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The Expendable Bin Laden

August 9th, 2012 - 10:55 am

As I’ve noted elsewhere (see here and here), the Washington Post‘s leftist columnist Dana Milbank covered my speech yesterday and writes a predictably disapproving take on it today. In it, toward the end, he mis-describes my exchange yesterday with his fellow lefty, Adam Serwer of Mother Jones.

Serwer evidently doesn’t understand the rudimentary difference between being an Islamist and being sympathetic to Islamists — or at least he pretends not to understand. So he thinks Obama’s support for same-sex marriage somehow destroys my argument that Obama is supporting the Brotherhood. This is a silly line of attack and I’ve addressed it a number of times, including in The Grand Jihad and at yesterday’s event (it’s in the Q&A section after my speech, over an hour into the event). Islamists and Leftists disagree on several points, but that does not prevent them from allying and collaborating, as they often do, on their many areas of mutual interest.

Following on Serwer, Milbank also distorts my prior assertion that the Muslim Brotherhood had concluded Osama bin Laden was “expendable.” Milbank writes:

Serwer also asked McCarthy about his 2010 suggestion that Obama was free to kill Osama bin Laden because “the Islamists [Obama] wants to engage have decided al-Qaeda is expendable” and counter to their peaceful takeover of American institutions. [Emphasis added.]

Contrary to Milbank’s suggestion, my statement about bin Laden being expendable had nothing to do with the killing of bin Laden, which happened a year later. When I made the statement in 2010, I was addressing the seeming contradiction between (a) Obama’s laudable aggressiveness in attacking al Qaeda safehavens in places like Pakistan and Yemen, and (b) Obama’s embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood. The point was about political calculations — I never remotely suggested that Obama needed or thought he needed the Muslim Brotherhood’s permission to do anything.

By the time Obama became president in 2009, bin Laden had exhausted whatever use he had to the Muslim Brotherhood. Brotherhood leaders were by then condemning the 9/11 attacks, but not because they condemn terrorism — which they usually applaud. Unlike jihadist attacks in other places, strikes against the American homeland are counterproductive from their perspective. They are making good progress on their agenda of mainstreaming sharia through non-violent stealth jihad; terror attacks against our country, however, are guaranteed to provoke an aggressive response — at least in the short term. That would have the effect of rolling back the Brotherhood’s gains.

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I was invited by the Center for Security Policy to give a speech at the National Press Club in Washington yesterday. The topic was our government’s relations with the Muslim Brotherhood and why concerns about Brotherhood infiltration, raised by five conservative House members, are very real. The speech ran nearly an hour, and there was a little over a half-hour of Q&A afterwards. The event was carried by CSPAN, and for those interested, the link is here. Below is the prepared text of my speech:

Imagine, if you will, the following scenario.

A candidate for a high position in an executive branch agency — a position that entails a great deal of influence over public policy, a position that requires access to highly classified national security information — comes in for an interview by the FBI.

This is a routine background investigation. Even people being considered for low-level positions in the executive branch are subjected to them. It is not because we question their patriotism or suspect that they are bad people. It is just common sense — in addition to being the subject of a good deal of statutory law and federal regulation.

Naturally, as government positions get higher, more important, and more sensitive, the background investigations get more detailed — probing not only a candidate’s background, experiences, finances and associations, but those of the candidate’s close family members.

One matter that is of particular importance is connections to foreign countries, organizations, persons and movements. There’s an entire section devoted to these concerns in Form 86, the form that all candidates for national security positions in the federal government are required to complete.

Let’s assume that our candidate truthfully completes the form. What do you suppose our FBI agent is thinking as he flips through the form, asks some follow up questions, and gets the following story from the candidate:

“I’ve worked the last dozen years at an institute that was founded by a wealthy, influential Saudi who is intimately involved in the financing of terrorism.”

“Are you just speculating about that?” the candidate is asked.

“Speculating? Oh, no, no, I’m not speculating. You see, this Saudi guy actually started an ostensible ‘charity’ that the United States government has designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. It is a designated terrorist because it lavishly funded al Qaeda — you know, the jihadist network that we’re at war with. As a matter of fact, one of the men this Saudi guy brought in to help him run the specially designated terrorist organization, was so close to Osama bin Laden, that he actually helped bin Laden start al Qaeda.”

The agent figures, “You’ve got to be kidding me. I guess you didn’t know this Saudi guy who was funding al Qaeda, right?”

“Well,” our candidate responds, “as a matter of fact, we overlapped for seven years at that institute I worked at. Remember I told you that he’s the one who started it and I eventually worked there for twelve years? Well, turns out he stayed involved in it for decades — it was his baby … he gave the institution its mission and its vision. He was still there advising it and shaping it for my first seven years there. Then they took him off the masthead … right around the time he became a defendant in the civil lawsuit filed by the victims of the 9/11 attacks.”

The agent is stunned. All he can think to ask is: “Why did you leave the institute?”

“Oh,” our candidate replies, “I got offered a full-time job at the State Department, helping the secretary of State make U.S. foreign policy.”

I really wish that was a farfetched story.

Now let me back up for a moment. First, thank you all for coming here today.

I came to Washington at the suggestion of my friends at the Center for Security Policy. They asked me to address the controversy stirred by five conservative members of the House of Representatives who’ve raised concerns about Islamist influence on American policy — specifically, the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamist governments, organizations and affiliates with which it works.

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