On her way out the door, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the unspeakable, literally. Until last month, when she repeatedly warned in congressional testimony concerning the Benghazi debacle that we confront a “global jihadist threat,” the Obama administration did not allow the use of the words jihad and threat in the same sentence.
How ironic that the principal architect of this “see-no-jihad” policy is John O. Brennan, President Obama’s current homeland security and counterterrorism adviser and his choice to head the Central Intelligence Agency. Setting aside the obvious questions about why Mrs. Clinton chose her swan song on Capitol Hill to state the obvious but impermissible truth, if she’s right, why on earth would the Senate want to entrust critical collection and analysis of intelligence to the very person who has epitomized and enforced a policy of willful blindness toward the central threat of our time: the supremacist Islamic ideology of Shariah and the holy war, or jihad, its adherents are obliged to wage?
Mr. Brennan has repeatedly insisted that jihad is not about holy war. Rather, as he put it in a speech in May 2010, “Jihad is holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam meaning to purify oneself or one’s community.” According to him, to use the term the way the jihadists do, would, as Fox News reported at the time ” ‘play into the false perception’ that the ‘murderers’ leading war against the West are doing so in the name of a ‘holy cause.’ “
For Mr. Brennan, “Describing our enemy in religious terms would lend credence to the lie propagated by al Qaeda and its affiliates to justify terrorism — that the United States is somehow at war against Islam.” It is one thing for a policymaker who is a consumer of intelligence to cherish such illusions. It is another thing altogether for them to be nurtured by a leader of the intelligence community, whose biases may skew whether factual information is collected and objectively analyzed. The latter can put the nation in mortal peril.
This danger is all the more worrying because even before Mr. Brennan was nominated for the CIA job, he sought to circumscribe what its personnel — and their counterparts elsewhere in other intelligence agencies, the military, homeland security and law enforcement — could know about the Islamist enemies we confront. He officiated over the purging of files and training materials and the terminating of trainers whose failure to toe his willfully blind policy was deemed “offensive” to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and other, so-called Muslim “activists.”
Worse yet, during Mr. Brennan’s tenure at the White House, the Obama administration actually promulgated guidelines ensuring that, henceforth, “countering violent extremism” training materials and trainers paid for by the Homeland Security Department and used by any government agency — federal, state or local — must effectively be approved by these “community partners.” This means we are now allowing agents of the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization sworn to our destruction, to determine our understanding and awareness of the threat they and their fellow Islamists pose to the rest of us.
Under the circumstances in which even Mrs. Clinton says we are facing a jihadist threat, senators considering Mr. Brennan’s nomination must answer a critical question: Is John Brennan so invested in the narrative promoted by America’s jihadist enemies that he will further compound, rather than correct, the politicization of intelligence he has promoted during the past four years from the White House?
Specifically, legislators need to assess Mr. Brennan’s situational awareness with respect to the Muslim Brotherhood and what it calls “civilization jihad” — a pursuit through stealth and subversion of the goals the Brotherhood shares with other jihadists: the triumph of Shariah worldwide and the reconstitution of a caliphate to govern according to that Islamic supremacist and totalitarian doctrine. If he doesn’t get it, he shouldn’t get the job. He must be considered ineligible for the sensitive post of CIA director.
As it happens, there are a lot of other folks who don’t think Mr. Brennan should get the job, either. The radical left is up in arms over his central role in “enhanced interrogation techniques” during the Bush administration and drone strikes during the Obama presidency. Unless Code Pink’s histrionics actually translate into the loss of Democratic votes, a cynic might be forgiven for thinking it is a gambit designed to induce Republican senators to rally behind a man associated with such aggressive — and necessary — tools for defeating the jihadists.
The Senate is consumed at the moment with another of Mr. Obama’s utterly unacceptable nominations: Chuck Hagel’s appointment as secretary of defense. Mr. Hagel’s appalling appearance last week was an affront to the men and women in uniform and to the American people they defend. Combined with his history of poor judgment on issues ranging from hollowing out the military and its nuclear deterrent, engaging and emboldening our enemies and undermining our friends like Israel, Mr. Hagel’s palpable contempt for the Senate on that occasion should ensure that he is not confirmed.
John Brennan is equally undeserving of the Senate’s approval. His malfeasance and incompetence on the central challenge of our time is compounded by his arrogance, his disdain for Congress and its oversight responsibilities, his serial and damaging leaks of sensitive national security secrets and his history of mendacity. No one should be under any illusion: Such behavior will only intensify if, in response to that appalling record, the Senate confirms his promotion.
Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy (SecureFreedom.org), a columnist for The Washington Times and host of the nationally syndicated program, Secure Freedom Radio, heard in Washington weeknights at 9 p.m. on WRC 1260 AM.