Before the Obama administration came to power, the whole point of such background investigations was to determine if a person was somehow affiliated with an organization notorious for violence or criminality. That was the objective of the exercise. Once you found that there was an affiliation with terrorists, that was the end of the matter — no visa, no invitation into our country, no security clearance, no government employment, no admission to highly secure government locations or access to top government security officials, no benefit from our government, period.
Look at what has happened under Obama. Now, the government takes as a given the very thing the background investigation used to be conducted to find out: namely, that the person at issue is affiliated with known terrorists, terrorist financiers, and/or terrorist organizations. In Obama’s America, that turns out not to be the end of the investigation — it’s only the beginning. Astonishingly, it is only after you confirm that your subject has undeniable terror ties that you start vetting him for dangerousness. Terror ties are no longer a bright-line disqualifier; now they’re just a trigger for conducting more investigation — which actually means, to figure out a way to rationalize accommodating the terrorist.
As with nearly everything Obama, this is such a mind-blowing perversion of longstanding policy that we are paralyzed by the Eldin incident itself. We don’t come around to asking the vital follow-up question: What is going on here? Why is Obama working to change our basic understanding of what a background investigation is? Of what terrorism is?
Here is what you need to understand. Here is what Mitt Romney needs to be highlighting as a major campaign issue: President Obama is laboring to shift the United States away from the post-9/11 conception of counterterrorism. Our government is steadily adopting the Islamist conception that has gained so much traction on the European Left. The Islamist conception has two elements.
(a) What we refer to as “terrorism” — ideologically driven mass-casualty attacks designed to extort changes in government policy — is not actually terrorism; it is resistance. That is, violence is a legitimate, or at least quasi-legitimate reaction to government policies that progressives deem inappropriate, if not downright immoral. Why change our understanding of the concept of terrorism? Because terrorism is a universally condemnable atrocity. Resistance, by contrast, is just hardball politics — like community organizing. For the Left, engagement in “resistance” is merely an aggressive form of negotiation; it does not disqualify the aggressor from a seat at the policy table. Which brings us to …
(b) It seems like only yesterday that terrorists were seen as the pirates of yore: hostis humani generis, the enemies of mankind. No more. For transnational progressives, operatives of organizations like the IG are merely members of a political movement. Welcome to the alchemy of “Islamic democracy,” which is better understood as a laundering operation for Islamic supremacists than as a social transformation for Islamic populations.
In terms of substance, there is nothing democratic about the wave of “democracy” said to be sweeping the Middle East in the “Arab Spring.” Democracy is a culture; holding an election is a mere procedural exercise. The most antidemocratic organizations in the world conduct votes from time to time. If sharia — the Islamic comprehensive legal code — is installed by popular election rather than violence, that does not make it “democratic” in the Western sense of the term. Sharia still stands against much of what Western democracy stands for — liberty, equality, and justice.