- - Monday, February 6, 2012

On Feb. 5, President Obama provided his own Super Sunday show. In some respects, it was almost as bizarre as Madonna’s performance at half-time. In his interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer, Mr. Obama responded oddly to concerns raised last week by leaders of the U.S. intelligence community. They testified on Capitol Hill that the Iranian mullahs appear to be planning attacks on the United States. Yet, the president told Mr. Lauer, “We don’t see any evidence that they have those intentions or capabilities right now.”

Anyone with an IQ above room temperature has noticed lately plenty of evidence of both hostile Iranian intentions and the capabilities to act on them. Consider a few examples:

• Last fall, the Obama administration announced that it had intercepted an Iranian plot to blow up a popular restaurant in Washington in order to kill the Saudi ambassador who frequents it. They did so with the knowledge that more 150 Americans would be murdered in the process. Just last week, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, used the occasion of a rare open hearing to vouch strongly for the quality of the evidence implicating the regime in Tehran, despite the seemingly unprofessional nature of the assassination plan.

• The Iranians also have established a formidable foreign legion in their terrorist proxy, Hezbollah. This Lebanese “Party of God” has killed Americans elsewhere, and we know that they have established a presence in Latin America, notably under the protection of Iran’s ally in Venezuela, Hugo Chavez. There are increasing indications that Hezbollah is now embedding itself in Mexico, doing business and making common cause with narcotrafficking drug cartels there. Such ties facilitate these jihadists’ ability to penetrate the southern U.S. border that Team Obama seems determined not to secure.

• What is more, we know Hezbollah already has active cells in place in the United States. They have been involved here in cigarette trafficking, money laundering and fundraising for the mother ship. It would be dangerously naive to think that Hezbollah’s operatives inside this country are not also preparing for acts of terror. The same goes for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ al Quds paramilitary units that the Obama Pentagon has warned are operating with Hezbollah in our hemisphere.

• Even U.S. intelligence is now coming around to another ominous reality: Iran cooperates with al Qaeda. The evidence is indisputable that Shiites and Sunnis can, when in pursuit of a common foe, overlook differences about particulars of their respective practices of Islam and the bitter enmity that has flowed from them for centuries.

A federal judge recently found that the mullahcracy in Tehran assisted Osama bin Laden’s operatives in planning and executing the murderous attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Iran’s “house arrest” of his family members and top al Qaeda operatives since then is now increasingly recognized as tantamount to providing safe haven, not imposing involuntary incarceration.

That being the case, one must add the capabilities of al Qaeda and its proliferating franchises to the ayatollahs’ potential strike packages against this country. Never mind those official assurances that “al Qaeda’s core” has been diminished by years of drone strikes and special forces missions against their leadership. Iranian state sponsorship ensures that we will face a continuing and growing danger from those terrorists and others committed to imposing worldwide the Islamist doctrine of Shariah.

Interestingly, in his congressional testimony last week, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper actually called this pan-Islamic front the “global jihad movement.” This would appear to be a violation of clear Obama administration guidance that no association can be made between “violent extremism” and the Islamic impetuses behind nearly all of it. It also marks a considerable improvement over Mr. Clapper’s preposterous declaration a year ago that the Muslim Brotherhood is a “largely secular organization” that has “eschewed violence.”

• What about the reported agreement between Iran and Venezuela to base some of the former’s ballistic missiles on the latter’s territory? The timing of this deployment and the speed with which it metastasizes into a new Cuban Missile Crisis cannot be determined at this point. Still, the intent to threaten the United States certainly is evident, even if this particular capability to act on that intention thankfully has yet to be achieved.

• Finally, Iran appears to have developed all but one of the ingredients needed to mount what has been described as a “catastrophic” attack on the United States: a strategic strike unleashing a high-altitude electromagnetic pulse. All that is lacking is a working nuclear weapon that can be launched aboard even a short-range missile from a ship off our coast.

Successive government and independent studies have established that such an attack would disrupt for a protracted time, and possibly destroy, our electrical grid and all the infrastructures that rely upon it. Without them, our society and population simply cannot be sustained - giving rise to the distinct possibility of achieving Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s stated goal of “a world without America.”

Mr. Obama’s statement that “we don’t see any evidence” of Iran’s intentions and capabilities to attack us is either witless or deceptive. Either way, it is as strong an argument as any for his defeat in November - assuming the mullahs have not acted in the meantime on their well-documented desire to eliminate us and our friends in Israel.

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 p.m. on 1260 AM.