell the rising threat of jihadism. So why is Congress, under the firm control of Republicans, paying for immigration policies that exacerbate our peril?

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a policy fellow at the National Review Institute. His latest book is Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment.

***

Obama and the ISIS ‘Recruitment Tool’ Canard

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Pool/Sipa USA)

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Pool/Sipa USA)

PJ MEDIA, BY ANDREW C. MCCARTHY NOVEMBER 20, 2015:

I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for ISIS than … Barack Obama.

This puts me at odds with Barack Obama, as is often the case. It is worth explaining my reasoning, though, since – as our bloviator-in-chief is fond of saying – this is a teachable moment.

The president of the United States, shamefully but characteristically, took the opportunity of being on foreign soil – in the Philippines with its large Muslim population – to smear his fellow countrymen over their effort to protect American national security. The Republican initiative, led by Senator Ted Cruz, would thwart Obama’s scheme to import thousands of refugees and prioritize the asylum claims of Christians. In response to this “rhetoric,” Obama seethed, “I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for ISIL.”

The president elaborated that “when you start seeing individuals in position of responsibility suggesting Christians are more worthy of protection than Muslims are in a war-torn land, that feeds the ISIL narrative.”

So tough here to untangle the ignorance from the demagoguery. For starters, asylum does not involve placing comparative values on the lives of different categories of people. And no one would be more offended than Christians at the notion that Christian lives should be valued more highly than those of other human beings. (By contrast, the conceit that Muslim lives – especially the lives of male Muslims – are more worthy than others is a leitmotif of Islamic scripture that is reflected throughout sharia law.)

Asylum, instead, is a remedy for persecution that is controlled by federal law. Obama lashed out at Republicans for promoting a “religious test,” which he claimed was “offensive and contrary to American values.” Yet, because asylum addresses persecution, governing law has always incorporated a religious test. Again, that is not because the lives of one religion’s believers are innately better than others; it is because when religious persecution is occurring, the targeted religion’s believers are inevitably more vulnerable to murder, rape, torture, and other atrocities than co-religionists of the persecutors.

Consequently, longstanding congressional statutes (a) call on aliens claiming to be refugees to prove “a well-founded fear of persecution on account of … religion,” among other things; and (b) require refugees seeking asylum to “establish that … religion [among other things] was or will be at least one central reason for persecuting the applicant.”

Despite his diatribe, I’m going to go out on a limb and conclude that this is not news to Obama, a Harvard-trained lawyer who, for seven years, has been president and thus responsible for executing the asylum laws. He is also well aware, though, that the Muslim audience to which he was appealing, in the Philippines and in the broader ummah, does not have a clue about the vagaries of American immigration statutes.

Obama knows, moreover, that because sharia tells Muslims their lives are more valuable than those of non-Muslims, nothing is more apt to rile them up than an accusation that nativist Americans are portraying them as second-rate. And Obama knows that when Muslims get riled up, Western politicians curl up in a “religion of peace” ball and meekly back down. The president may not keep the U.S. Code on his shelves, but his bag of community-organizer tricks is ever at the ready.

One trick that never gets old is the claim that this or that American policy is a primo “recruitment tool” for jihadists.

Of course, the patent cause of violent jihadism is Islamic supremacist ideology. Washington politicians will not concede this fact because that ideology is unmistakably based on a literal construction of Islamic scripture – the Koran, the hadith, and sacralized biographies of the prophet Muhammad.

As it happens, there are ways of construing Islamic scripture that are not as literal. These constructions inform the view of millions of Muslims that violent jihad and systematic discrimination are not ordained in the modern world. These competing constructions, however, do not change the stubborn reality that Islamic supremacism – what we presume to call “radical” Islam – is a mainstream interpretation of Islam followed by tens of millions of Muslims, among them renowned sharia scholars, violent jihadists, and wily Islamists.

Though neither Republican transnational-progressives nor the hard Left will admit this palpable truth, the rationales of the two camps are significantly different.

The Republican moderates are well-meaning but foolish. Lacking confidence or competence to explain the different interpretations of Islam, they fear that if they concede the nexus between Islamic doctrine and jihadism, they will be perceived as “at war with Islam.” So they relentlessly pretend that the “true” Islam is irenic: a noble quest for justice and tolerance. Because these Republicans are more politically progressive than conservative, they delude themselves into believing their soaring words will someday alter reality: If they say “religion of peace” and “moderate” enough times, Islam will actually become a moderate religion of peace, its sharia seamlessly compatible with our Constitution and Western principles – regardless of what Islamic doctrine actually says.

The Left, to the contrary, is neither well-meaning nor foolish. It will not admit the nexus between Islamic scripture and jihadist terror for two shrewd reasons.

The first is that the alliance with Islamists is useful to the Left. I explained in The Grand Jihad why Islamists and Leftists align, despite their differences on important matters like the rights of women, homosexuals, and the unborn. Both are anti-capitalist, authoritarian central-planners, hostile to individual liberty. They become fast friends whenever they have a common enemy – e.g., the Egyptian monarchy, the shah of Iran, or the Western culture of freedom and reason. If the common enemy is overcome, Islamists and Leftists turn on each other with a vengeance because their utopias cannot coexist. But as long as the common enemy exists, they work well together – just as internecine rivalries between Islamist camps (e.g., Iran and al Qaeda) are set aside in order to present a united front against the West and Israel.

What is the second rationale for the Left’s insistence on bleaching away jihadism’s roots in Islamic doctrine? That brings us back to Obama’s claim that the conservative case against admitting thousands of Syrian refugees is a “recruitment tool” for ISIS.

Obviously, jihad does not erupt out of thin air. The American public, which remains widely uninformed about Islam, realizes something must cause the violence, and that the violence will continue unless that something is overcome. For Leftists, this presents a golden opportunity: They understand that our deeply ingrained tradition of religious liberty – a tradition the Left generally abhors – makes the public resistant to the notion that a religion can cause violence, and thus receptive to the assurance that Islam does not.

So if Islam, in the Left’s telling, has nothing to do with the savagery jihadists commit, what is the cause? Obama and his cohort fill in this blank with … the principles and policies they oppose: robust national defense, American leadership in the world, free speech, sovereignty, economic liberty, income inequality, Christianity, Israel’s character as a Jewish state, Guantanamo Bay, military commissions, … even climate change.

Yes, this is preposterous if you’ve familiarized yourself with Islamic supremacism and classical sharia. But, alas, much of America has not despite a generation of jihad from Tehran to Manhattan to Paris. What a powerful rhetorical weapon it is for the Left to claim that what it opposes is not just wrong but the cause of mass-murder attacks.

In the real world, however, it is the sharia supremacist interpretation of Islam that causes jihadist terror. With that as the foundation, jihadist recruitment has little or nothing to do with the pretexts conveniently conjured by the Left. To the contrary, recruitment is driven by one thing:the perception that jihadists will win. As Osama bin Laden recognized, people are drawn to the strong horse and shun the weak horse.

That is why I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for ISIS than … Barack Obama.

Also see:

How France Became an Inviting Target of the Jihad

paratk2

PJ Media, by Andrew C. McCarthy, Nov. 14, 2015:

Earlier this year, following the Charlie Hebdo massacre and related terrorist attacks in and around Paris, I wrote Islam and Free Speech, a Broadside” that is part of the series published by Encounter Books. The following is an excerpt.

How did we get to this historical anomaly in France where, as the estimable scholar Daniel Pipes observes, “a majority population accepts the customs and even the criminality of a poorer and weaker community”? It is the result of a conquest ideology taking the measure of a civilization that no longer values its heritage, no longer regards itself as worthy of defense.

France’s population of 66 million is now approximately 10 percent Islamic. Estimates are sketchy because, in a vestige of its vanishing secularist tradition, France does not collect census data about religious affiliation. Still, between 6 and 7 million Muslims are reasonably believed to be resident in the country (Pew put the total at 4.7 million back in 2010 – other analysts peg it higher today). To many in France, the number seems higher, due to both the outsize influence of Islamist activists on the political class and the dense Muslim communities in and around Paris – approximating 15 percent of the local population. An online poll conducted by Ipsos Mosi in 2014 found that the average French citizenbelieves Muslims make up about a third of the country’s population.

As night follows day, when Muslim populations surge, so does support for jihadism and the sharia supremacist ideology that catalyzes it. The reason is plain to see, even if Western elites remain willfully blind to it: For a not insignificant percentage of the growing Muslim millions in Europe, infiltration – by both mass immigration and the establishment of swelling Islamic enclaves – is a purposeful strategy of conquest, sometimes referred to as “voluntary apartheid.”

One of its leading advocates is Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. A Qatar-based Egyptian octogenarian, Qaradawi is a Muslim Brotherhood icon. He is a copiously published scholar graduated from Cairo’s al-Azhar University, the seat of Sunni Islamic learning for over a millennium, and thus oversees both the International Union of Muslim Scholars and the European Council for Fatwa and Research. Thanks to his pioneering of the highly trafficked IslamOnline website and, especially, to his hugely popular al-Jazeera television program, Sharia and Life, he has become the world’s most influential sharia jurist.

Qaradawi is the sharia backbone of the violent jihad to exterminate Israel – a tiny country surrounded by hundreds of millions of hostile Muslims. The sheikh also vows that Islam will “conquer” both Europe and America, but acknowledges that this conquest will require a strategy more suited to a determined minority that knows it cannot win by force of arms. The key, he asserts, is dawa, the Muslim equivalent of proselytism. In radical Islam, it is hyper-aggressive, pushing on every cultural cylinder, pressuring every institution, and exploiting the atmosphere of intimidation created by jihadist terror to blur the lines between legal advocacy and extortion.

In France, dawa presses against laïcité, the credo of secularism through the strict separation of religion and the state. Qaradawi is quite clear that “secularism can never enjoy a general acceptance in an Islamic society.” He is equally adamant that Muslims, who are bound to live in accordance with the strictures of sharia, must reject a secular framework because “acceptance of secularism means abandonment of sharia, a denial of the divine guidance and a rejection of Allah’s injunctions.” Thus, he elaborates, “The call for secularism among Muslims is atheism and a rejection of Islam. Its acceptance as a basis for rule in place of sharia is downright apostasy.”

This nexus between free speech and Western democracy is worth pausing over. Notice that, in focusing on the incompatibility between Islamic law and democracy’s secular, pluralist underpinnings, Qaradawi draws the inevitable conclusion that democracy equals apostasy. The term apostasy is not invoked idly in radical Islam. As explained in Reliance of the Traveller, a classic sharia manual endorsed by al-Azhar scholars, the renunciation of Islam is a death penalty offense.

Free speech does not exist in a vacuum. It is the plinth of freedom’s fortress. It is the ineliminable imperative if there is to be the robust exchange of knowledge and ideas, the rule of reason, freedom of conscience, equality before the law, property rights, and equality of opportunity. That is why it must be extinguished if there is to be what Qaradawi calls a “place of religion” – meaning his religion. For all its arrogance and triumphalist claims, radical Islam must suppress speech because it cannot compete in a free market of conscience.

To sustain their movement, therefore, Islamist leaders must separate Muslims from secular society. In the West, this means forming Islamic enclaves in which sharia gradually takes root as the de facto and, eventually, the de jure law – enabling Muslims to resist the challenge of critical thinking under the guise avoiding the near occasion of apostasy. Over time, dominion is established over swaths of not only physical territory but legal privilege. Qaradawi puts the matter succinctly:

Were we to convince Western leaders and decision-makers of our right to live according to our faith — ideologically, legislatively, and ethically — without imposing our views or inflicting harm upon them, we would have traversed an immense barrier in our quest for an Islamic state.

The key to the conquest strategy is to coerce the West into accepting a Muslim right to resist assimilation, to regard sharia as superseding Western law and custom when the two conflict. For precisely this reason, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation – a bloc of 56 Muslim countries (plus the Palestinian Authority) – has decreed that “Muslims should not be marginalized or attempted to be assimilated, but should be accommodated.” Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Islamist president of Turkey who has systematically dismantled that country’s secular, pro-Western system, similarly pronounces that pressuring Muslims to assimilate in the West “is a crime against humanity.”

Free expression is the gateway to assimilation. Consequently, radical Islam cannot tolerate it.

As a result, France is now rife with Zones Urbaines Sensibiles – “sensitive urban areas.” The government officially lists some 751 of them: Islamic enclaves in the banlieues, often referred to as “no go zones” because the indigenous populations discourage the presence of non-Muslims who do not conform to Islamic standards of dress and social interaction, and of public officials – police, fire-fighters, emergency medical teams, and building inspectors – who are seen as symbols of the state’s effort to exercise sovereignty in areas Muslims seek to possess adversely.

Some of these zones inevitably evolve into hotbeds of jihadist activity. As the Gatestone Institute’s Soeren Kern notes, there has been no shortage of Internet traffic suggesting, for example, “the killing of France’s ambassadors, just as the manly Libyan fighters killed the U.S. ambassador in Benghazi.” In a low-intensity jihadist thrum stretching back several years, the torching of automobiles has become a commonplace – as many as 40,000 cars burned annually. Perhaps most alarmingly, over a thousand French Muslims, more than from any other Western country, are estimated to have traveled to Syria to fight for ISIS – meaning many will return to the country as trained, battle-hardened jihadists. Beyond the direct ISIS participants, moreover, the Washington Post has reported that a recent poll found 16 percent of French citizens expressing some degree of support for ISIS – an organization whose rule over the vast territory it has seized is best known for decapitations, rapine, the execution of homosexuals, mass graves, and the enslavement of non-Muslim communities.

Once one grasps the voluntary apartheid strategy, it becomes obvious why radical Islam’s inroads in France, and elsewhere in Europe, seamlessly translate into demands for the enforcement of sharia’s curbs on speech and artistic expression. What is not so obvious is just how profound a challenge to the West this constitutes.

U.S. Pays $400M for U.N. Agency Calling for Attacks on Israeli Jews

one-state-solution-palestinian-violenceNational Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, October 17, 2015

Hillary’s Dangerous Negligence over Benghazi — Again

hillary-email-threatens-benghazi-prosecution-bThe attempt to convict Khatallah for the attack that killed four Americans could falter over Clinton’s deleted e-mails.

National Review, By Andrew C. McCarthy, August 15, 2015:

Who cares if Hillary Clinton is convicted of a crime? What we ought to care about is if Ahmed Abu Khatallah is convicted of a crime.

Khatallah is the only person charged thus far in the attack on a shadowy U.S. government compound in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. Dozens of jihadists participated in the attack, during which four Americans, including U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens, were slain. Yet Khatallah has been singled out for prosecution. As I’ve previously detailed (here and here), the Obama Justice Department has filed an indictment that infuses evidence with politics: Trying to prove the terrorist conspiracy that actually occurred without refuting the Obama/Clinton fiction that the attack was a spontaneous protest ignited by an anti-Muslim Internet video.

That’s why there are worse jobs to have right now than defense counsel for a murderous jihadist.

Mrs. Clinton has spent the last few weeks learning that federal court is not the mainstream media. Because of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits brought by Judicial Watch, she and her top aides are finally being asked tough questions about conducting government business over a private communications system — a system that Clinton designed in order to hide her communications from public inspections, congressional inquiries, and judicial proceedings. We’ve thus learned that Team Clinton may have concealed government records, stored and transmitted classified information on private e-mail systems, and erased tens of thousands of government files.

If Mrs. Clinton thinks FOIA is a headache, wait until she sees what happens when a top government official’s reckless mass deletion of e-mails takes center stage in a terrorism prosecution of intense national interest. Federal criminal court is not the nightly news. There, mass deletion of files is not gently described as “emails a government official chose not to retain”; it is described as “destruction of evidence” and “obstruction of justice.”

RELATED: Contrary to Media Spin, It’s Hillary Who’s Being Investigated, Not Her Server

In criminal cases, the government is required to disclose to the defense any information in its possession that may tend to prove the defendant not guilty of the charges. That includes information that calls into question the prosecution’s version of events, theory of guilt, and credibility.

In the indictment against Khatallah, the Justice Department alleges that nothing of consequence happened until the day of the Benghazi attack, when he is said to have complained aloud that “something” had to be done about “an American facility in Benghazi” that he believed was an illegal intelligence operation masquerading as a diplomatic post. Suddenly, at 9:45 that night, “twenty armed men,” including “close associates of Khatallah” (not identified by prosecutors), “violently breached” the facility. In the ensuing violence, the Americans were killed. Khatallah is alleged to have participated in the mayhem and to have prevented “emergency responders” from stopping it.

Of course, there is far more to the story than the Justice Department has elected to tell.

RELATED: Why Hillary’s Wiping Her E-mail Server Clean Matters More than It Might Seem

In the months preceding September 11, the “diplomatic facility” and other Western compounds in Benghazi had been targeted in terrorist bombings and threats. September 11 would be the eleventh anniversary of the killing of nearly 3,000 Americans by al-Qaeda, which had every incentive to mark that occasion with a significant attack. American forces, moreover, had recently killed Abu Yahya al-Libi, al-Qaeda’s top Libyan operative; that prompted Ayman al-Zawahiri, the terror network’s leader, to call on fellow jihadists to avenge al-Libi — an incitement issued just a day before the Benghazi attack.

So al-Qaeda was very much on the offensive. Obama, however, was on the campaign trail falsely assuring Americans that the terror network had been “decimated.” Obama’s decision to back Libyan “rebels” against Moammar Qaddafi had resulted in the arming of anti-American jihadists and the teetering of Libya on the brink of collapse. Obama, however, was on the campaign trail pronouncing his Libya policy a boon for regional stability.

As Obama next called for the ouster of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and reports surfaced of covert American support for the Syrian “rebels,”arms used by jihadists in Libya were shipped to jihadists in Syria by way of Turkey. Was that why we needed a “diplomatic facility” with a CIA annex in Benghazi, which was a transit point for some of these weapons? Was that why Ambassador Stevens was in Benghazi meeting with Turkey’s ambassador on September 11 despite the obvious peril? The Obama administration refuses to say.

Throughout 2012, American personnel in Benghazi were under heightened terrorist threat. Despite their pleas for more protection, however, the State Department under Secretary Clinton actually reduced security.

Finally, when the September 11 siege occurred, the Obama administration knew from the first moments that it was a terrorist attack of the sort that any competent assessment of the red-blinking intelligence would have predicted. Obama and Hillary Clinton, however, colluded in an elaborate scheme to convince the public that the atrocity was not an al-Qaeda-connected terrorist attack but a spontaneous protest run amok, provoked by an anti-Muslim video.

EDITORIAL: As the FBI Seizes Clinton’s Server, Her E-Mail Scandal Enters a More Serious Phase 

Like all indicted defendants, Khatallah has the right to defend himself by putting the government’s story on trial. Specifically, he could contend that he is being scapegoated for an al-Qaeda plot that was longer in the making. I’d expect him to elaborate that the government singled him out — even though many others were involved — because he was a known critic of American policy who had the misfortune of being in the vicinity of the “diplomatic facility” that night. His prosecution for an allegedly spontaneous attack, he will claim, is an effort to deflect attention from the State Department’s failure to upgrade security, from Obama’s complicity in arming jihadists long before the Benghazi attack, and from the administration’s decision to downplay the role of al-Qaeda (which is not even mentioned in the indictment) while pretending the attack was caused by a video.

Mind you, a defense theory does not have to be true. The defendant has no burden to prove his innocence. To be admissible, it is enough for a defense theory simply to have the potential to cast doubt on the government’s version of events.

RELATED: State Department to Judge: Not Our Job to Search Clinton’s Server

To press such a theory, Khatallah’s lawyer can be expected to argue that the government is hiding evidence that (a) the State Department knew of the continuing al-Qaeda threat but recklessly reduced security before September 11; (b) administration policies had empowered jihadists in Benghazi, who later carried out the attack for which Khatallah is being blamed; and (c) high administration officials, including Secretary Clinton and President Obama, concocted the video story during a tight presidential-election race to divert public attention from questions about who really carried out the Benghazi attack and what was really going on at the “diplomatic facility.”

Her criminal liability is quite beside the point. This is about judgment, credibility, and character.

Laying out this scenario, you can almost hear Khatallah’s lawyer saying, “Your Honor, we believe we are entitled to communications by the secretary of state with other officials. They would demonstrate the government’s knowledge of security lapses, the rising al-Qaeda threat, the fact that the September 11 operation was a terrorist attack, and the identities of attack participants whom the government has chosen not to charge while singling out my client. They would also show the connivance of top government officials in a scheme to convince the public this was a spontaneous attack caused by the video — a scheme that made it easy to frame my client because he happened to be on the scene that night, rather than the terrorist organization that planned it long before.”

A judge gets reversed if he fails to ensure that a defendant gets a fair trial — he cannot ignore defense lawyers the way the press ignores administration critics. On such a showing, then, a judge would be expected to order the prosecutors to search all of the government’s files, including communications by the State Department, and report back to the court about whether there is anything that tends to support the defense claims.

RELATED: Hillary’s E-mail Server Contained Classified Information — Hold Her Accountable

In this instance, the prosecutors would have to reply, “Your Honor, we wish we could but it seems the former secretary of state ran her own e-mail system outside government servers. It also turns out that she destroyed over 30,000 e-mails that she says were about yoga and her daughter’s wedding.”

As the judge’s head seemed to explode, the prosecutor would stammer on: “We’re afraid we can’t verify exactly how many e-mails she destroyed and exactly what they were about. You see, she hit ‘DELETE’ before reviewing them with State Department records custodians, as government guidelines require. And I know this may sound a bit, well, convenient, but it seems there are remarkably few existing e-mails that have anything to do with Benghazi. . . . And, no, we can’t explain why the secretary of state would have had more yoga e-mails than Benghazi e-mails.”

At that point, thanks to Hillary Clinton, the case of a terrorist allegedly responsible for the murder of Americans becomes a trial of whether the government is covering up embarrassing missteps, derelictions of duty, and efforts to deceive the public.

Prior to trial, judges almost never dismiss indictments based on allegations of government misconduct. Such motions are better addressed after the trial is over, when a non-speculative record of the misconduct and its effect on the truth-seeking process has been fully developed.

But there is no need to grapple with such a motion unless the defendant is first convicted. Khatallah’s trial — if the Obama administration goes through with it — will not be an easy one. Expect his lawyers to be given considerable leeway to claim egregious governmental derelictions of duty.

Good defense lawyers can go far on a little leeway. And most of them would tell you they’ve never had a windfall quite like 30,000 e-mails destroyed by the government official at the center of the case.

The Clinton camp is desperate to narrow the latest Hillary scandal to the question of whether she committed indictable classified-information offenses. Her criminal liability is quite beside the point. This is about judgment, credibility, and character.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a policy fellow at the National Review Institute. His latest book is Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment.

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Also see:

Modern Middle East Studies vs. Scholarship

(Majid Saeedi/Getty)

(Majid Saeedi/Getty)

National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, Aug. 10, 2015:

It would be a mistake to say Middle East Studies have been corrupted. For the program’s very purpose has been to serve as a corrupting agent. Specifically, it puts the essence of study — the objective pursuit of knowledge — in disrepute.

Here, of course, I am referring to the modern incarnation of Middle East Studies: an amalgam of leftist and Islamist political dogma that masquerades as an academic discipline. By contrast, the actual study of Middle Eastern history, like the intimately related study of Islamic civilization, is a venerable and vital pursuit — and is still pursued as such by, to take the best example, ASMEA, the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa. Alas, in our hyper-politicized society, the traditional notion of study seems quaint: a vestige of a bygone time when the designations “Orientalist” and “Islamist” referred to subject-matter expertise, not political activism, much less radicalism.

Yet, for Edward Said, the seminal figure in modern Middle East Studies, the object of the game was to slander knowledge itself. Joshua Muravchik nailed it in a 2013 profile of the renowned academic. Said’s animating theory held that “knowledge” was the key that enabled the West to dominate Orientals: The point of pursuing knowledge about “the languages, culture, history, and sociology of societies of the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent,” Said elaborated, was to gain more control over the “subject races” by making “their management easy and profitable.” With real study caricatured as the engine of colonial exploitation, the way was paved for a competing construction of “study” — political agitation to empower the have-nots in the struggle against the haves.

Said was a fitting pioneer for such a fraud. To begin with, he was a professor not of Middle East Studies but of comparative literature. Moreover, the personal history he touted to paper over his want of credentials was sheer fiction: Far from what he purported to be (a Palestinian victim exiled by Jews from his Jerusalem home at age twelve), Said was actually a child of privilege, raised in Cairo and educated in top British and American schools. His Palestinian tie of note was membership in the PLO’s governing council. Like Rashid Khalidi — his protégé, who was later awarded the chair in Modern Arab Studies that Columbia University named in Said’s honor — Said was a reliable apologist of Yassir Arafat, the indefatigable terrorist who infused Palestinian identity with a Soviet-backed Arab nationalism.

To thrive in an Islamic culture, it was not only useful but necessary for Palestinian militancy to accommodate the Islamist sense of divine injunction to wage jihad. From its roots, then, modern Middle East Studies is a political movement aligning leftism and Islamism under the guise of an academic discipline. It is not an objective quest for learning guided by a rich corpus of history and culture; it is a project to impose its pieties as incontestable truth — and to discredit dispassionate analysis in order to achieve that end.

The embrace of Islamism usefully advances this project because Islamist ideology similarly stigmatizes the pursuit of knowledge. Where the leftist frames the West’s reverence for reason as imperialism, the Islamist attacks it on theological grounds.

Sharia, they maintain, is the complete and perfect societal framework and legal code, the path to human life lived in conformity with Allah’s design. Thus, what the West calls “reason” or “the objective pursuit of knowledge” is merely a rationalization for supplanting Allah’s design with the corrupting preferences of Western civilization.

We see how this teaching plays out in practice. Muslim countries that supplement sharia with other legislation add the caveat that no man-made law may contradict Islamic principles. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation — a group of Islamic governments that form a large bloc in the United Nations — even found it necessary in 1990 to promulgate a Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, because Islamists could not accept the Universal Declaration of Human Rights spearheaded by non-Muslim governments after World War II.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s most influential Islamist organization, refers to this enterprise as “the Islamicization of knowledge,” the weaving of historical events and cultural developments into Islamist narratives that confirm sharia-supremacist tenets. The “Islamicization of knowledge” is the express and unapologetic mandate of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), the Virginia-based think tank established by the Brotherhood in 1981.

There are two pertinent observations to be made about the IIIT. First, it has provided an enthusiastic endorsement of Reliance of the Traveller, the English translation of Umdat al-Salik, a classic Arabic sharia manual. The publisher found this seal of approval sufficiently significant to be included in the manual’s preface, along with an endorsement from scholars at the ancient al-Azhar University in Cairo.

The manual is an eye-opener. In addition to detailing sharia’s gruesome hudud penalties (e.g., scourging and death for such offenses as extramarital or homosexual relations), it provides instruction on Islam’s brutally enforced proscriptions against blasphemy and apostasy. These are salient to our consideration: They include prohibitions not only against renunciation and ridicule of Islam but even against objectively true statements that contradict sharia, promote other belief systems, or might otherwise sow discord in the Islamic community.

Obviously, the animating purpose of these principles is to discourage severely the robust exchange of ideas, and even more the scholarly examination of Islamic doctrine and culture. The Islamicization of knowledge is possible only if the objective pursuit of knowledge is not permitted to compete.

That brings us to the second noteworthy observation about the IIIT: It has longstanding ties to the Middle East Studies Association (MESA). Several of these were traced by Cinnamon Stillwell in a 2014 American Thinker essay.

This alliance, the sponsorship by the IIIT of Middle East Studies programs throughout North America, the collaborations between the IIIT and MESA scholars — these are easy to understand. Modern Middle East Studies is a counter-scholarship enterprise that subverts truth to the ends of leftist and Islamist politics. To be clear, it is not an alternative interpretation of reality competing in the marketplace of ideas; it is an anti-Western program that is oblivious to reality and seeks to shut down the marketplace.

We do ourselves and the search for truth great harm by indulging the fiction that anti-American power politics is credible American scholarship.

— Andrew C. McCarthy, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, thanks the Middle East Forum for its sponsorship of this column.