Texas Sen. Ted Cruz used a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on Thursday to relentlessly question Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on the “purging” of Islam-specific language from terrorism reports.
The Republican senator spent nearly 10 minutes asking why the Obama administration has adopted a “systematic policy” of “scrubbing” words like “jihad,” “Muslim,” and “Islam” from its counterterrorism materials.
“The FBI counterterrorism lexicon uses the word ‘jihad’ zero times. The national intelligence strategy of 2009 uses the word ‘jihad’ zero times,” Mr. Cruz said. “The strategic implementation plan to prevent violent extremism of 2011 uses the word zero times. The national intelligence strategy in 2014 uses the word zero times.”
Mr. Cruz then referenced DHS whistleblower Phil Haney, who said more than 800 Customs and Border Control documents in 2009 were “ordered modified, scrubbed, or deleted to remove references to jihad or the Muslim Brotherhood or other similar references.”
In response to the senator’s question as to the accuracy of Mr. Haney’s testimony, Mr. Johnson replied, “I have no idea. I don’t know who Mr. Haney is. I wouldn’t know him if he walked in the room.”
The two men then argued over whether or not it is merely a “semantic difference” to “erase references to radical jihad” in intelligence reports.
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Mr. Johnson warned that officials could not effectively “build bridges” if they offend Islamic communities, while Mr. Cruz said the ability to prevent terrorist attacks requires precise language.
“Because of this effort — scrubbing your law enforcement material of any acknowledgment of radical Islamic terrorism — when you see the red flags of radical Islamic terrorism, you do not follow up on them effectively. We have terrorist attack after terrorist attack after terrorist attack that could have been prevented but for this administration’s willful blindness,” Mr. Cruz said.
“I think that our people are smart enough to identify potential terrorist behavior whether you call it Islamic or extremist or anything else,” Mr. Johnson countered.