- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 21, 2011

During the Cold War, America faced an implacable enemy, driven by a supremacist ideology that called for, among other things, the use of an array of covert front groups, stealthy techniques and subversive activities to achieve our destruction. For many years, our effort to defeat Soviet communism featured a concerted counterintelligence effort aimed at ferreting out and defeating such sedition.

Unfortunately, America now faces once again an implacable enemy, driven by a supremacist ideology that calls for, among other things, the use of an array of covert front groups, stealthy techniques and subversive activities to achieve our destruction. In the place of the Soviet Union and the influence operations run by its intelligence service, the KGB, and the Communist International (Comintern), we confront the Islamic doctrine known as Shariah and the Muslim Brotherhood, which serves as the principal engine for extending its reach.

It seems, however, that we have no counterintelligence effort comparable to that of the Cold War or remotely commensurate with today’s threat. Indeed, based on the evidence of successful penetration and influence operations being run by the Muslim Brotherhood these days, one would be tempted to conclude that counterintelligence has effectively ceased to be part of our tool kit in keeping America safe and free.

Consider just a few of many worrying examples:

• When President Obama engaged in his latest “outreach to the Muslim world” at the State Department last month, seated in the front row next to the secretary of state was Imam Mohamed Magid. Iman Magid happens to be the president of the largest Muslim Brotherhood organization in the country, the Islamic Society of North America. As with the White House’s insistence that Muslim Brotherhood representatives be included in the audience during the president’s Cairo 2009 address, the message could not be any clearer: Far from perceiving the Muslim Brotherhood as what it is — an organization determined to destroy the United States and the rest of the free world — Team Obama sees its members as reliable partners.

• That message was being reinforced at this writing when, on Monday, senior U.S. government officials sat down with an assortment of Muslim Brotherhood operatives and groups under the auspices of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. Prince Alwaleed, a major benefactor of Brotherhood causes and enabler of its own and similar Islamist influence operations, endowed his center at Georgetown University with a gift of $20 million. The investment is paying handsome dividends as it affords the Muslim Brotherhood a vehicle for using “interfaith dialogue” as a means of legitimating and promoting its personnel and agendas.

• In 2009, the Muslim Public Affairs Council — an organization that counterterror expert Patrick Poole describes as the “political lobbying arm of the U.S. Brotherhood” — boasted that it was “consulted” by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa about his choice of police chief. Such a political stroke may have something to do with the Muslim Brotherhood threat being downplayed by Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Michael Downing, who testified last week before Rep. Peter T. King’s House Homeland Security Committee about Islamist “radicalization” in the U.S. prison system.

• Meanwhile, part of the job of performing background checks for U.S. security clearances has been contracted out to companies incentivized to help clean up a serious backlog. According to employees, they are given quotas of cases to process with one company requiring as many as 20 per day. Does anyone seriously believe this is a formula for properly vetting personnel?

Meanwhile, there is an issue requiring serious vetting with problems dating back to the bad old Cold War days. The United States Senate is poised to confirm as the next secretary of defense a man who, back during James Angleton’s days, would have been considered a security threat.

Thanks to intrepid reporting by Cliff Kincaid, we now know that during his days as a congressman from California, Leon E. Panetta had close personal ties to communist agents and spies. At no point has he disavowed such relationships or expressed remorse for any help he may have provided them. Neither has any senator indicated concern about the problematic judgment or security risks that might be associated with such a Pentagon chief.

The question occurs: Can we possibly hope to survive our time’s ideologically driven subversion — let alone prevail over it — if we systematically disregard the threat its adherents pose here at home? We need to reconstitute the sort of serious counterintelligence capability and practice that we have employed to great effect in the past. Continuing to do otherwise is to invite, if not assure, our destruction.

Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy (SecureFreedom.org), a columnist for The Washington Times and host of “Secure Freedom Radio,” heard in Washington weeknights at 9 on WRC-AM (1260).