The phrase “war on terror” is being bandied about more by both press and Capitol Hill lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Senator Chuck Schumer, New York Democrat, referred to the killing of Osama bin Laden as “a turning point in the war on terror.” Senator Joe Lieberman, Connecticut Independent, told me he thinks that “it’s silly” for the Obama administration to refer to the war on terror with “soft terminology.”
“The important point here is that the war on terror is short hand. This is a war with Islamist terrorism, and I know that [terminology] is controversial to some people but terrorism is a means to an end. The enemy we have here is violent Islmaist extremism. So whatever the soft terminology [it was] it just wasn’t correct. It was silly,” Senator Lieberman told me. Mr. Lieberman also took offense to the vague use of the administration’s use of the word “extremism” in the area of national security, saying:
“Same as people in the administration still have to use the word….they say our enemy is violent extremism. It’s not. It’s not animal rights extremists or white supremacy extremists, it’s Islamic extremism.”
Listen to Senator Lieberman here
As I posted back in March, Congressman Al Greene, Texas Democrat, took offense to Islamic extremism hearings Congressman Peter King, New York Republican. Mr. Green took the view that excluding a federal hearing and investigation on the terrorism of the KKK was wrong.
In 2009, the phrase ‘Global War on Terror’ was replaced by the Obama administration with “Overseas Contingency Operation.” Fox News reported:
In a memo sent this week from the Defense Department’s office of security to Pentagon staffers, members were told, “this administration prefers to avoid using the term ‘Long War’ or ‘Global War on Terror’ [GWOT.] Please use ‘Overseas Contingency Operation.’”
A spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget, from whom the direction reportedly came, told the Post there was no guidance given from the agency and that it was merely the “opinion of a career civil servant.”
A Pentagon spokesman said there was no memo or specific directive instructing officials to stop using the ‘Global War on Terror’ phrase but acknowledged that the department has officially adopted ‘Overseas Contingency Operation’ as the new term for the war.
In May of 2010 it was reported that the administration began calling the war on terror “CVE” or “Countering Violent Extremism.” The Atlantic points out:
The phrase first appears to have been used in public by the director of national intelligence, Adm. Dennis Blair (Ret.), and its utterance was picked up by Newsweek.
Though there hasn’t been any formal announcement, folks in the counteterrorism business are now using CVE in the same way they used GWOT — Global War On Terror just five years ago.
In fact, President George W. Bush took heat for suggesting a long name for the war on terror, saying in 2004: “We actually misnamed the war on terror. It ought to be the struggle against ideological extremists who do not believe in free societies who happen to use terror as a weapon to try to shake the conscience of the free world.”
One thing is for sure, “CVE” or “Overseas Contingency Operation” is not commonly used by lawmakers on Capitol Hill which begs the question if the Obama administration will tell it’s defense staffers to begin using clearer and bolder terminology to refer to the fight against terrorism.