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Andrew C. McCarthy

Andrew C. McCarthy is the author of the bestsellers The Grand Jihad & Willful Blindness; also read him at National Review & The New Criterion.

What Part of Keeping Cuba Isolated Has Not ‘Worked’?

The Obama talking point being repeated by the administration’s note-takers in the media is that it makes sense for the president to try a different approach on Cuba because the policy of isolating the dictatorship has not “worked.” Naturally, what is meant by “worked” is not stated.

I’m trying to figure out what exactly the supposed flaw has been in the policy of isolating a brutal regime diplomatically and imposing a trade embargo on it – one that is a lot more like a screen than a wall – in order to pressure it to reform.

American presidents have vast foreign policy powers and plenary control over which regimes the United States recognizes and conducts diplomatic relations with. The Cuban embargo, by contrast, was established by statute and can only be repealed by Congress. Thus, it has many times been repeated over the last 24 hours that, in reestablishing diplomatic relations, President Obama has gone as far as he can on his own – the rest being up to lawmakers.

Wrong.

Several laws control the embargo. Among the most recent is the 1992 Cuban Democracy Act (codified in Chapter 69 of Title 22, U.S. Code). Section 6005 of the law outlines sanctions imposed against Cuba – the qualified blockade, prohibition on some financial transactions, and limitation on remittances.

But then there is Section 6007, the waiver provision. This tells us that, while it is true that it would require an act of Congress to repeal the restrictions on Cuba, no legislation is necessary to ignore the restrictions. The act empowers the president to do that on his own. All he needs to do is represent to Congress that the Cuban government

(1) has held free and fair elections conducted under internationally recognized observers;

(2) has permitted opposition parties ample time to organize and campaign for such elections, and has permitted full access to the media to all candidates in the elections;

(3) is showing respect for the basic civil liberties and human rights of the citizens of Cuba;

(4) is moving toward establishing a free market economic system; and

(5) has committed itself to constitutional change that would ensure regular free and fair elections that meet the requirements of paragraph (2).

Similarly, Section 6006 enables the president to provide humanitarian aid (food, medicine, and medical supplies) to Cuba … provided he represents to Congress that the Cuban government

(1) has made a public commitment to hold free and fair elections for a new government within 6 months and is proceeding to implement that decision;

(2) has made a public commitment to respect, and is respecting, internationally recognized human rights and basic democratic freedoms; and

(3) is not providing weapons or funds to any group, in any other country, that seeks the violent overthrow of the government of that country.

In other words, it has been American policy for decades – the policy Obama says does not “work” – that the United States may and should provide significant aid as long as Cuba, in return, stops terrorizing its citizens, respects basic human and civil rights, respects democratic freedoms, refrains from arming terrorists and insurrectionists, liberalizes its economy, establishes a free press, and lays the groundwork for free and fair elections.

So, if that hasn’t “worked” to encourage Cuban reform, what is the president suggesting will “work”? Giving Cuba aid and legitimacy without requiring the regime to change? Why would we want to give an American taxpayer dime to, or help legitimize in any way, a regime that rejects these basic elements of a civilized society?

Posted at 12:27 pm on December 18th, 2014 by Andrew C. McCarthy

Obama Says His Job Is Assuring Equal Protection Under the Law … Really?

Continuing to politicize tragedy, our community organizer-in-chief reacted to the grand jury’s refusal to indict a New York City police officer in the killing of Eric Garner by complaining that this decision and the one in Ferguson, Mo., “highlighted the frustrations that many African-Americans have harbored about a legal system that has a long history of discrimination against black people.” Obama is quoted by the New York Times proclaiming:

“When anybody in this country is not being treated equally under the law, that is a problem, and it’s my job as president to help solve it.”

Really?

Perhaps the president could start with Dinesh D’Souza. He should be able to get up to speed on it quickly since, unlike the state cases he is bloviating about, the D’Souza case was prosecuted by Obama’s own Justice Department. Even though his offense involved a comparatively trifling among of money ($15,000), D’Souza, unlike the overwhelming majority of people who violate the campaign finance laws, was not permitted to settle his case by paying an administrative fine. Instead, Obama’s Justice Department not only prosecuted him for a campaign finance felony, but gratuitously threw in an additional felony false-statements charge that turned Congress’s two-year maximum into a seven-year potential sentence.

By comparison, the Obama 2008 campaign, which committed over $2 million in campaign finance infractions, was permitted to pay a fine — indeed, a fine that was substantially less than the $500,000 bond D’Souza was forced to post just to get out on bail. Fortunately, a federal judge declined the Obama Justice Department’s push to send D’Souza to jail for 16 months. But he is absurdly being forced to spend six months in a halfway house — which is supposed to be the transition stage back into the community after a long prison sentence.

D’Souza is a conservative writer and film producer who has portrayed the president in an unflattering light.

Or maybe Obama could look into the matter of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, another prosecution by the president’s own Justice Department. In a blatant departure from equal protection principles, Nakoula was imprisoned for a violation of supervised release (the federal version of parole) that experienced probation officers and prosecutors would not even have brought to court, much less sought re-imprisonment over. Turns out Nakoula was the producer of a video that portrayed Islam in a very unflattering light. Having falsely claimed to have defeated al Qaeda, Obama needed a scapegoat when al Qaeda-affiliated jihadists attacked a U.S. compound in Benghazi, killing our ambassador to Libya and three other Americans. So Nakoula was singled out and prosecuted, even though his production of the video was protected by the First Amendment. He spent many months in prison.

Nakoula’s incarceration enabled the president and his underlings to pretend that the video, not the terrorists, caused the Benghazi Massacre.

Posted at 8:32 am on December 4th, 2014 by Andrew C. McCarthy

Iran Celebrates ‘Great Victory’ Because ‘Americans Have Clearly Surrendered’

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Fifth love letter’s the charm?

President Obama’s most recent capitulation in sham “negotiations” over Iran’s nuclear program is his agreement to a seven-month delay in the deadline for a final settlement, which was to have been this past Monday. As the president must know, this delay gives the revolutionary jihadist regime everything it needs: time; further preservation and legitimization of its nuclear program; continued sanctions relief, including $700 million per month from the United States; and no pressure to acknowledge, much less repudiate, its status as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism (i.e., the reason why its acquisition of nuclear weapons is — or at least used to be — unacceptable).

Is it any wonder the mullahs and their regime are celebrating?

The delay was driven by the unwillingness of Obama and the rest of the P5+1 negotiators (the five permanent UN Security Council states plus Germany) to adhere to Obama’s fraudulent commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The transparent purpose of extending the time for reaching a final agreement is to enable the administration and other Western governments to spin as “progress” their eventual and apparently inevitable failure.

No surprise then that the Iranian regime, which enjoys nothing more than calling the West on its fecklessness, is in full celebration mode. As the Washington Free Beacon’s Adam Kredo reports, Iran’s “moderate” President Hassan Rouhani is aptly portraying the delay as a “victory”:

Today we have a victory much greater than what happened in the negotiation,” Rouhani said. “This victory is that our circumstances are not like previous years. Today we are at a point that nobody in the world [says] sanctions must be increased in order that Iran accept P5+1 demands…. No one says to reach agreement we must increase pressure on Iran…. But they say to reach an agreement more time and more discussion is needed. This is a great victory for what the Iranian nation started since last June 15.

Rouhani added, “Centrifuges have been running and I promise the Iranian nation that centrifuges will never stop.” He further bragged that Iran had never discontinued its enrichment of uranium, and predicted that the West would fold by lifting all economic sanctions while Iran preserves its nuclear program.

Even more giddy contempt for the West was exhibited by Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the regime’s top security force, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. (That’s the same IRGC found by a U.S. court to have coordinated the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing that killed 19 American Air Force personnel in Saudi Arabia.) He crowed, “The Americans have very clearly surrendered to Iran’s might, and this is obvious in their behavior in the region and in the negotiations.” General Jafari promised that if the United States ever tried to attack Iran militarily, “our war will end by conquering Palestine.”

The long extension of the deadline results from Obama’s delusion that abetting the jihadist regime will pave the way for a U.S.-Iran rapprochement. Iran’s refusal to play ball is a spurning of our president by the regime’s ruler.

Posted at 2:29 pm on November 26th, 2014 by Andrew C. McCarthy

Boehner Retains Leftwing Critic of Executive Power for Lawsuit against Obama

I am with Power Line’s Paul Mirengoff on the too-clever-by-half choice by Speaker Boehner to retain leftwing law professor Jonathan Turley as counsel in the House’s long-delayed lawsuit against President Obama. In the end, I don’t think it will matter. As Paul points out, judges tend to decide cases based on the merits. When they don’t, their own political leanings matter a lot more than those of the lawyers for the parties.

Moreover, as I’ve opined, the lawsuit is frivolous: The Framers gave Congress its own powers to deal with a rogue president and would have been appalled at the thought of the powerful first branch asking the “least dangerous” third branch to do its heavy lifting. Moreover, as I recounted in Faithless Execution, Obama pays no more attention to court decisions against him than to statutes he dislikes. Since judges have no power to execute their rulings (they need the executive branch for that) a decision against Obama would have no effect – which makes it even less likely that a judge would agree to hear the case, in which the House already faces a daunting challenge to establishing legal standing to sue. (And by the way, that standing challenge now includes not only the fact that courts are not meant to resolve these policy disputes between the political branches, but the problem of mootness: Boehner talked a big game on the lawsuit but has waited so long to file it that many of the president’s Obamacare “waivers” that the suit was to target are about to lapse.)

But even if we indulge the dubious assumptions that a court will take the case and could give a rat’s rump about the politics of the lawyers, the relevant fact about Professor Turley is not that he is a liberal taking a principled stand against a Democratic president’s lawlessness. It is, as Paul notes, that he is an extreme opponent of executive power, even in areas where the president has broad inherent authority. So if a judge bothered to weigh Turley’s politics, he would either discount the professor’s advocacy as the product of excessive skepticism about presidential action; or adopt Turley’s theories and issue a ruling that hampers future Republican presidents in matters of foreign affairs and national security.

That is the problem with political stunts like the lawsuit. They don’t have real upside but they’re not always harmless.

Posted at 5:27 pm on November 19th, 2014 by Andrew C. McCarthy

As War Heats Up, Obama Dismantles War Approach to Counterterrorism

Last week, while Republicans popped open the champagne over the electorate’s emphatic rejection of the Obama left’s policies, Mr. Obama significantly advanced one he’s been pushing – against public opinion and with haltingly incremental success – since the first hours of his presidency. Lost amid Shellacking 2.0 – and between the sudden dump of over 60,000 previously withheld Fast & Furious documents and the president’s reaffirmation of his executive illegal-alien amnesty vow – was the administration’s further dismantling of the post-9/11 counterterrorism paradigm.

With nearly no one noticing, the administration transferred a long-held terrorist detainee out of Guantanamo Bay. Fawzi al-Odah was returned to his native Kuwait, another Gulf halfway house between Gitmo and return to the jihad. He had been detained under the laws of war for over a dozen years because he was assessed as posing a continuing danger. Naturally, his release was instantly heralded by an al Qaeda leader in Syria – indeed, by a top figure in what the administration refers to as the Khorasan group, the al Qaeda component plotting attacks against the U.S. and the West. And astoundingly, it appears that al Qaeda knew Odah’s release was coming before the American people were informed.

Odah’s transfer comes just as the president, forced to confront the increased jihadist threat from al Qaeda and ISIS, has escalated the number of American troops (as “advisers” only, of course) and continues conducting an aerial bombing campaign. It fulfills a prediction made this past summer by former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and other commentators (including your humble correspondent): The release in July of five Taliban commanders in exchange for the deserter Bowe Bergdahl was intended to help Obama achieve the vow to close Guantanamo Bay, made on his first day in office. (Actually, Obama promised to close Gitmo within a year. He is five years behind schedule because Americans hate the idea, igniting strong congressional opposition.)

The laws of war, the foundation of Bush-Cheney post-9/11 counterterrorism, provide for detention without trial of enemy combatants until the conclusion of hostilities. Hostilities are not close to being over – as Obama quite obviously recognizes since our forces continue to conduct lethal attacks. We know, moreover, that a very high percentage of former detainees return to the jihad. The CIA has conceded that it could be 20 percent, but the truth is it’s no doubt higher – our intelligence community has no idea who goes back to the jihad unless they encounter the terrorist on the battlefield or are in the unusual position of having good intelligence about about what he’s up to. We do know that former Gitmo detainees regularly resurface as al Qaeda leaders in places like in Yemen, Iraq and Libya.

Yet, by releasing the Taliban commanders – the “worst of the worst” … and at a time when the Taliban was (just as it is) still conducting terrorist operations against our troops – Obama established a very high ceiling. By acceding to the release of high-ranking Taliban operatives despite the heightening threat, the administration makes it far more difficult to rationalize the continued detention without trial of virtually any other Gitmo detainee. By comparison, the Taliban commanders were bound to be worse.

Posted at 1:29 pm on November 10th, 2014 by Andrew C. McCarthy

While Obama Officials Bloviate About Settled ‘Science,’ DoD Scientists Fear Air Transmission of Ebola

Pretending to be guided by “science” rather than practicing politics in service of their post-American agenda, Obama administration officials persevere in the irresponsible suggestion that Ebola cannot be transmitted through the air – i.e., that it requires physical contact with an infected person that results in exposure to bodily fluids. It should go without saying that because viruses mutate, responsible scientists would never claim that the “science” about them is “settled.” But quite apart from the dynamic circumstances, government scientists are obviously concerned about air transmission in the here and now, even as the spin-meisters claim it cannot happen.

Aaron Klein has uncovered a “broad agency announcement” (BAA) from the Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), soliciting research proposals to combat Ebola (in connection with the government’s efforts against chemical and biological threats). The BAA is appended to a “Federal Business Opportunities” notice – the notice can be found here, and the BAA is an attachment atop the right column, accessible through the link “HDTRA1-15-EBOLA-BAA”).

At page 7, Section 2.2.4 (“Ebola Characterization”), the Defense Department’s BAA explains that Ebola is “aerostable” and, since other filoviruses infect through “the respiratory route,” it is at least theoretically possible that Ebola could, too. (The CDC elaborates that Ebola is a filovirus.) As the BAA puts it:

 While current science indicates the disease can only be transmitted by contact with contaminated body fluids, it remains unclear if other transmission modes are feasible. Filoviruses are able to infect via the respiratory route and are lethal at very low doses in experimental animal models, however the infectious dose is unknown. There is minimal information on how well filoviruses survive within aerosolized particles, and in certain media like the biofilm of sewage systems.

The BAA goes on to add (my italics): “While current science indicates the disease can only be transmitted by contact with contaminat”Preliminary studies indicate that Ebola is aerostable in an enclosed controlled system in the dark and can survive for long periods in different liquid media and can also be recovered from plastic and glass surfaces at low temperatures for over 3 weeks.”

Posted at 10:43 am on October 29th, 2014 by Andrew C. McCarthy

We Need to Call It Terrorism

Within three days there have been two jihadist attacks in Canada, carried out by Canadian citizens who recently converted to Islam. No terrorist organization has claimed responsibility, at least as yet. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Stephen Harper showed no reluctance in calling the terrorists … terrorists.

Bravo!

Whether the attackers were incited by the summons to jihad from groups like al Qaeda and ISIS, or were actual members of such groups, there should be no question that these were terrorist attacks. The Obama administration’s practice of denying that terrorist attacks are terrorist attacks has been profoundly foolish – and it was good to hear the president seem to inch away from it today.

The point of this cockamamie denial approach is part political correctness and part plain politics.

President Obama has repeatedly claimed to have “decimated” al Qaeda and put it “on the path to defeat.” Actually, the terror network is on the rise. Furthermore, it is now rivaled by ISIS, a jihadist organization that may be even stronger. Denying obvious instances of terrorism, such as the jihadist mass-murder at Fort Hood, is a transparent effort to conceal the obvious falsity of the president’s claims. If these attacks are not really terrorism, the reasoning goes, then there must be less terrorism; therefore, the pretense of defeating terror networks can be spun as validated. As I’ve said before, it is a way of miniaturizing the threat.

It is more than that, though. Terrorism is fueled by an ideology. It is rooted, quite literally, in Islamic scripture. To cite one of many examples, in the Koran’s sura 8:12, Allah instructs Muslims: “I will instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their fingertips off them.” Thus, Omar Abdel Rahman, the infamous “Blind Sheikh” I prosecuted for terrorism in the nineties, used to exhort followers:

Why do we fear the word “terrorist”? If the terrorist is the person who defends his right, so we are terrorists. . . . The Koran mentions the words “to strike terror,” therefore we don’t fear to be described with “terrorism.” . . . We are ordered to prepare whatever we can of power to terrorize the enemies of Islam.

Posted at 7:27 pm on October 22nd, 2014 by Andrew C. McCarthy

The Washington Times’ Guide to ‘Moderate’ Islam: CAIR & a Flying Imam

I would have thought I was reading the New York Times. But no, it was the Washington Times, whose Andrea Noble gave a platform to notorious Islamists yesterday, enabling them to masquerade as moderates who condemn Islamic State jihadists for purportedly running afoul of sharia law in their rampage through Iraq and Syria.

Ms. Noble helped the Council on American-Islamic Relations and Omar Shahin along by airbrushing their backgrounds: CAIR is presented to the reader as a mainstream “Muslim organization” opposed to terrorism, with no mention of the fact that it is a Muslim Brotherhood creation conceived to promote Hamas — one with a long history as an apologist for terrorists (indeed, it has had terrorists in its ranks). Not a word is breathed about Mr. Shahin’s unsavory background: ringleader of the infamous “Flying Imams”; leader of an Islamic Center in Tucson well-known for its al-Qaeda and Hamas sympathies; denial of Muslim terrorist involvement in the 9/11 attacks; and his ties to Islamic “charities” shut down by the government for promoting jihad.

Ms. Noble similarly whitewashes sharia. It would of course be nice if, as she intimates, there were no mainstream interpretation of Islam that supported sex slavery and extortion in the form of jizya – the tax required of non-Muslims for the privilege of living under the protection of a sharia state. But it is simply a fact that these practices have firm roots in Islamic scripture. While we should applaud the work of authentic Muslim moderates to reform these concepts, it is a disservice to our national security to minimize the threat by pretending that the extremist construction of Islam is utterly false and followed by only a fringe.

It is literal, plausible, and has millions of adherents.

But it is not my purpose to rebut the Washington Times’s happy-face sharia; the estimable Robert Spencer has already done that here (see also here). My focus is the continuing practice by the government and the media — and not just the left-wing legacy media — of presenting Islamists as both “moderates” and a reliable source of information about Islam. Islamists promote sharia, which — as classically interpreted — is a most immoderate body of law. And they are incorrigibly Janus-faced, peddling “religion of peace” treacle for credulous Westerners while lionizing jihadists when they figure no one but other Islamists are listening.

In 2010, The Grand Jihad – my book about the Muslim Brotherhood and its sabotage of the West — was published. As it happens, I included a chapter that dealt specifically with CAIR, Mr. Shahin, and the “Flying Imams” episode.

I reproduce that chapter below, and encourage readers to ask: (a) Isn’t the sharia debate, as Mr. Spencer demonstrates, more complicated than the Washington Times suggests; and (b) shouldn’t the Times either make full disclosure about its sources or, dare I say it, find better ones?

Posted at 7:25 am on October 16th, 2014 by Andrew C. McCarthy

Let Us Tell You What We’re Not Going to Do About Presidential Lawlessness

Why is he always telling them what he’s not going to do?

This has become a constant refrain among President Obama’s Republican and conservative critics. And it is an excellent question. Why does the president tell jihadists from the Islamic State and al-Qaeda that the American campaign against them will be strictly limited to aerial bombing (sporadic, at that) and absolutely, positively will not involve the introduction of U.S. ground forces?

The theory behind the question is bulletproof: the only way you can hope to keep bad actors in check, to discourage them from acting roguishly in pursuit of their ambitions, is to indicate that you might respond with your superior powers. Even if you are reluctant to unleash those powers, the seed of doubt planted by signaling the possibility of decisive counteraction forces rogues to tread lightly. On the other hand, take your decisive weapons off the table and you’re sure to find ISIS mocking your impotence, sacking city after city, and poised to take Baghdad.

My question for my colleagues: why don’t we practice what we preach?

Back in June, my book Faithless Execution was published. Contrary to some of the commentary it provoked, I did not call for President Obama’s immediate impeachment. Indeed, I argued that the lesson of the Clinton impeachment episode was that it is a mistake to commence impeachment proceedings in the absence of strong public support for the president’s removal.

The point of the book was to address how presidential lawlessness — a threat to our governing structure over which the Framers agonized — is dealt with in the American constitutional system. Other than the ballot box, the Constitution provides only two ways for Congress to rein in presidential maladministration: the power of the purse and impeachment. That is, Congress can starve the administration of the funds needed to carry out its rogue practices, or it can remove from power executive officials — up to and including the president — who are lawless, derelict, profoundly dishonest, or incompetent in the carrying out their duties.

Like committing military “boots on the ground” in the Middle East, the use of these powers could be dispositive. Moreover, if Republicans signaled that reluctant resort to these powers was a distinct possibility — a signal that would rivet public attention to presidential lawlessness, and could thus alter the political climate — President Obama would be forced to factor that into his calculations.

Yet — adopting the president’s self-defeating strategy for conducting war — congressional Republicans cannot quickly enough or often enough tell the world what they are not going to do about Obama’s lawlessness.

Posted at 11:00 am on October 14th, 2014 by Andrew C. McCarthy

On Awlaki Reporting, Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

Last night’s post about Anwar al-Awlaki shows that I should stay away from variations of the word “break” in the context of news reporting. Used inaccurately, or at least incompletely, it can create the misimpression that one is erroneously assigning credit – or even personally claiming credit – for someone else’s good work.

To begin with the easy part, I am not a reporter and I do not break news or claim credit for breaking it. I am an analyst. I rely on the reporting of a number of terrific journalists whose reliability is well established, and on significant reporting by journalists whom I know less well but whose work can be corroborated.

In that spirit, I do not, and did not, claim to have revealed any new news about Awlaki. Rather, (a) two years ago, based on new reporting by others about Awlaki, I concluded – based on my own experience in prosecuting criminal cases and dealing with informants – that the government’s claims about its dismissal of a pending case against Awlaki did not make sense, and that it had probably tried to use him as an informant; and then (b) in last night’s post, I contended that new revelations, brought to light by others, bore out the legal analysis I had offered two years ago.

Now to the trickier part: assigning credit correctly. I always try to give credit to the reporting I rely on. In my Awlaki post two years ago, I credited a report by Fox’s Catherine Herridge. I did not claim that Ms. Herridge was the first to break the news that the government had intervened on Awlaki’s behalf to “un-arrest” him in October 2002. I credited her with breaking the narrower news that an FBI official had admitted that the government knew Awlaki was about to return to the U.S. before the Justice Department intervened on his behalf – a detail which proved the falsity of government’s original story that its dismissal of a felony arrest warrant for Awlaki was sheer coincidence.

My 2012 post then went into the background on Awlaki – both the evidence against him and his dealings with the government. For that, one of my main sources was the excellent Paul Sperry. I had also relied and lavishly credited him in my 2010 book, The Grand Jihad – in addition to his Awlaki reporting, Mr. Sperry’s work on the Muslim Brotherhood and its American network has been essential.

In his own invaluable 2005 book, Infiltration, Mr. Sperry had been the first (at least to my knowledge) to report on Awlaki’s “un-arrest.” This is no secret: Ms. Herridge has extensively credited him (including in her own superb 2011 book, The Next Wave); so did ABC news in a 2009 report that discussed Awlaki in the context of the Fort Hood massacre. I cited Mr. Sperry twice in my 2012 post, although not specifically on the “un-arrest” details. I meant no slight to Mr. Sperry (again, I’ve admiringly cited his work many times); it was simply a matter of Ms. Herridge’s then-new report about the FBI official’s testimony being the jumping-off point for my post.

In last night’s post, I observed that Ms. Herridge and Judicial Watch had stayed on the case. By saying this, I did not mean to imply that no one else had stayed on the case or done critical work on it. But I was writing about a report by Ms. Herridge a couple of days ago that was based on documents that Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit forced the government to disclose.

In describing Ms. Herridge’s years-long coverage of the Awlaki story, I stated that it was she “who in 2012 broke the news about Awlaki’s mysterious un-arrest a decade earlier.” This was a poor use of “broke” on my part. As just explained, what Ms. Herridge reported on in 2012 was the FBI official’s admission about an important detail concerning the “un-arrest.” News of the “un-arrest” itself had been broken years earlier by Mr. Sperry. Indeed, the new reporting by Ms. Herridge that I linked in last night’s post includes the following:

Previously obtained records show that in 2002, within days of al-Awlaki’s re-entry to the U.S., he showed up in [FBI agent Wade] Ammerman’s counterterrorism investigation in Virginia into Ali al-Timimi, who is now serving a life sentence on non-terrorism charges. [* See ACM note, below.] On Oct. 22, 2002, 12 days after the imam’s return, another FBI memo obtained through the Judicial Watch federal lawsuit (marked “Secret”) includes the subject line “Anwar Nasser Aulaqi” [ACM: i.e., Awlaki] and “Synopsis: Asset reporting.” The existence of the customs entry records was first documented by author Paul Sperry.

Hopefully, this gives credit where credit is due. It was not my intention to avoid doing that.

*ACM note: I assume Ms. Herridge meant that al-Tamimi was not charged under the federal code’s specific international terrorism statutes, which is true. I would not, however, describe the case against him as based on “non-terrorism charges.” He was, after all, convicted of inciting a terrorist war against the United States, attempting to aid the Taliban (a terrorist organization), and inciting the use of firearms and explosives. These are charges very similar to those in my own prosecution against Omar Abdel Rahman (“the Blind Sheikh”) in 1995 – a year before anti-terrorism law was overhauled and specific international terrorism statutes were enacted. The Blind Sheikh was convicted of, among other things, conspiring to levy a terrorist war against the United States, conspiring to bomb, and inciting attacks against American military installations. These were clearly terrorism charges even though the applicable statutes did not include the term “terrorism.”

Posted at 7:08 am on October 3rd, 2014 by Andrew C. McCarthy