DEADLIEST LIE: Without ‘Lone Wolf’ Lie, U.S. Could Have Stopped Nearly EVERY ATTACK

lone-wolf-terror-attack-sized-770x415xt

PJ Media, by Andrew C. McCarthy, Sept. 21, 2016:

Some time ago, the invaluable Patrick Poole coined the term “known wolf,” sharply shredding the conventional Washington wisdom that “lone wolf” terrorism is a major domestic threat.

Pat has tracked the phenomenon for years, right up to the jihadist attacks this weekend in both the New York metropolitan area and St. Cloud, Minnesota.

Virtually every time a terror attack has occurred, the actor initially portrayed as a solo plotter lurking under the government’s radar turns out to be — after not much digging – an already known (sometimes even, notorious) Islamic extremist.

As amply demonstrated by Poole’s reporting, catalogued here by PJ Media, “lone wolves” –virtually every single one — end up having actually had extensive connections to other Islamic extremists, radical mosques, and (on not rare occasions) jihadist training facilities.

The overarching point I have been trying to make is fortified by Pat’s factual reporting. It is this: There are, and can be, no lone wolves.

The very concept is inane, and only stems from a willfully blind aversion to the ideological foundation of jihadist terror: Islamic supremacism.

The global, scripturally rooted movement to impose sharia — in the West, to incrementally supersede our culture of reason, liberty, and equality with the repressive, discriminatory norms of classical Islamic law — is a pack. The wolves are members of the pack, and that’s why they are the antithesis of “lone” actors. And, indeed, they always turn out to be “known” precisely because their association with the pack, with components of the global movement, is what ought to have alerted us to the danger they portended before they struck.

This is willful blindness, because of the restrictions we have gratuitously imposed on ourselves.

The U.S. government refuses to acknowledge the ideology that drives the movement until after some violent action is either too imminent to be ignored or, sadly more often, until after the Islamic supremacist has acted out the savagery his ideology commands.

The U.S. government consciously avoids the ideology because it is rooted in a fundamentalist, literalist interpretation of Islam. Though it is but one of many ways to construe that religion, the remorseless fact is that it is a mainstream construction, adhered to by tens of millions of Muslims and supported by centuries of scholarship.

I say “the U.S. government” is at fault here because, contrary to Republican campaign rhetoric that is apparently seized by amnesia, this is not merely an Obama administration dereliction — however much the president and his former secretary of State (and would-be successor) Hillary Clinton have exacerbated the problem.

Since the World Trade Center was bombed in 1993, the bipartisan Beltway cognoscenti have “reasoned” (a euphemism for “reckless self-delusion”) that conceding the Islamic doctrinal roots of jihadist terror — which would implicitly concede the vast Islamist (sharia-supremacist) support system without which the global jihadist onslaught would be impossible — is impractical.

But how could acknowledging the truth be impractical?

Especially given that national security hinges on an accurate assessment of threats?

Bipartisan Washington “reasons” that telling the truth would portray the United States as “at war with Islam.” To be blunt, this conventional wisdom can only be described as sheer idiocy.

We know that tens of millions of Muslims worldwide, and what appears to be a preponderance (though perhaps a diminishing one) of Muslims in the West, reject Islamic supremacism and its sharia-encroachment agenda. We know that, by a large percentage, Muslims are the most common victims of jihadist terror. We know that Muslim reformers are courageously working to undermine and reinterpret the scriptural roots of Islamic supremacism — a crucial battle our default from makes far more difficult for them to win. We know that Muslims, particularly those assimilated into the West, have been working with our law enforcement, military, and intelligence agencies for decades to gather intelligence, infiltrate jihadist cells, thwart jihadist attacks, and fight jihadist militias.

None of those Muslims — who are not only our allies, but are in fact us — believes that America is at war with Islam.

So why does Washington base crucial, life-and-death policy on nonsense?

Because it is in the thrall of the enemy. The “war on Islam” propaganda is manufactured by Islamist groups, particularly those tied to the Muslim Brotherhood.

While we resist study of our enemies’ ideology, they go to school on us. They thus grasp three key things:

(1) Washington is so bloated and dysfunctional, it will leap on any excuse to refrain from strong action;(2) the American tradition of religious liberty can be exploited to paralyze our government if national defense against a totalitarian political ideology can be framed as hostility and persecution against an entire religious faith; and

(3) because Washington has so much difficulty taking action, it welcomes claims (or, to be faddish, “narratives”) that minimize the scope and depth of the threat. Topping the “narrative” list is the fantasy that the Islamist ideological support system that nurtures jihadism (e.g., the Muslim Brotherhood and its tentacles) is better seen as a “moderate,” “non-violent” partner with whom we can work, than as what it actually is: the enemy’s most effective agent. The stealth operative that exploits the atmosphere of intimidation created by the jihadists.

In other words, in proceeding from the premise that we must do nothing to convey the notion that we are “at war with Islam” — or, in Obama-Clinton parlance, in proceeding from the premise that we need a good “narrative” rather than a truth-based strategy — we have internalized the enemy’s worldview, a view that is actually rejected by our actual Islamic allies and the vast majority of Americans.

The delusion comes into sharp relief if one listens to Hillary Clinton’s campaign bombast. Robert Spencer incisively quoted it earlier this week:

[W]e know that a lot of the rhetoric we’ve heard from Donald Trump has been seized on by terrorists, in particular ISIS, because they are looking to make this into a war against Islam, rather than a war against jihadists, violent terrorists, people who number maybe in the maybe tens of thousands, not the tens of millions, they want to use that to recruit more fighters to their cause, by turning it into a religious conflict. That’s why I’ve been very clear. We’re going after the bad guys and we’re going to get them, but we’re not going to go after an entire religion and give ISIS exactly what it’s wanting in order for them to enhance their position.

Sheer idiocy.

Our enemy is not the mere “tens of thousands” of jihadists. (She’s probably low-balling the number of jihadists worldwide, but let’s indulge her.) It is not merely ISIS, nor merely ISIS and al-Qaeda — an organization Mrs. Clinton conveniently omits mentioning, since it has replenished, thanks to Obama-Clinton governance and despite Obama-Clinton claims to have defeated it, to the point that it is now at least as much a threat as it was on the eve of 9/11.

ISIS and al-Qaeda are not the sources of the threat against us. They are theinevitable results of that threat.

The actual threat, the source, is Islamic supremacism and its sharia imposition agenda.

The support system, which the threat needs to thrive, does indeed include tens of millions of Islamists, some small percentage of whom will inexorably become violent jihadists, but the rest of whom will nurture the ideological aggression and push the radical sharia agenda — in the media, on the campus, in the courts, and in the policy councils of government that they have so successfully influenced and infiltrated.

Obviously, to acknowledge that we are at war with this movement, at war with Islamic supremacism, is not remotely to be “at war with Islam.” After all, Islamic supremacism seeks conquest over all of Islam, too, and on a much more rapid schedule than its long-term pursuit of conquest over the West. Islamic supremacism is not a fringe movement; it is large and, at the moment, a juggernaut. But too much of Islam opposes Islamic supremacism to be confused with it.

Moreover, even if being at war with Islamic supremacists could be persuasivelyspun as being “at war with Islam” — i.e., even if we were too incompetent to refute our enemies’ propaganda convincingly — it would make no difference.

The war would still be being prosecuted against us. We have to fight it against the actual enemy, and we lose if we allow enemies to dupe us into thinking they are allies. We have to act on reality, even if Washington is too tongue-tied to find the right words for describing reality.

The enemy is in our heads and has shaped our perception of the conflict, to the enemy’s great advantage. That’s how you end up with inanities like “lone wolf.”

The Mulish Stupidity of Clinton-Obama Counterterrorism

trumphillary-treasonNational Review, by ANDREW C. MCCARTHY, September 19, 2016:

As Rich notes, Hillary Clinton is essentially accusing Donald Trump of treason on the theory that his rhetoric aids and abets ISIS in recruiting Muslims because it affirms their narrative a war between Islam and non-Muslims. This is as stupid as would be a claim that Mrs. Clinton is guilty of treason – as opposed to mere idiocy – because, by refusing to acknowledge the Islamic doctrinal roots of jihadist terror, she and her policymaking cohort blind us to the motivation, objectives, and strategies of our terrorist enemies.

As I have previously recounted, when I prosecuted the Blind Sheikh’s terrorist cell in the mid-Nineties, the defense lawyers for the jihadists – who sounded just like today’s anti-anti-terrorist progressives – claimed that their clients had been lured into terrorist activity by U.S. government policy and by the enticements of a government informant who spouted Islam-against-the-world rhetoric. In response to this fatuous contention, we put a very simple question to the jury: “What would it take to turn you into a mass-murderer?” What policy could be so bad, what rhetorical us-against-them flourishes so inspiring, that a person would join the terrorist cause and commit acts of barbarism?

When a person with a modicum of common sense considers such a question, he or she knows that there could be no such policy. There is no controversial policy or figure that could cause a person to become a terrorist – not Gitmo, not harsh interrogation tactics, not Bosnia, not Abu Ghaib, not torched Korans, not anti-Muslim videos, not Donald Trump … or George Bush … or Dick Cheney … or Bill Clinton … or Pope John Paul II (the latter two of whom jihadists plotted to kill in the mid-Nineties).

Of course, all of these policies and people are exploited pretextually by jihadists in order to justify themselves and to play the West like a fiddle. But it’s all a side show. A person joins the jihad only if the person adopts jihadist ideology. A person is moved to commit mass-murder – an act that requires depraved indifference to the lives and the humanity of his targets – because there is no ideology as powerful as religious ideology, as the notion that God Himself has commanded the aggression because the infidels offend Him by their infidelity.

As I argue in today’s column, the roots of this fervor are found in Islamic scripture, which Islamic supremacists construe literally. Jihadists and their recruits care no more about Donald Trump’s bluntness (including his occasional over-the-top offensiveness, like threatening to kill the families of terrorists) than they do about Hillary Clinton’s inane, self-congratulatory nuance. In fact, regardless of which of them wins the presidency, jihadists will want to kill him or her, as they have wanted to kill all American presidents regardless of party. No matter who wins the presidency, jihadists will target America for mass-murder attacks, and will pretextually blame their actions on either Trump policies or Clinton policies, just as they blamed Bill Clinton’s, George Bush’s, and – yes – Barack Obama’s policies.

Perhaps the only thing more sadly hilarious than watching the political class tie itself in knots over whether a bomb should be called a “bomb” and whether a terrorist attack should be called a “terrorist attack” is Clinton’s claim that ISIS is rooting for Trump to be elected president. Newsflash: Jihadists don’t give a flying fatwa who wins American elections, or even whether there are American elections.

Islamic supremacists and their jihadist front lines are in the business of killing Americans and supplanting our constitutional republic with sharia. To claim that they care about our elections is to exhibit ignorance about who they are, who they think we are, and what they seek to achieve.

This is obviously news to Mrs. Clinton, but there is no point in speculating about what causes jihadist terror. As I explain in today’s column, the cause is Islamic supremacist ideology rooted in a fundamentalist, literalist construction of Islamic scripture. We know this not because I’ve figured it out and am letting you all in on the big secret. We know it because our enemies have explained themselves in the bluntest of terms.

In an essay called “The Caliphate’s Multi-pronged War” for the current (35th Anniversary) issue of The New Criterion, I described a recent edition of ISIS’s Dabiq magazine. The issue, called the “Break the Cross” edition, included a feature that should be required reading across the West. It is called, “Why We Hate You & Why We Fight You.” It asserts, among other things:

Your disbelief is the primary reason we hate you, as we have been commanded to hate the disbelievers until they submit to the authority of Islam, either by becoming Muslims, or by paying jizyah [the poll tax for dhimmis]—for those afforded this option—and living in humiliation under the rule of the Muslims.

Even if you were to stop bombing us . . . we would continue to hate you because our primary reason for hating you will not cease to exist until you embrace Islam. Even if you were to pay jizyah and live under the authority of Islam in humiliation, we would continue to hate you. No doubt, we would stop fighting you then as we would stop fighting any disbelievers who enter into a covenant with us, but we would not stop hating you.

That is what causes terrorism, and it will continue to cause terrorism until the animating ideology of Islamic supremacism has been acknowledged, confronted, and marginalized to the point that influential Islamic authorities universally teach that the call to jihad in Islamic scripture is no longer operative in the modern world. That’s got nothing to do with Donald Trump … or, for that matter, with Hillary Clinton.

WARNING: Twitter Warns Twitter World that My Post on Clinton-Obama Counterterrorism MAY BE UNSAFE!

The Response to This Weekend’s Terror Attacks Showed Willful Blindness in Real Time

New York City firemen near the site of the bombings in Chelsea, September 18, 2016. (Retuers photo: Rashid Umar Abbasi)

New York City firemen near the site of the bombings in Chelsea, September 18, 2016. (Retuers photo: Rashid Umar Abbasi)

National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, Sept. 19, 2016:

In the all too familiar pattern, things are going boom, Americans are under attack, and the American political class is already busy playing the “See No Jihad” minuet.

In a rational world, where our highest imperative would be to understand the threat that confronts us rather than to find the least offensive way of describing it, it would be patently, undeniably obvious that we are targets of international terrorism fueled by Islamic supremacist ideology. Nevertheless, the political class can only bring itself to say this kicking and screaming, and only if there is no other plausible alternative — which basically means a terrorist caught in the act while wearing an ISIS T-shirt.

That is because Islamic supremacism is a mainstream interpretation of Islam. The political class has convinced itself that uttering the plain truth would be condemning all of Islam, meaning all Muslims — notwithstanding that no one sensible claims Islamic supremacism is the only way of interpreting Islam, and, in fact, jihadist battalions kill more Muslims than non-Muslims.

Speaking forthrightly would also undermine a fiction the political class inanely believes is essential to social cohesion: The notion, oft-repeated by President Obama and Hillary Clinton, that Islam is part of the fabric of American life, as native in our history as apple pie and Judeo-Christian culture.

Islam, of course, is an alien belief system. That doesn’t make it bad per se. Our society is a melting pot and many things alien to it have blended their way in, making us more vibrant, dynamic, innovative, and successful. Clearly, though, not everything alien is benign and welcome.

Many Muslims embrace the Western culture of reason, liberty, and equality, and they flourish in our society, to which they are a real asset. Nevertheless, nothing is more alien and hostile to our society than Islamic supremacism — which, at its core, is sharia supremacism. Its adherents resist assimilation and seek to impose a totalitarian system that suppresses liberty and is systematically discriminatory against non-Muslims, women, apostates from Islam, homosexuals, and other groups.

Because we are trapped in a politically correct fantasy world in which terrorism has nothing to do with Islam and Islam is innately American, the political class can never admit that obvious jihadist attacks — such as those that just occurred in New York, New Jersey, and Minnesota — are international terrorism. Indeed, we are in a state of such self-parody that, this weekend, it somehow became “intemperate” and “un-presidential” to conclude that attempts (some successful) to detonate IEDs — as in, improvised explosive devices, a.k.a. bombs — were in fact bombings.

The playbook has become so tired. Nothing can be considered terrorism, even a mass-casualty attack with the objective of intimidating a civilian population or government (the legal definition of terrorism) unless and until there is convincing evidence connecting it to a known terrorist organization — usually ISIS or al-Qaeda. It is acceptable, you see, to label as “terrorism” an attack connected to these organizations because the political class has pronounced them as non-Islamic (even anti-Islamic), since they do not adhere to the imaginary, relentlessly benign Islam that the political class has dreamt up and designated as the one and only “true” Islam.

Thus, when a terrorist attack happens, the first thing we must do is worry about evil, divisive haters (we know who we are) who dare presume to call it a “terrorist attack.” After all, they could stoke a “blowback” — i.e., “hate crimes” against Muslims, committed mainly by the white racists with which America teems.

This reaction stems from the political class’s designated representatives of the Islamic community in the United States. These are Islamist-activist groups, mostly sprung from the Muslim Brotherhood — CAIR being the most notorious. In point of fact, said groups are not representative of most Muslims in the West. In reality, they are hostile to pro-American Muslims, especially those who oppose sharia encroachment and favor a peaceful solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict in which Israel’s right to exist is acknowledged.

Still, the Islamists, aside from being well funded by overseas sources, are loudest and leftist. Therefore, they are the ones who receive the political class’s sympathetic attention. Indeed, over the last two decades (and particularly in the Obama years), they have become government consultants who instruct policymakers on how to think about, and talk about, terrorism.

Here is reality: The enemy that unifies the terrorist siege against the U.S., Israel, and the West is Islamic supremacist ideology, which aims to bring the world under sharia dominion. This ideology is far more important than ISIS and al-Qaeda because it is what created ISIS and al-Qaeda. It was the catalyst before those jihadist organizations existed, and it will be around when they are gone — for as long as we fail to take it on without apology and discredit it in the light of day.

The attacks spurred by this ideology, like those carried out this weekend, are international terrorist attacks, regardless of whether the operatives who execute them are affiliated with or inspired by a designated international terrorist organization. There are no “homegrown” attacks because the ideology is alien. There are no “lone wolves” because the wolves are part of a huge pack — a fundamentalist Islamic anti-Western movement that has millions of adherents, some percentage of which will always be willing to take up arms and kill for the cause.

Pro-American Muslims need us to help them discredit the fundamentalists. We cannot do this without openly acknowledging — as, for example, Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has courageously done — that the roots of jihadist aggression are Muslim scriptures. This must not be obscured by political correctness. The scriptures in question must be acknowledged and reinterpreted in a manner that confines them to their historic context and nullifies a literal interpretation of them in modern life.

If we don’t confront the animating ideology and its stealth supporters with every bit as much energy as our police pursue the murderous jihadists, we lose. Winning begins with cashiering political correctness, with speaking openly about, and understanding, what we are up against.

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

Obama’s Cash-for-Jihad Program

(Dreamstime image: Dmitry Rukhlenko)

(Dreamstime image: Dmitry Rukhlenko)

National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, Sept. 17, 2016:

The Obama State Department is convinced that Syrian dictator Bashar Assad and his regime’s cronies are financing terrorism. How come? Well, because they conduct business in cash.

In fact, in its most recent annual report on state sponsors of terrorism, State frets “that 60 percent of all business transactions [in Syria] are conducted in cash and that nearly 80 percent of all Syrians do not use formal banking services.” This has created a “vast black market,” the components of which are exploited by “some members of the Syrian government and the business elite . . . in terrorism finance schemes.”

Interesting thing about that: There are only three countries on the list of state sponsors of terrorism — Syria, Sudan, and Iran. That last one is worth highlighting. Iran, after all, is not just the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism; it is also the world’s leading state sponsor of . . . Syria — providing it with lots of that cash the State Department is so concerned about.

Oh, I nearly forgot: Iran also happens to be the jihadist regime that President Obama just gave $1.7 billion to . . . in cash.

Or should I say, at least $1.7 billion.

It is hard to decide what is the most appalling thing about Obama’s $1.7 billion payoff to the mullahs: the ransom for the release of American hostages, which has predictably induced Tehran to take more hostages; the pallets of untraceable currency loaded on multiple planes of the national airline regularly used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to arm Assad and facilitate terror; the withdrawals from a shadowy Treasury Department fund structured in a manner designed to conceal that money was being transferred to Iran. The transaction is so shocking, one can easily forget that it is just the latest in a long series of payoffs.

The payoffs were made in Obama’s pursuit of legacy adornment — the nuclear deal with Iran he coveted at any cost. Beginning in January 2014 and continuing for a year and a half — the period during which the president was quietly folding at the negotiation table on every bold campaign-trail vow to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons — the administration released $700 million per month in escrowed oil funds to the jihadist regime.

In congressional testimony last week, Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) did the math: That’s $11.9 billion. But that, literally, may not be the half of it. In July, U.S. government officials told the Associated Press that Iran had repatriated a sum approaching $20 billion in the half-year following implementation of the nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA).

Is that $20 billion from the JCPOA in addition to the pre-JCPOA $11.9 billion in oil revenues? Is it in addition to the $1.7 billion “settlement of a failed 1970s arms deal” (a.k.a. the ransom for American hostages)? The “most transparent administration in history” is not saying. But as Dubowitz runs the numbers, the “worst-case scenario” is that Iran has gotten its mitts on $33.6 billion — and “worst” assumes that we know about every shady backroom deal, which seems unlikely.

That staggering figure would amount to about 8 percent of Iran’s entire annual GDP. Whatever the true amount is, were the billions transferred in cash?

Remember, when the news first broke of the $400 million cash payment on the same day our hostages were released, the president looked us in the eye and told us he had to pay the mullahs that way — he couldn’t wire the funds or send a check because, owing to his professed respect for sanctions in American law, there is no banking relationship between the U.S. and Iran. As I explained at the time, this was simply false: The cash transfer violated the sanctions every bit as much as a check or wire transfer would have. Plus, the sanctions allow for presidential waivers, so Obama could easily have wired the money. He sent cash only because he chose to send cash.

So if the administration loaded up planes with $1.7 billion in foreign currency for the settlement/ransom, was a similar method used in connection with the $11.9 billion in escrowed oil funds? How about the $20 billion in JCPOA sanctions relief? Again, the administration won’t say — apparently relying on a nonexistent privilege of confidentiality in international relations to justify withholding such information from Congress and the public.

One sadly hilarious aspect of this spectacle is the administration’s tortured claims about Iran’s use of its Obama windfalls. The White House and State Department grudgingly admit that they cannot know for certain how much Iran has diverted to the terrorist activities that the administration even more grudgingly admits Iran continues to underwrite. But rest assured, Obama strongly suspects that very little money makes its way to the jihad, since Tehran must prioritize paying down crushing debt and repairing crumbling infrastructure.

How ridiculous. It is pointless to track how particular dollar streams are spent by a terrorist regime. Iran had crushing debt and crumbling infrastructure before Obama started lining its pockets; yet it was committed to exporting revolutionary jihad, so it spent its sparse resources on terrorism anyway. Consequently, if the new dollars Iran is reeling in are ostensibly spent on infrastructure or debt, the dollars that would otherwise have been spent on those activities are freed up for terrorist activity.

The logic is unassailable: Because money is fungible, not a thin dime can safely be given to an entity that supports terrorism. In the case of Iran, however, we need not rely on logical deduction; we know Iran is channeling funds to the jihad. As the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Saeed Ghasseminejad reports, the Iranian regime requires the transfer to its military of funds it receives from settling legal disputes with foreign countries and companies. That means, for example, that the $1.7 billion settlement that Obama paid when the hostages were released has gone to the IRGC.

That brings us back full-circle to the State Department’s annual report on state sponsors of terrorism. As the report explains, the IRGC, through its notorious Qods Force, “is Iran’s primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorists abroad.”

To summarize: The Obama administration explains that when a terrorist regime like Syria prefers to conduct business in cash, that markedly increases the likelihood that its funds will be used to finance terrorism. Concurrently, Obama is providing exorbitant sums to Iran, the world’s worst terrorist regime, and going out of his way to transfer it in the form of cash. And under the Iranian regime’s dictates, a goodly portion of that cash is going directly to the component of the Iranian government that oversees its prodigious international terrorism operations.

Not to worry, though — it’s not like they’re threatening our naval vessels, humiliating our sailors, massing Hezbollah forces on Israel’s border, or chanting “Death to America,” right?

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

***

Obama Is Right to Veto Bill Enabling Suits against the Saudis

President Obama with Saudi King Salman in Riyadh, April 20, 2016. (Reuters photo: Kevin Lamarque)

President Obama with Saudi King Salman in Riyadh, April 20, 2016. (Reuters photo: Kevin Lamarque)

Relations between governments are best handled through diplomacy, not legal proceedings.

National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, September 14, 2016

Why, when the Republican-controlled Congress is finally willing to fight President Obama to the point of forcing and potentially overriding a veto, do they pick an issue on which Obama is right?

In a grandstanding exhibition, Congress has enacted legislation that would enable private litigants — the most sympathetic imaginable, the families of 9/11 victims — to sue the government of Saudi Arabia. Obviously, even if it is sued successfully, the Saudi government is never actually going to pay any judgments. More to the point, legislation of this kind will spur other countries to enact laws allowing their citizens to sue the United States — and maybe even criminal laws allowing the arrest of current and former American government officials (including military personnel) — for actions taken in defense of our country and pursuit of our interests.

Since we have interests throughout the world and a military that acts globally (and lethally), our nation has far more to lose than most nations by playing this game. Consequently, while I get the populist zeitgeist, it is disappointing to see people who ought to know better claiming that a veto would represent Obama’s prioritizing of Saudi interests over American interests. It would do nothing of the sort.

Moreover, the fervor for this legislation is indeed ironic for Republicans who complain — quite justifiably — that Obama regards international terrorism as a law-enforcement matter to be pursued in the courts. The judiciary is no more proper a forum for conducting diplomacy than it is for dealing with a national-security challenge.

Relations between the United States and any other sovereign, including the Saudi regime, ought to be managed by the political branches — in particular, the executive — in whom the Constitution vests responsibility. They should not be subject to litigation overseen by politically unaccountable courts. Legal cases can be unpredictable due to the differences in the predispositions and skill levels of the individual judges and litigators. That is not a problem in the vast run of private lawsuits, since the appellate process sorts out most errors. But it can be a huge problem in international relations, on which hinge alliances and intelligence-gathering arrangements on which our security depends.

That, of course, is why countries mutually grant their officials diplomatic immunity, which bars prosecution of even serious crimes committed by diplomatic personnel. It is why a country’s diplomatic installations are considered its sovereign territory even on foreign soil — such that violating them — as, for example, Iran did to our embassy in 1979 — is an act of war. These norms often work injustices in individual cases, but it is imperative that we preserve them.

To be clear, I have no sympathy for the Obama administration’s concerns about enraging the Saudi regime. We should be enraging them. I doubt if anyone was more vigorous than I in arguing that there should be full disclosure of the Saudi role in the 9/11 attacks — including the publication of previously sealed pages from a congressional report. The United States should stop pretending that the Saudis are a reliable counterterrorism ally. We should be exposing and condemning the regime’s enforcement of barbaric sharia corporal penalties, as well as sharia’s systematic discrimination against women, apostates, non-Muslims, Muslim minorities, and homosexuals.

As I’ve previously argued, there is also no reason why the Obama administration could not negotiate with the Saudis in an effort to create a fund to compensate 9/11 victims. The Saudis would of course be resistant, but we have cards to play in such a negotiation. Plus, the Saudis might well prefer to appear magnanimous in contributing to a fund than suffer the indignity of being found culpable for 9/11 in legal proceedings. It may not work, but it is worth trying.

Furthermore, there is no restriction, and should be none, on civil lawsuits against individual Saudi citizens and entities that are complicit in terrorism, including the 9/11 attacks. We should be more aggressive in prosecuting Saudi entities, including “charities,” that provide material support to terrorism — an imperative President Obama has slackened on in the name of appeasing Islamists.

Nevertheless, a foreign government is not like a private litigant, and has historically not been treated as such. Real security depends on maintaining the international system of sovereign states that respect each other’s sovereignty. It is the transnational progressives who envision a post-sovereign world in which unelected judges and international organizations call the tune, undermining the prerogatives of nationhood and democratic self-determination. (See, e.g., my review in The New Criterion of Justice Stephen Breyer’s The Court and the World.) Why would Republicans want to contribute to that effort?

Obviously, the bipartisan legislation is popular: We would all like to see the 9/11 families made as whole as possible (though their losses can never really be fully compensated). And we’d like to see the Saudis get their well-deserved comeuppance as a leading sponsor of jihadist terror.

A great deal of long-term damage, though, can be done by something that, however fleetingly popular, sets a terrible precedent. This is a wrong-headed bill, and President Obama is right to veto it.

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

Yes, Congress Has the Power to Impeach Hillary Clinton

impeach-hillary-clinton-congress-has-powerNational Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy — September 6, 2016

For months, I have been arguing that Hillary Clinton should be impeached. It is all well and good to prosecute a former government official for any crimes she has committed. Indeed, the Constitution expressly provides for criminal prosecution in addition to impeachment. Nevertheless, for the Framers — and, if we had common sense, for us — the imperative was to deprive a corrupt person of any further opportunity to abuse government power. Whether the official should also be convicted and sent to prison was not unimportant but, in the greater scheme of things, decidedly secondary.

Interestingly, the main pushback I received upon positing this argument was not that Mrs. Clinton is undeserving of impeachment. That, of course, is a measure of the seriousness of her high crimes and misdemeanors: the e-mail scandal; the reckless mishandling of classified information that has surely exposed our national-defense secrets to hostile powers; the mass destruction of thousands of government records after Congress asked for them; the obstruction of government investigations; the serial lies to Congress and the public; the shocking failure to provide security for Americans stationed in Benghazi and the failure to attempt to rescue them during a terrorist siege; the lies to the American people and to the families of murdered American officials about the cause of the attack; the trumping up of a prosecution against the video producer scapegoated for the Benghazi attack; the Clinton Foundation corruption involving the sale of influence for donations, the favors done for shady benefactors at the expense of national security, and the use of the State Department as an arm of the Clinton pay-to-play enterprise.

No, the main objection to impeachment is the claim that, because the former secretary of state does not currently hold public office, there is nothing from which to remove her. Hence, as a non-incumbent who merely seeks the nation’s highest office — after proving herself manifestly unfit in a subordinate office — she is said to be immune from impeachment. How could she be impeached from the presidency, the question is posed, if she is not president? How could she be removed from an office she does not hold based on offenses not committed while wielding presidential power?

These questions and the non-incumbency theory behind them fundamentally misconstrue the constitutional remedy of impeachment, which is not limited to removal from power but includes disqualification from future office. Moreover, their premise is wrong: The proceeding against Clinton would not be a presidential impeachment; it would be an impeachment based on her abuses of power as secretary of state, which would have the constitutional effect of disqualifying her for the presidency.

The Constitution does not limit impeachment to incumbent officials. Article I endows the House of Representatives with the “sole Power of Impeachment” — i.e., the power to file articles of impeachment. It further empowers the Senate with “the sole Power to try all Impeachments.” Significantly, in prescribing the standard for conviction in the Senate, Article I, Section 3 states that “no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two-thirds of the Members present” (emphasis added).

Note carefully: The Constitution does not say the impeached person must be a current officeholder. As we shall see, that makes perfect sense: The point of impeachment is to deny power to any person — not necessarily an incumbent official — whose high crimes and misdemeanors have demonstrated unfitness for a high public trust.

Read more

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

Also see:

Multiple Outrages in Clinton-Obama Benghazi Obstruction

obama-hillary-benghazi-casketsNational Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, Aug. 30, 2016:

As Ian reports, it has now come to light that Hillary Clinton attempted to destroy about 30 emails related to the 2012 Benghazi massacre. They were recovered by the FBI, notwithstanding the use by Mrs. “Like With a Cloth or Something” of an advanced software program – “BleachBit” – in a willful effort to erase the contents of her servers so thoroughly that no one would be able to recover her emails (many of which were government records, which it is a felony to hoard and destroy).

Obviously, these emails were kept from the congressional committees that investigated the Benghazi massacre. Mrs. Clinton was also clearly trying to shield them from discovery by defense lawyers in the prosecution of the lone terrorist the Obama administration has thus far charged (in connection with an attack that involved scores ofjihadists whom Obama promised to “bring to justice”).

The depth of Mrs. Clinton’s misconduct regarding the unlawful e-mail system and the obstruction of investigations into a terrorist attack in which four Americans were killed is breathtaking – as is the media’s indifference to it. As I’ve repeatedly argued, Clinton ought to be impeached. How much more contempt for Congress does she need to exhibit before some dim memory of self-respect moves lawmakers to take some action?

Nearly as reprehensible, however, is the Obama administration at large. Evidently, it has just today gotten around to telling a United States court that these 30 emails have never been disclosed, even though they have been sought for years, the Justice Department has known the FBI had them for months, and the State Department, too, has to have known they were in the possession of the administration as it litigated Freedom of Information Act claims yet said nothing.

Just as astounding: In making their grudging disclosure today, administration lawyers claimed that they needed another month (until the end of September) to review the emails so that classified information could be redacted before they are disclosed.

Mind you: Mrs. Clinton told us there were no government-business related emails on her servers and certainly no classified information. It turned out there were tens of thousands of government-related emails, with thousands containing classified information. Clinton lawlessly withheld these emails for years, and the executive branch has known about them for months. Indeed, the FBI director told Congress and the public that the FBI went through a painstaking process with intelligence agencies to determine which of the recovered emails had classified information in them. And yet, despite all that, the State Department has the audacity to tell a federal judge that it needs another 30 days to review less than three dozen emails?

Seriously?

When I was a federal prosecutor, neither I nor any of the government lawyers I worked with would have had the nerve to look a federal judge in the eye and make such a mind-blowing request. We’d have been too worried about what we’d say when the judge inevitably asked, “Why am I just hearing about this now?” – and ordered us to produce affidavits from every government official potentially involved in the delay while all these investigations and FOIA requests regarding Benghazi were underway.

The judge, in this instance, is Amit P. Mehta. Judge Mehta has stellar academic qualifications. But he is also a 45-year-old Obama appointee who has been on the bench for less than two years. This is a political case, and the most politicized administration in history has just essentially asked a judge to play ball. So far, Mehta is putting up some resistance, telling the administration it has a week to explain why the review and disclosure of so few emails should take so long. But let’s be real: A week is considerably more time than he should have given the administration to produce the long overdue emails, not to rationalize why more time is needed to produce them.

Does anybody care how outrageous this is?

Also see:

Of Course There Should Be an Ideological Test in Immigration

immigration-ideological-test-islamists-can-be-denied-admission-b

National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, Aug. 20, 2016:

Imagine an American government official, interviewing an alien seeking admission to our country from, say, Syria:

U.S. official: “Will you support the United States Constitution?”

Syrian alien: “Well, sure, except that I believe the government should be overseen by a caliph, who must be Muslim and male, and who must rule in accordance with Islamic law, which no man-made law may contradict. None of this ‘We the People’ stuff; Allah is the sovereign. Non-Muslims should not be required to convert to Islam, of course, but they must submit to the authority of Islamic law — which requires them to live in the second-class status of dhimmitude and to pay a poll tax for that privilege.”

“I also believe women must be subservient to men, and that men are permitted to beat their wives if they are disobedient — especially if they refuse sex, in which they must engage on demand. There is no such thing as marital rape, and proving non-marital rape requires testimony from four male witnesses. Outside the home, a woman should cover herself in drab from head to toe. A woman’s testimony in court should be worth only half of a man’s, and her inheritance rights similarly discounted. Men should be able to marry up to four women — women, however, are limited to marrying one man.”

“Oh, and Muslims who renounce Islam should be put to death . . . as should homosexuals . . . and blasphemers . . . and adulterers — at least the ones we don’t let off with a mere scourging. The penalty for theft should be amputation of the right hand (for highway robbery, the left foot is also amputated); and for drinking alcohol, the offender is to be scourged with 40 stripes.”

“There are a few other odds and ends — you know, jihad and whatnot. But other than that, will I support the Constitution? Sure thing.”

U.S. official: “Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on a second. That’s not supporting the Constitution. That would be destroying the Constitution.”

Syrian alien: “Yeah, maybe so. But it’s my religion.”

U.S. official: “Oh, your religion. Why didn’t you say so? I thought you were spouting some anti-American political ideology. But as long as you say it’s your religion, no problem. C’mon in!”

This conversation is impossible to imagine because . . . it would be honest. In the decades-long onslaught of radical Islam against the United States, honesty went out with the benighted notions that we should “know thine enemy” and, God forbid, train our national-security agents in that enemy’s ideology, methods, and objectives.

In our alternative universe, you are not supposed to remember that there is an American constitutional framework of liberty, popular sovereignty, and equality before the law.

You are not supposed to realize that aliens are expected to exhibit fidelity to this constitutional framework as a precondition to joining our society.

You are not supposed to know that there is an Islamic law, sharia, that has far more to do with governance, economics, warfare, civil rights, domestic relations, criminal prosecution, and fashion than it does with spiritual life.

And you are absolutely not supposed to grasp that sharia is antithetical to the Constitution, to the very foundational American principle that the people may make law for themselves, live as they see fit, and chart their own destiny.

You are not supposed to connect the dots and ask, “Well, how is it conceivable that any sharia-adherent alien could faithfully pledge allegiance to our Constitution?”

So, instead, we shrug our shoulders, mumble something about “freedom of religion,” and bury our heads back in the sand — as if the structure of government and the decision of which limb to smite for which larceny had anything to do with religion in a free society that rejects the establishment of any state religion and separates spiritual from political life.

Sharia is not religion. Sharia is a totalitarian societal structure and legal corpus that anti-American radicals seek to impose. Yes, their motivation for doing so is their interpretation of their religion — the fundamentalist, literalist construction of Islam. But that does not make sharia itself a matter of “religion” in the Western sense, even if vast numbers of Arab Muslims — for whom there is no cognizable separation of mosque and state — say otherwise. If Karl Marx had said, “The workers must control the means of production because God says so,” that would not have transmogrified the tyranny of Communism into the “freedom of religion.”

Two things flow from this.

The first involves immigration. As we’ve previously demonstrated, there is no constitutional prohibition against considering religion in deciding which aliens to allow into the United States — immigration is a privilege, not a right; and our Constitution is security for Americans, not a weapon for aliens to use against Americans.

Nevertheless, even if there were a constitutional bar against “religious tests,” sharia is not religion. There are no constitutional constraints against excluding aliens on grounds of anti-American political ideology. Excluding anti-Americans from America is common sense and was regarded as such for much of our history. In a time of radical Islamic threat to our national security, Donald Trump is right to propose that aliens from sharia-supremacist areas be carefully vetted for adherence to anti-constitutional principles.

Leftists — those notorious disciples of the Framers — claim this is unconstitutional. When shown it is not, they claim that it is against our “tradition” — being, you know, big fans of American tradition. When shown that this is not the case either, when shown that our history supports ideological exclusion of anti-Americans, leftists are down to claiming, “It is not who we are” — by which they always mean it is not who they are, and who they would force the rest of us to be.

A short lesson in how we got to be who “we” are. In the last decades of the Cold War, it became progressive dogma that the Soviet Union was forever, that it was an empire we could do business with, arrive at a modus vivendi with. The real evil, the Left decided, were the anti-Communists — it was their provocations against the Soviets, not the Soviets themselves, that could trigger Armageddon. Therefore, they reckoned, we needed to do away with all this overheated nonsense about how Communists seek the violent overthrow of the United States. That, to the Left, was just a bunch of ideological mumbo-jumbo that nobody ever really took seriously (even if Bill Ayers hadn’t gotten the memo).

One major consequence of this conventional wisdom was the campaign waged by leading Democrats to eliminate radical ideology as a basis for excluding aliens. They championed laws decreeing that “mere” radical ideology, in the absence of some provable connection to violent action, should not bar radicals from entering our country. Thus, the “principle” that America must not vet would-be immigrants for anti-Americanism is not derived from the U.S. Constitution, from our traditions, or from who “we” supposedly are. It stems from the Left’s conviction that Communist ideology was not a real threat to America.

Then, about 14 months after the Soviet Union collapsed, jihadists bombed the World Trade Center. They have been attacking us ever since. See, however you come out on the question of whether Communists really posed a violent threat to our national security, there cannot be such a question with respect to radical Islam. The front line of that movement is the mass murderers, not the professors. With radical Islam, the threat of violence is not an abstract academic proposition. It is our reality.

What’s more, we know from hard experience, and from observing Europe’s new reality, that the threat is not just the jihadists. Equally important are the sharia-supremacist ideologues who seek to forge autonomous enclaves where sharia becomes the de facto law, and where jihadist radicalization, recruitment, fundraising, and training have safe haven. Our legitimate worries are not limited to the trained jihadist who infiltrates today; they include the sharia supremacist who will get his hooks into young Muslims and turn them into the trained jihadists of tomorrow.

The second thing to consider is Islam. As Robert R. Reilly unfolded in his essential book, The Closing of the Muslim Mind, there is an Islamic tradition of rational inquiry, deeply influenced by Greek philosophy, that has been overwhelmed for nearly a millennium by the fundamentalist tradition. The rationalists may be out-muscled, but they are not dormant. They are Muslims who embrace Western culture, reject the imposition of antiquated sharia as a system of law and governance, and challenge the premises and the aggression of the fundamentalists. They are Muslims who, I can attest, help us infiltrate terror cells and prevent attacks. They are Muslims who fight in our armed forces, work in our intelligence services, serve in our police departments, and thrive in our economy.

We do not have to exaggerate their numbers to recognize that these Muslims exist and that they are our allies — that they are part of us. To appreciate their value and their contributions to our society, we do not need to pretend that they typify Islam as it is lived in Syria, Saudi Arabia, or the no-go zones of Paris.

If we want to win the crucial ideological component of radical Islam’s war against us, we should be empowering these pro-Western Muslims rather than inviting the sharia-supremacist Muslim Brotherhood into our policy-making councils. Like protecting our nation, empowering pro-Western Muslims requires an immigration system that welcomes those who will support our Constitution, and turns away those who would sweep it aside.

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

Also see:

McCarthy: Obama’s Iraq Policy Did Not Create ISIS

isis militants in RaqqaOur challenge in the Middle East is that sharia supremacism fills all vacuums.

National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, Au. 13, 2016:

The early Cold War wisdom that “we must stop politics at the water’s edge” has never been entirely true. In endeavors as human as politics, no such altruistic aspiration ever will be. But Senator Arthur Vandenberg’s adage does reflect a principle critical to effective national security: The United States is imperiled when partisan politics distorts our understanding of the world and the threats it presents.

We’ve been imperiled for a long time now. The most salient reason for that has been the bipartisan, politically correct refusal to acknowledge and confront the Islamic roots of the threat to the West. It has prevented us from grasping not only why jihadists attack us but also that jihadists are merely the militant front line of the broader civilizational challenge posed by sharia supremacism.

Inevitably, when there is a profound threat and an overarching strategic failure to apprehend it, disasters abound; and rather than becoming occasions for reassessment of the flawed bipartisan strategy, those disasters become grist for partisan attacks. From 2004 through 2008, the specious claim was that President Bush’s ouster of Saddam Hussein created terrorism in Iraq. Now it is that President Obama is the “founder of ISIS,” as Donald Trump put it this week.

The point here is not to bash Trump. He is hardly the first to posit some variation of the storyline that Obama’s premature withdrawal of American forces from Iraq led to the “vacuum” in which, we are to believe, the Islamic State spontaneously generated. Indeed, this narrative is repeated on Fox News every ten minutes or so.

The point is to try to understand what we are actually dealing with, how we got to this place, and what the security implications are. There is no denying that American missteps have exacerbated a dangerous threat environment in the Middle East to some degree. It is spurious, though, to suggest that any of these errors, or all of them collectively, caused the catastrophe that has unfolded.

The problem for the United States in this region is Islam — specifically, the revolutionary sharia-supremacist version to which the major players adhere. There is no vacuum. There never has been a vacuum. What we have is a bubbling cauldron of aggressive political Islam with its always attendant jihadist legions.

The question is always: How to contain the innate aggression? The fantasy answers are: (a) let’s convert them to Western democracy, and (b) let’s support the secular democrats. In reality, the region does not want Western democracy — it wants sharia (Islamic law), even if there is disagreement about how much sharia and how quickly it should be imposed. And while there are some secular democrats, there are far, far too few of them to compete with either the sharia-supremacist factions or the dictatorial regimes — they can only fight the latter by aligning with the former. At best, the secularists provide hope for an eventual evolution away from totalitarian sharia culture; for now, however, it is absurd for Beltway Republicans to contend that ISIS emerged because Obama failed to back these “moderates” in Iraq and Syria.

The fact that top Republicans use the term “moderate” rather than “secular democrat” should tell us all we need to know. They realize there are not enough secularists to fight either Bashar Assad or ISIS, much less both of them. For all their justifiable ridiculing of Obama’s lexicon, Republicans invoke “moderates” for the same reason Obama uses terms like “workplace violence” — to obscure unpleasant truths about radical Islam. In this instance, the truth is that the “moderates” they claim Obama should have backed include the Muslim Brotherhood and other anti-Western Islamist factions, including al-Qaeda. Of course, if they told you that, there wouldn’t be much bite in their critique of Obama’s infatuation with the Muslim Brotherhood . . . and you might even start remembering that, during the Bush years, the GOP couldn’t do enough “outreach” to “moderate Islamists.”

The Middle East is aflame because of sharia supremacism and the jihadism that ideology always produces. That was the problem long before there was an ISIS. The Baathist regimes in Iraq and Syria, like other Middle Eastern dictatorships, kept sharia supremacism in check by alternatively persecuting Islamist insurgents, turning them against each other, or using them to harass Israel and the West. In Iran, to the contrary, the shah was overthrown by a revolutionary Shiite jihadist movement that he failed to keep in check.

Bush, with what started out as bipartisan support, ousted the Iraqi regime without any discernible plan for dealing with Iran, Syria, and the wider war — delusionally calculating that Iran might actually be helpful because of its supposedly keen interest in Iraqi stability. Iran, of course, went about the business of fueling the terrorist insurgency against American troops. Saddam’s fall unleashed the competing Islamist forces that continue to tear Iraq apart. The thought that we could democratize the culture was fantasy; far from taming sharia supremacism, the government we birthed in Baghdad was converted by the Iran-backed Shiite parties into a mechanism for abusing Sunnis. Naturally, the Sunnis turned to their own sharia supremacists for their defense.

It is fair enough to argue that Obama should not have pulled U.S. forces out of Iraq just as the security situation was badly deteriorating in 2011. But a big part of the reason that Democrats thrashed Republicans in the 2006 midterms, and that Obama was elected in 2008, was mounting American opposition to maintaining our troops there. Critics, moreover, conveniently omit to mention that (a) the agreement with the Iraqi government to withdraw our troops on a timeline unrelated to conditions on the ground was made by Bush, not Obama, and that (b) Bush reluctantly made that agreement precisely because Iraqis were demanding that Americans get out of their country.

The war became unpopular in the United States because it seemed unconnected to U.S. security interests: so much sacrifice on behalf of ingrates, while Iran exploited the mayhem to muscle in. There was no public appetite for a long-range U.S. military presence. What would be the point, when Bush had given the increasingly hostile Iraqi government the power to veto U.S. military operations to which it objected, and had agreed that our forces would not use Iraqi territory as a base of operations against Iran, Syria, or any other country? (See 2008 Status of Forces Agreement, articles 4 and 27.) This was not post-war Europe or Japan, where the enemy had been vanquished. Most Americans did not see the point of further risking American lives in order to stop anti-American Shiites and anti-American Sunnis from having at each other, as they’ve been doing to great lethal effect for 14 centuries.

ISIS (now, the Islamic State) got its start as al-Qaeda in Iraq, the primary culprit (along with Iran) in the Iraqi civil war. ISIS thus long predates Obama’s presidency. Furthermore, the oft-repeated GOP talking-point that al-Qaeda in Iraq was defeated by the Bush troop surge is a gross exaggeration. Our jihadist enemies could not be defeated in Iraq, because Iraq was never their sole base of operations. Since we’ve never had a strategy to defeat them globally, we were never going to do more than temporarily tamp them down in Iraq. They were always going to wait us out. They were always going to reemerge, in Iraq and elsewhere.

One of the places in which they regrouped was Syria. That made perfect sense, because Syria — the client of al-Qaeda’s long-time supporter, Iran — was always a waystation for jihadists seeking to fight American and Western forces in Iraq. Meanwhile, there was an internal Syrian uprising against the Assad regime. To be sure, the revolt had some secular components; but it was thoroughly coopted by the Muslim Brotherhood (as analyst Hassan Hassan comprehensively outlined in Foreign Affairs in early 2013).

Notwithstanding the Republicans’ ISIS myopia, it was not the only jihadist presence in Syria — not even close. Al-Qaeda still had a franchise there (al-Nusrah), along with several other tentacles. Importantly, in its rivalry with breakaway ISIS, al-Qaeda has adopted the Muslim Brotherhood approach of ground-up revolution — the antithesis of the Islamic State’s top-down strategy of forcibly expanding its declared caliphate and implementing sharia full-scale.

As Tom Joscelyn perceptively explained in 2015 congressional testimony, al-Qaeda is attempting to spark jihadist uprisings in Muslim-majority countries while appealing to local populations with fundamentalist education initiatives. Like the Brotherhood, al-Qaeda leaders now preach a gradualist implementation of sharia, which is more appealing to most Middle Eastern Muslims than ISIS’s inflexibility and emphasis on sharia’s barbaric hudud penalties (mutilation, stoning, scourging, etc.). Understand: Al-Qaeda is just as anti-American as it has ever been. In Syria, however, its shrewd approach has enabled the network to insinuate itself deeply into the forces that oppose both Assad and ISIS. So has the Brotherhood.

These forces are the “moderates” that Republicans, apparently including Trump, claim Obama failed to support, creating the purported “vacuum” out of which ISIS emerged. The charge is doubly specious because Obama actually did provide these “moderates” with plenty of support. The GOP rap on Obama is that he failed to jump with both feet into the Syria civil war and take the side of “moderates.” But jumping in with both feet, at the urging of Beltway Republicans, is exactly what Obama did on behalf of the “moderates” in Libya. How’d that work out?

Our challenge in the Middle East is that sharia supremacism fills all vacuums. It was this ideology that created ISIS long before President Obama came along. And if ISIS were to disappear tomorrow, sharia supremacism would still be our challenge. It is critical to be an effective political opposition to the Obama Left. But being effective means not letting the political part warp our judgment, especially where national security is concerned.

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

Here is another good opposing view:

Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi Debacle: Arming Jihadists in Libya . . . and Syria

hillary-clinton-benghazi-scandal-arm-syrian-rebels-isis_0National Review, By Andrew C. McCarthy — August 2, 2016

As U.S. armed forces attack ISIS in Libya, WikiLeaks is poised to remind us that ISIS is in Libya — indeed, that ISIS is ISIS — thanks to disastrous policies championed by Hillary Clinton as President Obama’s secretary of state. Also raised, yet again, is the specter of Mrs. Clinton’s lying to Congress and the American people — this time regarding a matter some of us have been trying for years to get answers about: What mission was so important the United States kept personnel in the jihadist hellhole of Benghazi in 2012?

Specifically, did that mission involve arming the Syrian “rebels” — including al-Qaeda and forces that became ISIS — just as, at Mrs. Clinton’s urging, our government had armed Libyan “rebels” (again, jihadists) to catastrophic effect?

It has been less than two weeks since WikiLeaks rocked the Clinton campaign on the eve of the Democratic convention by leaking hacked e-mails illuminating DNC efforts to rig the nomination chase in Clinton’s favor. Now the organization’s founder, Julian Assange, has announced that WikiLeaks is soon to publish highly sensitive government e-mails that demonstrate Hillary Clinton’s key participation in efforts to arm jihadists in Syria. Just as in Libya, where Mrs. Clinton championed the strategy of arming Islamist “rebels,” the Syrian “rebels” who ultimately received weapons included the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda, and ISIS.

The Daily Wire and other outlets are reporting on Assange’s comments, published by Democracy Now. Clearly, we should not take Assange’s word for what is to be gleaned from the hacked records, which he says include some 17,000 e-mails “about Libya alone.” Let’s see if he has what he says he has. But it is worth setting the stage, because what is known is outrageous and has not been given nearly enough attention — largely because Beltway Republicans were complicit in the Obama-Clinton policy of allying with Islamists, and thus have shown no interest in probing the inevitably disastrous fallout.

As I have been pointing out for years, for example, we have never gotten to the bottom of why the State Department, under Mrs. Clinton’s direction, had an installation in Benghazi, one of the world’s most dangerous places for Americans.

The Obama administration, like the Bush administration, had touted Qaddafi as a key counterterrorism ally against rabidly anti-American jihadists in eastern Libya. Nevertheless, Secretary Clinton led the policy shift in which our government changed sides in Libya — shifting support to the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies, just as Mrs. Clinton had urged shifting U.S. support to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. In Libya, this included arming “rebels,” who naturally included a heavy concentration of jihadists.

EDITORIAL: What We Know about the Benghazi Attack Demands a Reckoning 

As I’ve recounted, to topple Qaddafi on behalf of the Islamists, the Obama administration — which did not seek congressional authorization for its offensive war (and preposterously maintained that bombing another country’s government was not really “war” anyway) — had to flout a United Nations resolution. The U.N. had agreed only to military operations for the purpose of protecting civilians, not offensive operations against the regime. Besides arming jihadists, the administration took no meaningful steps to make sure that Qaddafi’s military arsenals did not fall into terrorist hands. The regime was toppled and Qaddafi was brutally murdered — prompting Secretary Clinton’s bizarrely giddy quip, “We came, we saw, he died.” As some of us not-so-giddy types had warned would happen, Libya then became a safe haven for terrorists who turned on the American and Western forces that had cleared the path for them.

In small compass, this is the story of J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador killed in the Benghazi massacre. As Business Insider’s Michael B. Kelley recounts, before becoming ambassador, Stevens was the Obama administration’s official liaison to Qaddafi’s Islamist opposition in Libya, including its al-Qaeda-linked groups. The latter included the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG). Stevens worked directly with a top LIFG leader, Abdelhakim Belhadj.

When the Qaddafi regime was ousted, Belhadj took control of the Tripoli Military Council. In 2011, Belhadj met with anti-Assad “rebels” in Turkey to plan weapons shipments from Libya to Syria. As Mr. Kelley explains, in September 2012 the Times of London reported that “a Libyan ship ‘carrying the largest consignment of weapons for Syria . . . has docked in Turkey.’” According to that report:

The shipment reportedly weighed 400 tons and included SA-7 surface-to-air anti-craft missiles and rocket-propelled grenades. Those heavy weapons are most likely from Muammar Gaddafi’s stock of about 20,000 portable heat-seeking missiles — the bulk of them SA-7s — that the Libyan leader obtained from the former Eastern bloc. Reuters reports that Syrian rebels have been using those heavy weapons to shoot down Syrian helicopters and fighter jets. The ship’s captain was “a Libyan from Benghazi and the head of an organization called the Libyan National Council for Relief and Support,” which was presumably established by the new government.

Fox News subsequently reported that the ship, a Libyan-flagged vessel, Al-Entisar (The Victory), docked in the Turkish port of Iskenderun, only 35 miles from the Syrian border, on September 6, 2012. That was just five days before jihadists conducted the patently coordinated terrorist attack on the mysterious State Department and CIA compounds in Benghazi, killing four Americans including Stevens — who had been promoted to ambassador in May.

It is incontestable that the Obama administration has worked closely with the Islamist government of Turkey in efforts to arm and train “rebels” in Syria. Stevens’s last meeting on the night of September 11, 2012, right before the State Department’s Benghazi compound was attacked, was with Turkey’s consul general, Ali Sait Akin.

RELATED: Why Doesn’t the Buck Stop with Hillary?

In the months leading up to the attack on the State Department facility, and on the even more shadowy CIA outpost a little over a mile away, jihadists in eastern Libyaconducted a series of attacks against Western targets — including, on June 6, 2012, a bomb detonated just outside the State Department compound. The British government and the International Red Cross pulled their personnel out; yet the Obama administration left U.S. government personnel in, despite grossly inadequate security precautions.

Why? I believe that one significant mission was the coordination of weapons transfers from Libya to Syrian jihadists.

Remember the state of play in mid 2012. Obama was locked in a tight reelection race. He was falsely claiming that he had “decimated” al-Qaeda (which was actually thriving); that he was ending American wars (which were actually intensifying as he drew troops down despite ground conditions); and that his pro-Islamist policies were helping forge democracy in places like Egypt (then under Muslim Brotherhood rule) and Libya (which had disintegrated into a failed state under domination by Islamist militias). Prior to the November election, if Obama had openly announced that his administration was arming Syrian Islamists, it would have been highly controversial. It would have spotlighted how that same policy had failed in Libya, a fact to which neither the media nor Republicans had called public attention. This, no doubt, is why reports that Obama was “launching a covert operation to send weapons to Syrian rebels for the first time” (as the Times of London’s Christina Lamb put it) did not appear untilimmediately after Obama had won a second term.

Were Obama, Clinton, and others in the administration steering arms to Syrian jihadists before that time?

RELATED: The Benghazi Debacle Should Have Ended Hillary Clinton’s Career

Recall that in mid 2012, Obama was also feeling heat — from the Islamist regimes he was appeasing, from Beltway Republicans, and even from some in his own administration, apparently including Secretary Clinton — for not doing enough to help the “rebels” drive Assad from power in Syria. There was a good explanation for this reluctance: Our government knew that the Syrian “rebels,” like the Libyan “rebels,” teemed with jihadists. Not only has this fact long been notorious; Judicial Watch managed to wangle from the government an August 2012 Defense Department memo that flatly states, “The Salafist [sic], the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [i.e., al-Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.” The memo elaborates that its reference to AQI incorporates both Jaish al-Nusra (which is al-Qaeda’s main affiliate in Syria) and the Islamic State (the breakaway “caliphate” spawned by AQI).

There was no defensible security arrangement or diplomatic need for the State Department facility in Benghazi (U.S. diplomatic functions were handled in Tripoli). Was its real purpose to give diplomatic cover to covert intelligence operations (such as those at the nearby CIA compound)? If so, did those operations include aiding and abetting the arming of the Syrian rebels?

Unnamed U.S. government sources furtively described the CIA facility as, according to Reuters, “a base for, among other things, collecting information on the proliferation of weaponry looted from Libyan government arsenals, including surface-to-air missiles” (my italics). Putting aside the administration’s recklessness in failing to keep Qaddafi’s arsenals out of jihadist hands, what are the “other things” that the State Department and the CIA were up to?

We know, as detailed above, that Ambassador Stevens’s jihadist contact, Belhadj, moved an enormous shipment of weapons from Benghazi to the Syrian “rebels” in Turkey. And we know that, while claiming not to be directly arming those “rebels,” the Obama administration was working with Turkey, the Saudis, and other Islamist governments to determine which Syrian “rebels” should be armed. As the New York Times reported in June 2012, some three months before the Benghazi massacre:

A small number of C.I.A. officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government, according to American officials and Arab intelligence officers. The weapons, including automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons, are being funneled mostly across the Turkish border by way of a shadowy network of intermediaries including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood and paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the officials said.

The Times elaborated that “the Obama administration has said it is not providing arms to the rebels, but it has also acknowledged that Syria’s neighbors would do so.” To repeat, however: Soon after Obama’s reelection, the Times was explaining that “with help from the C.I.A., Arab governments and Turkey have sharply increased their military aid to Syria’s opposition fighters in recent months, expanding a secret airlift of arms and equipment.” And by June 2013, the Times reported that the administration had begundirectly supplying the Syrian “rebels” with “small arms and ammunition.”

Right after Stevens and three other Americans were killed in Benghazi, the U.K.’s Telegraph reported that the CIA’s facility there was an operation “to supply missiles from Libyan armouries to Syrian rebels.” Simultaneously, CNN’s Jake Tapper reported that enormous pressure was being brought to bear on CIA operatives not to reveal what the agency had been doing in Benghazi.

When Mrs. Clinton testified about the Benghazi massacre before a Senate committee in early 2013, she claimed to have no knowledge of any transfers of weapons from Libya to Turkey, Syria, or any other countries. As the The Daily Signal report details, Clinton was pointedly asked by Senator Rand Paul (R., Ken.) whether the U.S. had been “involved in any procuring of weapons, transfer of weapons, buying, selling, anyhow transferring weapons to Turkey out of Libya.” She initially tried to deflect the question, claiming that “nobody’s ever raised that with me.” But Senator Paul kept pressing:

It’s been in news reports that ships have been leaving from Libya and that they may have weapons. And what Id’ like to know is, that [CIA] annex that was close by [the State Department facility], were they involved with procuring, buying, selling, obtaining weapons, and were any of these weapons being transferred to other countries? Any countries, Turkey included?

When Mrs. Clinton again tried to deflect, suggesting that he instead put the question “to the agency that ran the annex” — as if the State Department had had no knowledge of what the CIA was doing next door — Senator Paul countered that he was asking about what Clinton herself knew. Mrs. Clinton answered, “I don’t know. I don’t have any information on that.”

Was she telling the truth? Were U.S. personnel stationed as sitting ducks in Benghazi in order to help supply weapons to Syria, where it was inevitable they would fall into the hands of America’s enemies? Perhaps we’ll soon find out.

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

Terror in France and the Annals of Willful Blindness

memorial Nice

By failing to take the jihadists’ ideology seriously, we refuse to understand the breadth of the threat we face.

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

Well into year eight of Obama, with the prospect of years nine through twelve hanging heavy in the candidacy of Hillary Clinton, it feels like I write the same column every few weeks now. How could it not? Fort Hood, Detroit, Times Square, Portland, Cairo, Benghazi, Boston, Garland, Paris, Chattanooga, Paris again, San Bernardino, Philadelphia, Brussels, Istanbul, Orlando, Istanbul again, Dhaka, and now, Nice. Even if we leave out the more overt war zones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Egypt, and Israel, the jihadist attacks targeting the West are coming in more rapid succession: iconic targets, dates of commemoration, diplomatic outposts, tourists, and citizens just going about their lives.

It is easy to grasp why this is the case. Willful blindness has metastasized from a dangerous dereliction of duty to a system of governance.

It was the wee hours of Friday morning, just after the Bastille Day jihadist mass-murder of at least 84 people. For Mrs. Clinton, that seemed the perfect time to take to Twitter and set the tone of the American response — the kind of resolve we can expect in a third Obama term. So as France retrieved the dead, dying, and maimed from the Promenade des Anglais, where Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel had barreled over them in his truck, she unloaded with the concern foremost in her mind:

Let’s be clear: Islam is not our adversary. Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.

I know, I know: you’re just relieved that she didn’t find a video to blame this time. Still, Clinton’s remarks are criminally stupid. So much so, they overwhelm even the criminal recklessness for which the FBI has just given her a pass on felony charges. She clearly mishandled mounds of classified information, but it appears doubtful that she read much of it. Or maybe she did read it but learned nothing from it, since politicizing intelligence and purging the Islam from Islamic terrorism is strict Obama-Clinton policy.

RELATED: Jihadists Are ‘Strong-Horsing’ the West

Even to one so superficial as Clinton, it should by now be perfectly obvious that that there is no “Islam,” at least not if we are talking about a monolithic belief system. There are sects of Islam, all vying for supremacy in what is, in the main, a conquest ideology — with the various splinters having very different ideas about what conquest entails, and with no papal analogue to impose order by decreeing orthodoxy and condemning heterodoxy.

Clearly, some of these sects are our enemy. And just as clearly, these sects also have a legitimate claim on the designation “Islam.” That does not mean they have a monopoly on the interpretation of Islam (there, again, being no such monopoly). But it does oblige government officials responsible for national security to deal with jihadists and other sharia supremacists on their own terms.

Why? Because the objective is to defeat our enemies, not redefine them. To defeat the enemy still requires knowing the enemy. Try as he might, Obama is unable to fundamentally transform Sun Tzu.

Obama-Clinton policy is to deny Islamic standing to jihadist terrorists. To be fair, it is an exacerbation of Bush policy. More importantly, it is pointlessly suicidal.

First the pointless part: The enemy derives legitimacy from his own literalist interpretation of Islamic doctrine. Thus, he is utterly indifferent to what the Westerners he seeks to conquer think of him or say about him. We non-Muslims cannot broker the competing doctrinal claims of internecine Islamic conflict.

Jihadists care neither about what Washington thinks “the true Islam” is, nor about the counterfactual “peace” and “tolerance” rhetoric in which this “true Islam” is swaddled. Our enemies’ Islamic legitimacy was not granted by us, and we are powerless to take it away from them. That’s for Muslims to figure out. Our enemies, moreover, know a good deal more about the subject than we do, their highly influential scholars having spent lifetimes steeped in sharia jurisprudence. They shred Washington’s imaginary “true Islam” with their own informed Islam, making us a laughing stock. I hate to be the bearer of (more) bad news, but, yes, the Blind Sheikh actually does know a tad more about Islam than Hillary Clinton.

RELATED: How Will France and the West Respond to Savage Terror Attack in Nice?

Now for the suicidal part of denying the Islamic moorings of jihadism: Contrary to White House blather, people do not commit mass-murder attacks because of economic privation or over trifling slights. They commit it because they are seized by commands that they take to be divine injunctions rooted in scripture, their devotion to which will determine whether paradise or eternal damnation awaits.

You may be a haughty American progressive, but not everybody is. You may roll your eyes over quaint notions like religious obligation, but not everybody is equally evolved. Not everybody is convinced that bloody sectarian conflict — the norm of history — is just as obsolete as the rule of law in the age of Obama.

I had to fight of the urge to throw my television out the window Thursday evening. Images of bodies strewn across the promenade along the Côte d’Azur were interrupted by one vapid pol after another, brought on set to condemn the “cowardly” jihadist. Cowardly? Do you think you could drive a truck through a mass of humanity and then shoot it out with trained security personnel, knowing all the while that you were going to die? Our enemies are barbaric savages, but cowards? To do what our enemies do requires nerve, fervor — a cause they believe is worthy of the raging passion Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al Banna called “the art of death.”

The fervor comes from their ideology. It has this terrifying hold on them because it is credibly drawn from their religious doctrine. If you don’t get that, if you think you can blithely dismiss jihadism as “cowardice” and thus avoid the unpleasant burden of understanding why it happens, you are never going to get what we’re up against. You are never going to summon the resolve it is going to take to overcome the enemy.

Because we don’t believe in much of anything anymore, we discount the pull of ideology. But everything about this enemy, from the pecking order of its leaders to its ruthless methods, from the targets it chooses to the ends it seeks, is all about ideology — fiercely held by its adherents because it is scripturally based. If we don’t face up to the fact that ideology is the core of the challenge we face — that we do not have the luxury of ignoring ideology until after it catalyzes murderous action — we cannot defend ourselves.

If we don’t grasp that the goal of our enemies is the imposition of fundamentalist sharia, we will continue to miss the breadth of the threat — the fact that the jihadists are just the front-line militants. Slipstreaming behind them, exploiting the atmosphere of intimidation they create, are the Muslim Brotherhood and affiliated faux moderates who pursue the same ends by infiltrating our councils of government policy and institutions of opinion.

These “moderates” have called the tune throughout Obama’s first two terms, and they’re banking on a third. That’s why we’re losing.

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

Willful Blindness: Senate Hearing on Efforts To Deemphasize Radical Islam in Combating Terrorism

TedCruzSenateJudiciaryCommitteeHearsjXSszyR1VLUl

SEE MORE UPDATES

UPDATE 1:50PM. Live-stream of the hearing is available on CSPAN-3. Follow our #WillfulBlindness twitter list for the most comprehensive, minute-by-minute coverage, featuring our CounterJihad team.

By CounterJihad, June 28, 2016:

Today at 2:30 Eastern, Senator Ted Cruz will lead Congressional hearings into the damage caused to national security by the Obama administration’s attempts to downplay the threat from radical Islam. The hearing seeks to get to the bottom of the Obama Administration’s attempt to cover up the threat posed by radical Islam to U.S. national security. President Obama and other government officials have effectively diverted attention away from the global jihadist movement and covered up key linkages in various terrorist attacks.

We have seen this strategy throughout Obama’s presidency: from labeling terrorist attacks like the Fort Hood shooting as workplace violence (finally called incident terrorist attack in 2015), to the Benghazi incident when former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others initially blamed the attack on an internet video, to the recent Orlando shooting where President Obama is shifting attention away from ISIS to gun control.

There is also a deliberate attempt to characterize individuals as “lone-wolf” terrorists to disconnect the individual from a broader terror network seeking to undermine U.S. security. Further attempts to disguise the real threat is evident in President Obama’s national security strategy “Countering Violent Extremism” (CVE) which National Review columnist Andrew C. McCarthy describes as an effort that “…forbids the conclusion that radical Islamic ideology has any causative effect on terrorist plotting.” Therefore, any terroristic activity executed in the name of Islam essentially has nothing to do with Islam. This handicaps our military, FBI, DHS and other federal authorities from going after individuals and groups who espouse radical Islamic ideology, which is a driver that leads individuals to commit violent terroristic acts. This also allows the penetration of Muslim immigrants who hold radical Islamic ideologies through U.S. immigration.

Worse yet, our federal government is taking advice from Muslim Brotherhood operatives like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), who in the document An Explanatory Memorandum: On the General Strategic Goal for the Group explains their strategy for the Muslim Brotherhood in North America as leading a “grand jihad in eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated.” We can’t seek national security guidance from groups and individuals who want to subvert our government and the American way of life.

Senator Cruz’s office says that the panel will specifically focus on ways that the administration has sought to undermine its own investigators.

The hearing will examine the Obama administration’s refusal to attribute the terrorist threats we face with radical Islam, hobbling our ability to combat the enemy. The hearing will specifically investigate how the federal government has not only refused to appropriately identify the specific threat of radical Islam, but has sought to undermine the people and information who have sought to highlight the threat.

Speakers will include a number of former US investigators, including Andrew C. McCarthy, a former Federal prosecutor of radical Islamic terror cases, and Phil Haney, a former Homeland Security officer who has charged that his databases on the entry of radicals into the United States were destroyed by the Clinton State Department.  Michael German, also of the FBI.  Rounding out the panel will be speakers from groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and Muslim Advocates, who will defend the proposition that Islam is being mistreated by those who wish to tie it to terror attacks such as San Bernardino or the Orlando shooting.

Here at CounterJihad we will have full coverage of these hearings.  Please join us for live coverage, and be sure to tune in to the hearings themselves on CSPAN-3.

Defenseless in the Face of Our Enemies

Lynch with OWhat keeps America from protecting itself against radical Islam?

National Review, By Andrew C. McCarthy — June 25, 2016

The Narrative and what we are not allowed to say

Screen-Shot-2015-10-08-at-2.03.24-PM-1024x408About That New Speech Code for Lawyers – Andrew McCarthy wonders if lawyers will get to prove cases against jihadist terrorists anymore.

And Steve Coughlin explains how the CVE narrative prevents us from speaking the truth about jihad:

 

Is the world going in the direction of Orwell’s 1984?

What are you going to do about it?

No Death Penalty for Benghazi Jihadist Protects “Al Qaeda is Dead” Narrative

Accused Benghazi terrorist Ahmed Abu Khatallah

Accused Benghazi terrorist Ahmed Abu Khatallah

… a death-penalty prosecution would call into question many aspects of Benghazi that the Obama administration has long sought to keep under wraps: how Obama-administration policy empowered the jihadists who carried out the attack; how those jihadists were linked to al-Qaeda, which the president was then ludicrously claiming to have defeated; how those jihadists attacked Western targets in Benghazi several times before September 11, 2012; how, despite that fact, the State Department led by Hillary Clinton reduced security at its Benghazi facility; how there has been no explanation why the State Department had a facility in Benghazi, one of the most dangerous places in the world for Americans; how there were American military assets in place that might have been able to rescue at least some of those killed and wounded in Benghazi, yet they were not used.

No Death Penalty for a Benghazi Jihadist — Is this Law or Politics?

National Review, By Andrew C. McCarthy, May 11, 2016:

In a terse submission to the federal district court in Washington, D.C., the Obama Justice Department has announced that it will not seek the death penalty against Ahmed Abu Khatallah. He is the only terrorist charged in the Benghazi massacre of September 11, 2012, in which U.S. ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other American officials were killed in an attack carried out by dozens of jihadists.

Government lawyers provided no explanation for this decision. If you are wondering whether politics played a role in it, you have good reason to be suspicious.

On the face of it, Khatallah is a textbook case for capital punishment. The Benghazi indictment alleges that he willfully and maliciously caused the death of Americans in a terrorist attack that he helped coordinate. The facts of his offense check several of the “aggravating factor” boxes in federal death-penalty law. There is, moreover, a national-security component, inherent not only in the Benghazi atrocity itself but in the perverse incentive that the government’s failure to seek an available death sentence would create for others considering mass-murder attacks against American installations overseas.

In addition, terrorists imprisoned by the United States after being prosecuted for successful attacks against America become iconic figures in the jihad. As long as they live, they can and do inspire more attacks, recruitment, and fundraising.

Thus, legal and national-security considerations militate in favor of seeking capital punishment. Remember, Mr. Stevens was the first U.S. ambassador killed in the line of duty since 1979. An attack on our ambassador and on sovereign American facilities abroad is an act of war against the United States. Since national security is the core responsibility of the federal government, there can be no federal offense more worthy of capital treatment.

We are talking about the Obama administration, though, so there are always political considerations. And when it comes to Benghazi, they always take precedence.

Read more