When will Congress finally debate our strategy in Middle East?

Whitney Hunter mourns the loss of her husband. Army Sgt. Jonathon Hunter was killed in Afghanistan during an attack on a NATO convoy. | Chris Bergin | AP Images

Conservative Review, by Daniel Horowitz, Sept. 14, 2017:

The only thing worse than not having a strategy in the Middle East is sending our troops into harm’s way indefinitely without a strategy or even an understanding of who we are fighting and who we are supporting. The lack of concrete guidance from Congress has allowed the war on terror to drift and self-immolate.

Over the past few decades, our foreign policy has operated much like our domestic policy — it has been an utter failure. Much like domestic government programs, our foreign policy is completely backward and harms our national interests, but we continue to perpetuate the same policies because of the incumbent powers and special interests in charge.

Moreover, we are called upon to further bail out and treat the endless symptoms of those policies, rather than reviewing the source of the problem. Much like federal intervention in housing, education, and health care, our nation-building in Baghdad and Kabul have become too big to fail, even though the region has changed completely since the original mission.

It is in this vein that Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., offered an amendment to the defense authorization bill (NDAA), in order to inject a much-needed debate over our involvement in the Middle East after 15-16 years of failure. Sen Paul’s amendment would sunset the twin authorizations of military force (AUMF) Congress originally granted the president for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The amendment was defeated 61-36.

Some conservatives might not want to carte blanche remove reauthorization without proposing a new one refocusing our military’s priorities. However, even those who opposed Rand’s tactic or are concerned that he might not be tough enough on the true threats of Iran and North Korea, must agree that the time has come to update the AUMF and finally force a national debate on what we are doing in the Middle East.

The world has changed immensely over the past 15 years — Iraq and Afghanistan in particular

Let’s put the original debate over our investment in those two theaters on the shelf for a moment. The authorization of military force in those two countries was clear: kicking out the Taliban in Afghanistan and removing Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Fifteen years later, we have a muddled mess in Afghanistan and a complete opposite dynamic in Iraq than the one that originally involved our military.

While the 2001 AUMF also tasked the president with destroying the terrorists behind 9/11, between regime changes, changes in terrorist organizations, and multiple civil wars between various groups (all enemies to the U.S. but not all posing equal strategic threats) the entire geo-political structure has changed so much. The time has come to properly articulate on paper what and who we are fighting or supporting, as well as a strategy to place our interests first.

The notion that a 15-year-old AUMF for the removal of Saddam would now suddenly authorize the endless use of the military to prop up an Iranian-puppet government in Baghdad is unconscionable. The Pentagon has no understanding of who we are fighting for, who we are fighting against, how the ground will be held, and why it is in our interests (and not harming our interests).

Afghanistan is no better. Trump recently announced a mini troop surge, but as we noted at the time there is still no clear strategy as to how we put the country together after 16 years of failure with just 4,000 more troops (when 150,000 coalition troops and others have failed for 1,300 years).

If anyone has answers to these questions, now is the time to air them out through a national debate. We have spent several trillion dollars in those two countries only to hand over the Middle East to Iran and waste our time in the mud huts of the Hindu Kush while Iran, Turkey, and Qatar pose greater threats and North Korea can hit U.S. soil with nukes. This debate must not be off limits.

Also of importance is the fact we stand at a crossroads in both theaters. The Taliban controls more territory than ever and the Afghani government is more corrupt (and Islamist) than ever. Ironically, they are already negotiating with the Taliban.

This is no longer about 9/11, and while technically any fight against the Taliban is covered by the 2001 AUMF, shouldn’t Congress have a new debate with so many changes on the ground?

In Iraq, we are now at the point where ISIS (which, for argument’s sake, let’s say is covered by the AUMF against terrorism) is on its last legs. And almost all of the territory vacated by them has been handed over to Iranian proxies on the tab of our military.

So yes, we are following the 2001 AUMF to fight terrorists, but doing so is arguably only benefitting the bigger threat — Iranian hegemony and Hezbollah (which has a vastly greater network in the Western Hemisphere than any other jihadist organization). Iran was certainly more behind 9/11 than Saddam Hussein and also harbored terrorists.

Mattis and McMaster have prevented our soldiers from fighting Iranian proxies and downright view them as allies in the theater, just like Obama did. Thus, we are now fighting in Iraq on behalf of a government that should be an enemy under the first AUMF, in order to fight a new enemy that is on the decline and not included in the 2002 AUMF.

Furthermore, the Kurds may very soon declare independence, but our government is declining to support the only ally in Iraq and is kowtowing to the Iranian puppets in Baghdad. Are we going to continue supporting the Iranian-backed government that is not only an enemy of the U.S. in its own right but whose hegemony over Sunni areas will continue fueling Sunni insurgencies that we will continue refereeing with our military?

Shouldn’t we just support the Kurds and allow them to take as much land as possible while leaving our military out of the Iranian-Sunni fight? I have my views on this issue, but we at least need a robust debate to air out these concerns as we stand at a critical crossroads.

The founders had great wisdom in vesting war powers with Congress

This is not about tying the hands of the commander in chief, this is about empowering him with clarity of mission and the united resolve of the people.

Our founders vested the power to declare war in the hands of the legislature, not only to preempt an imperial presidency but as part of the social contract of consent-based governance — that such an important decision should have the buy-in of the people as expressed through their elected representatives.

In the words of James Madison, they wanted “strict adherence” to the “fundamental doctrine” that the power of “judging the causes of war” (not the actual execution) be “fully and exclusively vested in the legislature.”

A declaration of war, or at least the crafting of an AUMF, allows the entire representative body of the people to raise the important questions about all aspects and strategy of the mission. If Congress votes to pass a resolution, it serves as a definitive guide for what success looks like. This further serves the purpose of rallying the country behind a defined mission, because public support is always needed to achieve such victory.

Yet, we are stuck with a dynamic — much like with failed domestic programs — where the rent-seekers in government and failed military leadership are perpetuating the failing and rudderless status quo.

Clearly, the president himself doesn’t feel comfortable with what we are doing in the Middle East, but nonetheless feels compelled to simply “stay the course” because of the endless threats and arguments regarding “destabilization.”

The American people are left out in the cold while their representatives, and even the president, aren’t controlling the priorities of our military engagements. This is not consent-based governance. This is why it’s so important for the administration to send Congress a new request updating the AUMF.

Some have criticized Sen. Paul for trying to yank the AUMF without a new replacement. Fine, let’s propose one, but propose one we must. In the meantime, pursuant to the War Powers Act, the president can always act swiftly to respond to an immediate short-term threat.

Does this make me a pacifist? Just the opposite. We have certainly laid out a list of priorities and DOs and DON’Ts that should guide a new AUMF.

UTT Storms Nebraska & Iowa Leaving Hamas/CAIR in Its Wake

Understanding the Threat, by John Guandolo, Sept. 18, 2017:

Understanding the Threat (UTT) stormed Nebraska and Iowa last week speaking to several audiences and educating them about the threat of the Islamic Movement in the United States.

The multi-day trip, hosted by the Global Faith Institute of Omaha, culminated in an event in front of 150 citizens in the rural town of Oakland, Iowa (Pottawattamie County) where a dozen or so Marxists and jihadis (“terrorists”) sat in the front row during the event holding up newspapers in protest, while outside the venue protesters mingled with some holding signs professionally printed by “socialistworkers.org.”

A protester at the UTT presentation holds a sign printed by SocialistWorkers.org

Hamas officials, including Miriam Amer – the Director of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) Iowa, were present along with those supporting the terrorist group, including democrat Glenn Hurst, a candidate for the Board of Supervisors.

Pottawattamie County (IA) GOP Chairman Jeff Jorgensen introduces UTT while Hamas leaders and Marxists look on

Democrat candidate for Board of Supervisors Glenn Hurst attempts to disrupt UTT event

The discredited anti-American Marxist group Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) also made attempts to have the event canceled.

The overwhelming majority of the crowd came to listen and learn more about real threats to the community, but Marxists and jihadists are not about free speech, they are about controlling the message.

Local officials working with Hamas and Marxists/subversive groups like SPLC is exactly what UTT means when it discusses the “Red-Green Axis.”

Hamas/CAIR affiliated jihadi tried to create disruptions at the event with no success

Understanding the Threat was filming the event for a professional upcoming DVD, so the exchanges between Hamas (dba CAIR) and UTT is well-documented.  For a snippet of the event, watch a 2 minute video HERE.

The Chairman of the Pottawattamie County GOP, Jeff Jorgensen, strongly supported the Understanding the Threat (UTT) presentation and demonstrated great courage.  The rest of the county GOP, however, as well as the Iowa State GOP shied away from the event and went to great lengths to make sure they were not in support of what Mr. Jorgensen was doing.

Through all of this, as usual, none of the detractors – including the local media – mentioned the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) was identified by the U.S. government as being created by the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee, which is Hamas in the United States.  Nor was it mentioned by the media or others – besides UTT – that UTT’s Vice President Chris Gaubatz spent several months undercover at CAIR’s office in MD/VA and its headquarters in Washington, D.C. pulling over 12,000 documents out of their offices revealing CAIR is involved in criminal activity including fraud, sedition, and terrorism, among others.

Those in attendance did come to learn that many of the Islamic centers/mosques and organizations around Nebraska and Iowa – the Islamic Center of Omaha and the Islamic Foundation of Lincoln for instance – are owned/controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Why, you might ask, would the Islamic and Marxist Movements care UTT is speaking to crowds in rural Iowa?  Because the enemy is currently working in Iowa to influence Presidential elections and is not pleased UTT is spreading truth!

The Global Faith Institute was founded by Dr. Mark Christian, a former muslim Imam who became a Christian and speaks frankly about the dangers of Islam.  Dr. Christian made it clear the information UTT teaches about Islam is right on the mark.  Pun intended.

Another victory in this long battle.  Many more to come.

John Guandolo is a US Naval Academy graduate, served as an Infantry/Reconnaissance officer in the United States Marines and is a combat veteran, served as a Special Agent in the FBI from 1996-2008, and was recruited out of the FBI by the Department of Defense to conduct strategic analysis of the Islamic threat. He is the President and Founder of Understanding the Threat (UTT).

Also see:

Brigitte Gabriel: ‘Something Has Happened in the Trump Presidency’ Regarding Radical Islam

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Breitbart, by Dan Rhiehl, Sept. 12, 2017:

Brigitte Gabriel, president of Act for America and author of They Must Be Stopped: Why We Must Defeat Radical Islam and How We Can Do It, spoke with Breitbart News Daily SiriusXM host Raheem Kassam regarding her Breitbart News piece on 9/11 and President Trump’s failure to mention “radical Islamic terrorism” in his speech Monday.

Citing the speech, Gabriel said, “Yesterday, it was obvious that something has happened in the Trump presidency that has changed and changed dramatically. When I listened to the speeches yesterday – like you mentioned – by all the leaders in the administration – by Trump, by Mattis, by Pence – it was literally a speech that could have been uttered by President Obama himself.”

Gabriel went on to discuss the Saudis and their funding of mosques in America that she claims are linked to preaching hate.

LISTEN:

‘KNOWN WOLF’ TERROR SCANDAL: CIA Knew About 9-11 Hijackers, Didn’t Provide Intel to FBI

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, Sept. 11, 2017:

As I’ve recounted in more than 30 articles here at PJ Media over the past three years, virtually every Islamic terrorist who has conducted an attack in the West since 9/11 has already been known to authorities, which prompted me to coin the phrase “known wolf” terrorism.

Amidst today’s commemoration of the 16th anniversary of 9/11, it bears recalling that 9/11 itself was a “known wolf” attack too.

The fact is that the CIA had intelligence that two Saudi 9/11 hijackers were living in the United States, but they deliberately refused to share the information with the FBI who had authority to act on such information and possibly prevent the 9/11 attacks.

In many respects, the 3,000 Americans killed on 9/11 were not only the victims of Al-Qaeda terrorists, but also bureaucratic incompetence and inter-governmental turf wars.

Who among those who sat on the information were punished? Well, none were. The CIA sitting on critical intelligence until just days before the attack was couched in the larger excuse of “intelligence failures” and swept under the rug.

Some of what we known about the CIA’s pre-9/11 intelligence about the hijackers comes from a joint congressional inquiry several years after the attacks, but the most revealing information has come from former FBI agent Mark Rossini, who though a FBI agent was assigned to the CIA and prevented from sharing the information with his colleagues.

Two years ago, Jeff Stein at Newsweek detailed Rossini’s story:

Rossini is well placed to do just that. He’s been at the center of one of the enduring mysteries of 9/11: Why the CIA refused to share information with the FBI (or any other agency) about the arrival of at least two well-known Al-Qaeda operatives in the United States in 2000, even though the spy agency had been tracking them closely for years.

That the CIA did block him and Doug Miller, a fellow FBI agent assigned to the “Alec Station,” the cover name for CIA’s Osama bin Laden unit, from notifying bureau headquarters about the terrorists has been told before, most notably in a 2009 Nova documentary on PBS, “The Spy Factory.” Rossini and Miller related how they learned earlier from the CIA that one of the terrorists (and future hijacker), Khalid al-Mihdhar, had multi-entry visas on a Saudi passport to enter the United States. When Miller drafted a report for FBI headquarters, a CIA manager in the top-secret unit told him to hold off. Incredulous, Miller and Rossini had to back down. The station’s rules prohibited them from talking to anyone outside their top-secret group.

The various commissions and internal agency reviews that examined the “intelligence failure” of 9/11 blamed institutional habits and personal rivalries among CIA, FBI and National Security Agency (NSA) officials for preventing them from sharing information. Out of those reviews came the creation of a new directorate of national intelligence, which stripped the CIA of its coordinating authority. But blaming “the system” sidesteps the issue of why one CIA officer in particular, Michael Anne Casey, ordered Rossini’s cohort, Miller, not to alert the FBI about al-Mihdhar. Or why the CIA’s Alec Station bosses failed to alert the FBI—or any other law enforcement agency—about the arrival of Nawaf al-Hazmi, another key Al-Qaeda operative (and future hijacker) the agency had been tracking to and from a terrorist summit in Malaysia.

Because Casey remains undercover at the CIA, Rossini does not name her in his unfinished manuscript. But he wrote, “When I confronted this person…she told me that ‘this was not a matter for the FBI. The next al-Qaeda attack is going to happen in Southeast Asia and their visas for America are just a diversion. You are not to tell the FBI about it. When and if we want the FBI to know about it, we will.’

Rossini recalled going to Miller’s cubicle right after his conversation with Casey. “He looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language.… We were both stunned and could not understand why the FBI was not going to be told about this.”

It remains a mystery. None of the post-9/11 investigating bodies were able to get to the bottom of it, in part because Rossini and Miller, who continued to work at Alec Station after the attacks, didn’t tell anyone what happened there. When congressional investigators came sniffing around, they kept their mouths shut.

“We were told not to say anything to them,” Rossini said. Who told you that? I asked. “The CIA. I can’t name names. It was just understood in the office that they were not to be trusted, that [the congressional investigators] were trying to pin this on someone, that they were trying to put someone in jail. They said [the investigators] weren’t authorized to know what was going on operationally.… When we were interviewed, the CIA had a person in the room, monitoring us.”

As a result, Rossini wasn’t interviewed by the subsequent 9/11 Commission, either. “Based on that interview, I guess the 9/11 Commission [which followed up the congressional probe] thought I didn’t have anything worthy to say.” He kept his secret, he said, from the Justice Department’s inspector general as well. “I was still in shock,” he added, and still fearful of violating Alec Station’s demand for omerta. Finally, when his own agency—the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR)—came to him in late 2004, after the congressional probe and 9/11 Commission had issued their reports, he opened up.

The CIA has long insisted it shared intelligence about al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi with the FBI, but records gathered by the 9/11 Commission contradict this assertion. Indeed, the panel could find no records supporting the claim of another Alec Station supervisor, Alfreda Bikowsky, that she had hand-carried a report to the FBI.

“The FBI is telling the truth,” Philip Zelikow, executive director of the 9/11 Commission, told Newsweek. As for why the CIA not only failed to share pre-9/11 information on Al-Qaeda operatives but forbade the FBI agents in Alec Station from sharing it, Zelikow said, “We don’t know.”

Ironically, the intelligence that the CIA was holding onto was from a lead developed by the FBI investigating the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen.

The FBI had pinpointed an Al-Qaeda operative named Ahmed Al-Hada and from there mapped an extensive network, but the monitoring and intelligence gathering was the purview of the intelligence community, not the FBI.

Lawrence Wright of The New Yorker traced the intelligence the CIA developed on the 9/11 hijackers based on that FBI lead:

A conversation on the Hada phone at the end of 1999 mentioned a forthcoming meeting of Al Qaeda operatives in Malaysia. The C.I.A. learned the name of one participant, Khaled al-Mihdhar, and the first name of another: Nawaf. Both men were Saudi citizens. The C.I.A. did not pass this intelligence to the F.B.I.

However, the C.I.A. did share the information with Saudi authorities, who told the agency that Mihdhar and a man named Nawaf al-Hazmi were members of Al Qaeda. Based on this intelligence, the C.I.A. broke into a hotel room in Dubai where Mihdhar was staying, en route to Malaysia. The operatives photocopied Mihdhar’s passport and faxed it to Alec Station, the C.I.A. unit devoted to tracking bin Laden. Inside the passport was the critical information that Mihdhar had a U.S. visa. The agency did not alert the F.B.I. or the State Department so that Mihdhar’s name could be put on a terror watch list, which would have prevented him from entering the U.S.

The C.I.A. asked Malaysian authorities to provide surveillance of the meeting in Kuala Lumpur, which took place on January 5, 2000, at a condominium overlooking a golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus. The condo was owned by a Malaysian businessman who had ties to Al Qaeda. The pay phone that Soufan had queried the agency about was directly in front of the condo. Khallad used it to place calls to Quso in Yemen. Although the C.I.A. later denied that it knew anything about the phone, the number was recorded in the Malaysians’ surveillance log, which was given to the agency.

At the time of the Kuala Lumpur meeting, Special Branch, the Malaysian secret service, photographed about a dozen Al Qaeda associates outside the condo and visiting nearby Internet cafés. These pictures were turned over to the C.I.A. The meeting was not wiretapped; had it been, the agency might have uncovered the plots that culminated in the bombing of the Cole and the September 11, 2001, attacks. On January 8th, Special Branch notified the C.I.A. that three of the men who had been at the meeting—Mihdhar, Hazmi, and Khallad—were travelling together to Bangkok. There Khallad met with Quso and one of the suicide bombers of the Cole. Quso gave Khallad the thirty-six thousand dollars, which was most likely used to buy tickets to Los Angeles for Mihdhar and Hazmi and provide them with living expenses in the U.S. Both men ended up on planes involved in the September 11th attacks.

In March, the C.I.A. learned that Hazmi had flown to Los Angeles two months earlier, on January 15th. Had the agency checked the flight manifest, it would have noticed that Mihdhar was traveling with him. Once again, the agency neglected to inform the F.B.I. or the State Department that at least one Al Qaeda operative was in the country.

Although the C.I.A. was legally bound to share this kind of information with the bureau, it was protective of sensitive intelligence. The agency sometimes feared that F.B.I. prosecutions resulting from such intelligence might compromise its relationships with foreign services, although there were safeguards to protect confidential information. The C.I.A. was particularly wary of O’Neill, who demanded control of any case that touched on an F.B.I. investigation. Many C.I.A. officials disliked him and feared that he could not be trusted with sensitive intelligence. “O’Neill was duplicitous,” Michael Scheuer, the official who founded Alec Station but has now left the C.I.A., told me. “He had no concerns outside of making the bureau look good.” Several of O’Neill’s subordinates suggested that the C.I.A. hid the information out of personal animosity. “They hated John,” the F.B.I. counterterrorism official assigned to Alec Station told me. “They knew that John would have marched in there and taken control of that case.”

The C.I.A. may also have been protecting an overseas operation and was afraid that the F.B.I. would expose it. Moreover, Mihdhar and Hazmi could have seemed like attractive recruitment possibilities—the C.I.A. was desperate for a source inside Al Qaeda, having failed to penetrate the inner circle or even to place someone in the training camps, even though they were largely open to anyone who showed up. However, once Mihdhar and Hazmi entered the United States they were the province of the F.B.I. The C.I.A. has no legal authority to operate inside the country.

The CIA’s turf war with the FBI, in fact, would cost John O’Neill his life on 9/11. Having retired from the FBI in July 2001, he took up a new position as director of security for the World Trade Center. He died on the job during the attacks.

Other FBI agents working leads related to the 9/11 cell have also expressed frustration at the CIA’s reluctance to share the critical intelligence regarding Mihdhar and Hazmi with the FBI.

The terrorist pair had come under the watch of San Diego FBI agent Steven Butler when they lived there, but the information about their role in the Al-Qaeda network was never shared.

Two seasoned New York FBI terror investigators, Frank Pellegrino and John Anticev, also lament that the CIA’s intelligence could have helped prevent the 9/11 attacks.

The view raised by Wright in his New Yorker article that the CIA may have planned to, or possibly unsuccessfully tried to, recruit Mihdhar and Hazmi has the support of at least one senior official.

In a video interview for a documentary, Richard Clarke, who served as counter-terrorism ‘czar’ for President Bill Clinton and then President George W. Bush, speculates that this failed CIA recruitment scenario is exactly what happened (particularly ~4:00-8:00):

As Clarke, who was directly involved in a senior role in the events before and after 9/11, notes the CIA did finally turn over the information about the presence of Mihdhar and Hazmi in the U.S. three weeks before 9/11 on August 21st, but only after they had lost contact with the pair.

Clarke also notes that the information was only shared with lower level FBI officials and never with senior management.

But at a September 4th meeting on terrorism with Cabinet-level officials at the White House, the presence of two known Al-Qaeda operatives inside the United States was curiously never mentioned, let alone discussed.

One week later, 3,000 Americans would be dead, the World Trade Center would be destroyed, the Pentagon would be heavily damaged, and the U.S. economy would lose $1 trillion in value in just a few days.

As horrific as 9/11 was – the most lethal terrorist attack in modern world history – it is compounded by the tragedy that the reasons why that attack was allowed to happen have STILL never been fully investigated, let alone revealed.

And with each subsequent terror attack in the U.S., we discover that the suspects were again known to law enforcement and intelligence officials — “known wolf” attacks — with all indications that the negligence and mistakes made prior to 9/11 are still being made costing American lives.

That scandal demeans the lives of all those lost on that terrible day.

HOW CAN WE DEFEAT AN ENEMY WE CAN’T IDENTIFY?

aliven | Getty Images

Conservative Review, by Jordan Schachtel, Sept, 11, 2017:

Sixteen years after 9/11, Washington is still afraid to the name the enemy.

It continues to be painfully difficult for our leaders to utter the words “radical Islam” or any substitute meant to connote that there is a religious element to the global jihad being waged upon us. As with Voldemort in the Harry Potter series, presidents since 9/11 have chosen not to name the enemy, instead referring to our jihadi adversaries as “extremists” or “terrorists” and countless other boilerplate terms determined by our representatives in government as politically appropriate.

The whitewashing of the very Islamic nature of jihadi terror not only misleads the public, but makes it impossible for government and military officials to focus on what is motivating our enemies and how to stop them from continuing to threaten us. What is it that connects the ISIS leader in Raqqa to the hate-preaching U.S.-born Imam in California to the Uighur militants in western China? To our 21st century leadership, it’s not radical Islamic doctrine, but some kind of widespread mental disorder without a name.

From Presidents Bush 43 to Obama and now President Trump, the leader of the free world since 9/11 has pointedly refused to name the enemy that seeks our demise.

And although Osama bin Laden justified the killings of Americans in the name of Islam (through religious declarations known as fatwas), discussion about the radical Islamic component of 9/11 were immediately quashed. We were told there are no issues with Islam whatsoever, even as millions and millions took up arms against the West, citing Islam’s call for war against infidels.

Everyone had their excuses for failing to define the enemy.

To Presidents Bush and Obama, groups like al-Qaeda and other jihadist entities were merely a bunch of deranged, bloodthirsty maniacs who were not linked by any particular doctrine.

President Bush took pains to ignore the dangerous components of Islam and define it wholly as a “religion of peace.”

Just six days after the attacks, Bush remarked at the Islamic Center of Washington: “The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war.”

Bush 43’s gross abdication of responsibility in defining our enemies continued into the Obama era.

President Obama became famously known for making sure to censor language that could possibly be interpreted as connecting our Islamic enemies (such as the terror state in Iran and the Islamic State terror group) to the Muslim faith.

“ISIL is not Islamic … ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple, and it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way, ” President Obama said in a 2014 speech.

To both Obama and Bush, jihadist groups killed for the sake of killing, and nothing more, at least according to their public messaging.

“There is no doubt, and I’ve said repeatedly, where we see terrorist organizations like al Qaeda or ISIL — They have perverted and distorted and tried to claim the mantle of Islam for an excuse for basically barbarism and death,” Obama said in a 2016 town hall.

And then came President Trump.

On the campaign trail, Trump ran as a candidate who had no issue with defining our enemy as “radical Islamic terrorists.” But since becoming president, he has fallen prey to the D.C. Swamp’s way of thinking on the issue.

Comparable to his predecessors, Trump has largely refrained from addressing the ideology that motivated the 9/11 hijackers. In his most recent speech on Afghanistan, Trump did not once discuss radical Islam, but only the “evil ideology” of our enemies. Like Bush and Obama, Trump has taken to understanding global jihadists as just a bunch of random lowlives.

“Terrorists who slaughter innocent people will find no glory in this life or the next. They are nothing but thugs and criminals and predators and — that’s right — losers,” Trump said in his Afghanistan speech.

We must never forget that the 9/11 hijackers were not poor, delusional individuals, as previous administrations tried to frame them. They were motivated by a specific doctrine. It wasn’t a coincidence that they used the Islamic war cry “Allahu Akbar” as they carried out by far the deadliest terror attack in American history.

But you can’t begin to defeat an enemy when you refuse to identify what it stands for. Even our Arab Muslim partners have come to determine and point out that there is a branch of Islamic doctrine that is growing at an exponential rate. Now is the time for our leaders to stand with them and take on this ideological enemy.

Sixteen years after 9/11, our leaders continue to pretend that there is no interconnectedness to the global threat of radical Islamic terror. If the politically correct policies of shielding Islam from the implications of terror continue, America’s long war will become its forever war.

Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel.

9/11/2017: Trump, Pence, Mattis, Sessions Fail to Name ‘Radical Islamic Terrorism’

AP/Susan Walsh

Breitbart, by Aaron Klein, Sept. 11, 2017:

NEW YORK — On the sixteenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, Islamic terrorist attacks, President Donald Trump did not once mention the terms “radical Islam” or “Islamic terrorism” during a commemoration ceremony at the Pentagon.

Those phrases were also not mentioned in speeches today by other Trump administration senior officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary James Mattis, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Instead of naming the enemy, Trump seemingly went out of his way to use other descriptors in his speech, including “terrorists who attacked us,” “barbaric forces of evil and destruction,” “horrible, horrible enemies,” “enemies of all civilized people,” and “enemies like we’ve never seen before.”

Similarly, Pence, speaking at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, referred to the scourge as “evil terrorists” and “global terrorism.” Pence did mention “the barbarians known as ISIS,” calling the global jihadist group by its acronym instead of the Islamic State.

Mattis, addressing the same Pentagon memorial as Trump, outwardly minimized the Islamic motivations of the terrorists by calling them “maniacs disguised in false religious garb.” He referred to “attackers perpetrating murder” on that fateful day, not even using the words “terrorist” or “terrorism.”

Sessions perhaps came closest to prescribing a religious ideology, calling out “extremists” who “seek to impose their speech codes, their religion, their theocracy.”

“For these extremists, it’s more than religion; it’s ideology,” he stated. “We have no choice but to defend against it.”

But Sessions did not mention a specific religion and did not expound upon which ideology the terrorists maintain.

When speaking of common threads among terrorists, Sessions also failed to mention the one major thread of Islam when he stated:

While the threats we face are diverse and evolving, terrorist ideologies have one thing in common: their disregard for the dignity of human life and they share an obsession with forcing everyone into their twisted ideology. And the terrorists know they can’t persuade people using reason, so they use coercion and intimidation. They seek acquiescence and inaction.

Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke released a brief statement that referred to the 9/11 radical Islamic jihadist perpetrators as “terrorists.”

Trump’s reluctance to name the actual enemy contrasts with speeches he gave in the past, including during the 2016 presidential campaign, in which he repeatedly utilized the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism.”

“America was under attack,” stated Trump at Monday’s Pentagon memorial, a passive tone that did not specify who the attackers were.

“Today, our entire nation grieves with you and with every family of those 2,977 innocent souls who were murdered by terrorists 16 years ago,” he stated.

“The terrorists who attacked us thought they could incite fear and weaken our spirit. But America cannot be intimidated, and those who try will soon join the long list of vanquished enemies who dared to test our mettle.”

Trump went on to use various other terms to describe the enemy:

In the years after September 11, more than five million young men and women have joined the ranks of our great military to defend our country against barbaric forces of evil and destruction. American forces are relentlessly pursuing and destroying the enemies of all civilized people, ensuring — and these are horrible, horrible enemies, enemies like we’ve never seen before — but we’re ensuring they never again have a safe haven to launch attacks against our country. We are making plain to these savage killers that there is no dark corner beyond our reach, no sanctuary beyond our grasp, and nowhere to hide anywhere on this very large earth.

So here at this memorial, with hearts both sad and determined, we honor every hero who keeps us safe and free, and we pledge to work together, to fight together, and to overcome together every enemy and obstacle that’s ever in our path.

Pence did quote a previous statement from Trump about terrorists’ “radical ideology” but, like the other administration officials speaking, did not say what that ideology was:

But under the leadership of President Donald Trump, as our commander-in-chief, our armed forces have ISIS on the run in Iraq and Syria, and we will not rest or relent until we hunt down and destroy them at their source. Some four weeks ago, President Trump expressed the full commitment of the United States to, in his words, “destroy terrorist organizations and the radical ideology that drives them.

The uniform lack of the mention of radical Islamic terrorism from the administration Monday comes after previous reports that H.R. McMaster, Trump’s embattled national security adviser, has petitioned against using the phrase.

In February, CNN cited a source inside a National Security Council meeting quoting McMaster as saying that use of the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” is unhelpful in working with allies to fight terrorism.

In May, McMaster spoke on ABC’s This Week about whether Trump would use the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” in a speech that the president was about to give in Saudi Arabia. “The president will call it whatever he wants to call it,” McMaster said. “But I think it’s important that, whatever we call it, we recognize that [extremists] are not religious people. And, in fact, these enemies of all civilizations, what they want to do is to cloak their criminal behavior under this false idea of some kind of religious war.”

This reporter previously exposed numerous instances of McMaster’s minimizing the Islamic motivations of radical Muslim terrorists.

Breitbart News unearthed a 2014 speech on the Middle East in which McMaster claimed that Islamic terrorist organizations are “really un-Islamic” and are “really irreligious organizations” who cloak themselves in the “false legitimacy of Islam.”

Delivering the keynote address at last April’s Norwich University ROTC Centennial Symposium, McMaster criticized “modern day barbarians like Daesh and al-Qaeda who cynically use a perverted interpretation of religion to perpetuate ignorance, incite hatred, and commit the most heinous crimes against innocents.”

Breitbart News also reported that McMaster endorsed and touted a book that frames jihad as a largely peaceful “means to struggle or exert effort,” such as waking up early in the morning to recite prayers. It argues that groups like al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations have hijacked the concept of jihad to wage warfare using such tactics as suicide bombings.

That same book calls Hamas an “Islamist political group” while failing to categorize the deadly organization as a terrorist group and refers to al-Qaeda attacks and anti-Israel terrorism as “resistance.”

Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, Aaron Klein Investigative Radio. Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.

Winning the longest war 16 years after 9/11

The Hill, by Sebastian Gorka, September 11, 2017:

On Sept. 11, 2001, thousands of Americans were killed in the worst mass casualty terror attack of the modern age. No American war has lasted as long as the one that began on that dreadful Tuesday morning, 16 years ago today. Since then, we have engaged in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and deployed our military and intelligence assets across the globe to neutralize the threat of jihadi terrorism to America and her citizens.

We restructured our national security enterprise in a reform more drastic than any since the 1947 National Security Act, which created the National Security Council and the CIA. We have spent trillions of dollars to fund these campaigns and government reforms. And thousands of our servicemen and women have died in what some call the “never-ending war.”

Shockingly, three presidential administrations after 9/11, we still seem unable to answer the simplest and most important questions about America’s war with the global jihadi movement: Are we winning? Can we win? What will it take to win? According to one simplistic metric, we seem to be faring well: We have not suffered an attack similar in scale to the Sept. 11 attacks here in the United States. The most severe post-9/11 attack was the Orlando massacre of 49 people by an American citizen of Afghan descent.

This may lead some to declare a partial victory. That would be a myopic conclusion. The fact is, we have seen more jihadist attacks and plots on U.S. soil in the last two years than any previous comparable period. In arrests as far apart as California and New York, we see an enemy that has moved from attempting to send foreign terrorists to America, to recruiting and indoctrinating U.S. nationals or residents already in the country, such as the Boston bombers and the San Bernardino killers. This is not an “improvement,” given that such homegrown terrorists are much harder for our domestic agencies to detect prior to an attack.

If we use a less parochial filter and look at what the jihadi movement has wrought globally since 2001, we cannot claim any kind of victory. It is not America’s job to police the world — this is especially true under the presidency of Donald Trump, who eschews the idea of the United States as “globocop” — but the fact is that global jihadism has increased, not decreased, and greatly.

ISIS may have lost the capital of its physical “caliphate” in Mosul, but the group which usurped and eclipsed Al Qaeda’s brand has more than 15 fully functional affiliates across the globe. Not only that, using simpler but deadly tactics such as vehicular attacks, ISIS has taken its “holy war” to the streets of our allies, from Paris to Berlin, Nice to Istanbul, Manchester to Brussels. Its wanton ability to do this undermines American interests and has led to the murder of Americans abroad.

The United States is the most powerful nation the world has ever seen. No longer a superpower, it is now the world’s sole “hyperpower.” How, then, can we explain the rise of ISIS and the spread of insurgent tactics onto the streets of our NATO allies? As with all significant matters, there is no one answer. However, certain policies have helped the jihadists to prosper.

First, all administrations since 2001 have focused almost exclusively on the “kinetic” aspects of counterterrorism: killing terrorists, either with invasion and occupation under President Bush, drone strikes under President Obama, or a new “strategy of annihilation” under President Trump. Killing terrorists is the right thing to do if you cannot arrest them or if your allies and partners can’t kill them. But if the dead jihadi can be easily replaced from a large and willing recruiting pool, the cycle is everlasting. As former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld asked in one of his now notorious “snowflake” memos, “Are we killing more of them than we are making?”

If we really want to win this war, which is in fact winnable, then we must stop young men and women from wanting to become jihadists. And this will not be done by killing more terrorists, given that the Al Qaeda and ISIS “incentive” narrative promises guaranteed salvation to the jihadi killed in battle. Victory in a war with adherents to a religiously fueled totalitarian ideology will only come when the message peddled by our enemy is undermined and delegitimized. This will require aggressive counter-propaganda measures, information and influence operations that leverage our Muslims allies around the world, especially those on the frontline of this war, such as Jordan and Egypt.

In the last 16 years, all U.S. administrations paid lip service to the need for a “war of ideas,” but they never engaged in a serious and strategic fashion akin to the way we did against the propaganda of our last totalitarian adversary, the Soviet Union. The Trump administration has yet to produce its national security strategy or its national counterterrorism strategy, in which a serious commitment to psychological warfare could be signaled, but the choice of a recognized expert, Ambassador Alberto Fernandez, to head the Middle East Broadcast Network of government-funded broadcast platforms is a positive indicator. Much more is, however needed, especially an indication from the White House that the West Wing cares for this issue and will coordinate and drive a counter-propaganda effort from the very highest level.

At a more operational level, after 16 years it is high time to understand where the true center of gravity is within counterterrorism in America. The focus on finding individual terrorists or cells before they execute an attack is fundamentally wrongheaded, leading as it does to a “mowing the grass” or “whack-a-mole” approach to keeping Americans safe. As the European experience (and our own) has shown us, it is almost impossible to find all the terrorists, or potential terrorists, before they initiate an attack. Instead, we must focus our attention on those who are the recruiters, indoctrinators and sanctioning authorities of jihad.

We have some amazing counterterrorism professionals working across thousands of law enforcement agencies and the federal intelligence community. But in a population of more than 300 million people, resources must be marshaled and prioritized for greatest effect. This means refocusing our attention onto individuals who may never pull a trigger or detonate an improvised explosive device but who, through their preaching and mentoring, encourage dozens or even hundreds of fellow believers to walk ever further down the path of jihad.

One such man is Ahmad Musa Jibril, who pushes the ideology of “holy war” to literally thousands of radical followers online. He is a far more valuable focus of our attention than the massive effort expended to find just one so-called “lone wolf.” In this, we will have to explore the most righteous mode for protecting our fellow citizens while protecting general First Amendment and fundamental freedom-of-conscience rights. Lastly, as we recalibrate our strategic focus to delegitimize the ideology of groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS, and target the purveyors of its heinous message at home and abroad, we need to take a step back and see the broader picture of modern jihad.

For 16 years we have been targeting the non-nation state entities headed by the likes of Osama Bin Laden and Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi. Unfortunately, their Sunni-brand of jihad is not the most dangerous version today. With the disastrous consequences of the so-called “Arab Spring,” and the precipitous decision by Obama to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq just as that nation had been stabilized, a perfect situation developed for Iran to exploit instability across the Middle East and North Africa.

Iran remains the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world today. With the rise of ISIS, the collapse of Syria, and the continued conflict in Yemen, the mullahs and the forces under their command have expanded their destabilizing actions in support of their Shia version of radical Islam. As a result, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Congress, the whole region is now victim to “a game of thrones for the crown of the caliphate.”

ISIS wanted to have the neo-caliphate be a Sunni one. The Islamic Republic of Iran has its own Shia version of the caliphate ready to expand beyond the borders of the modern Persian state, using a deadly combination of official Republican Guard Forces and proxy or irregular forces such as Hezbollah, the Shia militias of Iraq and the Quds Force.

The Trump administration’s strategy to defeat Sunni jihadism must not play into the hands of Shia jihadism. All the more so after the billions of dollars released by the last White House back into the coffers of Tehran. A nuclear caliphate informed by an apocalyptic vision of Islamic salvation will not succumb to the logic of nuclear deterrence and the prior stability of mutually assured destruction.

Action must be taken now to obviate the establishment of a nuclear-capable Shia Caliphate. Recertification of the Potemkin accord that is the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or the Iran deal, will not stop Iran acquiring nuclear weapons but, at best, delay its acquisition. Now is the time to send a message to the religious dictators in Iran that America is as determined to halt a Shia caliphate as it is a Sunni one.

President Trump is not an ideological leader. He is a pragmatist. As such he is in the best position to jettison the subjective blinders of the past that undermined our response to the deadliest terror attacks in modern history. With clear-sightedness, he and his team can end “America’s longest war.”

Sebastian Gorka, Ph.D., is the author of the New York Times bestseller, “Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War.” He most recently served as deputy assistant and strategist to President Trump. The above is adapted from his address today to the World Counter-Terrorism Summit in IsraelFollow him on Twitter @SebGorka.

Address to the World Summit on Counter Terrorism: