Part of the Obama administration’s national security strategy for almost four years has included avoiding the possibility of offending Muslims. Despite the administration’s claims that the anti-Muslim online video should not be an excuse for anyone to violently attack the United States, President Barack Obama will address the General Assembly at the United Nations on Tuesday and denounce the film trailer. In the meantime, leaders of Islamic nations will be at the UN and demand that anti-blasphemy laws be established.
President Obama’s remarks will happen as Americans continue to wonder why the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya remained unprotected during a deadly terrorist attack. Americans are also disappointed over the numerous apologies the administration has offered Muslim countries since the beginning of President Obama’s term. Many witnessed Mr. Obama apologizing for the United States to Islamic countries for “stereotyping” Muslim culture. President Obama stressed in his 2009 speech in Cairo: (VIDEO)
“So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn’t. And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.”
“But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America. Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire.” Obama’s administration began making changes below the radar to ensure that those “crude stereotypes” would not permeate throughout his foreign policy.
More recently, President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared on Pakistan TV, billed directly to U.S. taxpayers for $70,000, and apologized for the obscure film trailer to the rioting protesters at the gates of the U.S. embassy in Pakistan. What happened to our American foreign diplomacy? It appears that there is more than just political correctness that is ruling our national security decisions.
In March of 2009, The Justice Department withdrew the term “enemy combatant” for Guantanamo detainees.
“As we work towards developing a new policy to govern detainees, it is essential that we operate in a manner that strengthens our national security, is consistent with our values, and is governed by law,” said Attorney General Eric Holder of the change in the lexicon. “The change we’ve made today meets each of those standards and will make our nation stronger.”
According to a DOJ press release:
In its filing today, the government bases its authority to hold detainees at Guantanamo on the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, which Congress passed in September 2001, and which authorized the use of force against nations, organizations, or persons the president determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the September 11 attacks, or harbored such organizations or persons.
The government’s new standard relies on the international laws of war to inform the scope of the president’s authority under this statute, and makes clear that the government does not claim authority to hold persons based on insignificant or insubstantial support of al Qaeda or the Taliban.
Two weeks later the phrase “war on terror” was dropped and “overseas contingency operations” was used instead.
The change in lexicon did not start with the Obama administration but began late in the last Bush administration. In April of 2008, the Associated Press reported that a memo from the Extremist Messaging Branch at the National Counter Terrorism Center, which was approved for diplomatic use by the State Department, was sent out to all U.S. embassies:
The Bush administration has launched a new front in the war on terrorism, this time targeting language.
Federal agencies, including the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Counter Terrorism Center, are telling their people not to describe Islamic extremists as “jihadists” or “mujahedeen,” according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. Lingo like “Islamo-fascism” is out, too.
The reason: Such words may actually boost support for radicals among Arab and Muslim audiences by giving them a veneer of religious credibility or by causing offense to moderates.
For example, while Americans may understand “jihad” to mean “holy war,” it is in fact a broader Islamic concept of the struggle to do good, says the guidance prepared for diplomats and other officials tasked with explaining the war on terror to the public. Similarly, “mujahedeen,” which means those engaged in jihad, must be seen in its broader context.
U.S. officials may be “unintentionally portraying terrorists, who lack moral and religious legitimacy, as brave fighters, legitimate soldiers or spokesmen for ordinary Muslims,” says a Homeland Security report. It’s entitled “Terminology to Define the Terrorists: Recommendations from American Muslims.”
The AP reported other specifics of the memo:
- “Never use the terms ‘jihadist’ or ‘mujahedeen’ in conversation to describe the terrorists.
- … Calling our enemies ‘jihadis’ and their movement a global ‘jihad’ unintentionally legitimizes their actions.”
- “Use the terms ‘violent extremist’ or ‘terrorist.’ Both are widely understood terms that define our enemies appropriately and simultaneously deny them any level of legitimacy.”
- On the other hand, avoid ill-defined and offensive terminology: “We are communicating with, not confronting, our audiences. Don’t insult or confuse them with pejorative terms such as ‘Islamo-fascism,’ which are considered offensive by many Muslims.”
By 2011, Obama’s Counterterrorism and Deputy national security advisor John Brennan was urged by Muslim, Arab, and South Asian organizations to begin an “independent, effective investigation into the federal government’s training of its agents and other law enforcement” and institute a “purge” of any material that the undersigned organizations deemed unacceptable.
In an October 19, 2011 letter to Mr. Brennan, the groups criticize for anti- Muslim bias the FBI’s 2011 training manual, the books at the FBI library in FBI training academy in Quantico, Virginia, specific FBI trainers and analysts, and a report made by Army Command and General Staff at the Fort Leavenworth School of Advanced Military Studies.
The letter makes references to a September 2011 Wired Magazine piece by Spencer Ackerman. The letter was also sent to Attorney General Eric Holder, Department of Homeland Security Sec. Janet Napolitano, Sec. of Defense Leon Panetta, FBI Director Robert Mueller, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, and Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough.
It should be noted The Daily Caller reported that the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights division head Tom Perez met with Islamist advocates on October 19. According to the DC:
Top Justice Department officials convened a meeting Wednesday where invited Islamist advocates lobbied them for cutbacks in anti-terror funding, changes in agents’ training manuals, additional curbs on investigators and a legal declaration that U.S. citizens’ criticism of Islam constitutes racial discrimination.
The department’s “civil rights lawyers are top of the line — I say this with utter honesty — I know they can come up with a way” to redefine criticism as discrimination, said Sahar Aziz, a female, Egyptian-American lawyer.
“I’d be willing to give a shot at it,” said Aziz, who is a fellow at the Michigan-based Muslim advocacy group, the Institute for Social Policy & Understanding. The audience of Islamist advocates and department officials included Tom Perez, who heads the department’s division of civil rights.
Here are the final recommendations in the letter to Brennan:
In response to these recent disclosures, federal officials across the country—particularly FBI field offices—have been reaching out to local Muslim communities to state that the offensive training materials do not reflect the opinion of the FBI, its field offices or the federal government. Until the following steps are taken to remedy this problem and to prevent it from recurring, we will not be confident in these assertions. We urge you to create an interagency task force, led by the White House, tasked with the following responsibilities:
1. Review all trainers and training materials at government agencies, including all FBI intelligence products used such as the FBI intranet, FBI library and JTTF training programs; US Attorney training programs; U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Defense, and US military intranet, libraries and training materials, resources and experts;
2. Purge all federal government training materials of biased materials;
3. Implement a mandatory re-training program for FBI agents, U.S. Army officers, and all federal, state and local law enforcement who have been subjected to biased training;
4. Ensure that personnel reviews are conducted and all trainers and other government employees who promoted biased trainers and training materials are effectively disciplined;
5. Implement quality control processes to ensure that bigoted trainers and biased materials are not developed or utilized in the future; and
6. Issue guidance clearly stating that religious practice and political advocacy are protected activities under the First Amendment, not indicators of violence, and shall not be the basis for surveillance or investigation.
The interagency task force should include a fair and transparent mechanism for input from the Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities, including civil rights lawyers, religious leaders, and law enforcement experts.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill began noticing changes in national security protocol immediately thereafter, as many were mystified that the Fort Hood shooting was classified as “work place violence” and American officials did not want to say that Arid Uka, the 21-year-old Albanian Kosovar who screamed “Allahu Akbar” before he shot four and killed two U.S. servicemen on a bus in Frankfurt, Germany, was a terrorist.
In December of 2011 Congressman Dan Lungren, California Republican, questioned Paul N. Stockton, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense, at a joint session of the Senate and House Homeland Security Committee. After much back and forth, Stockton would not say the United States was “at war with violent Islamist extremism.” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, Texas Republican, had a similar experience in May of 2010, when he questioned Attorney General Eric Holder at a House judiciary hearing about the issue of radical Islam.
The FBI training manual changed. Nearly 900 pages of training that was considered offensive were deleted. Members like Congressman Allen West, Florida Republican, and Congressman Louie Gohmert, Texas Republican, were critical of the purge.
Gohmert questioned FBI director Robert Mueller in May 2012 about the deleting of FBI material. Rep. Gohmert went to the House floor and compared the number of times certain terms (at 22:40) were used in the 9/11 Commission report as opposed to the now purged FBI training manual. For example, according to Gohmert, the 9/11 report mentioned the word “Islam” 322 times. However, Gohmert discusses that the FBI training manual can no longer mention the terms: Islam, Muslim, jihad, enemy, Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, caliphate, Shariah law.
“The people who were the hijackers the people who planned the attacks that hoped to have killed tens of thousands of Americans instead of three thousand those were Islamists…they believed in Islam. And thank God that they only represent a tiny percentage of Muslims around the world, but let’s be realistic. As one intelligence officer said, ‘we are blinding ourselves to being able to see who our enemy is.’”
President Barack Obama has yet to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. His White House cannot seem to relay a cohesive story as to why the U.S. consulate in Libya was not properly protected, especially considering the consulate was a target of a bomb attack three months prior. In a Sixty Minutes interview on Sunday night, President Obama called the problems in the Middle East “bumps in the road.”
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney responded to ABC News saying, “imagine saying something like the assassination of ambassadors is a bump in the road.”