Ordered Liberty

Obama Administration's Breathtaking Arrogance on Questions about Inviting a Terrorist to Washington

One should always hesitate before jumping to the conclusion that the something that just happened is the worst thing that has ever happened — history usually has many worse “worsts” ready to hand. Still, if there has been a more breathtakingly arrogant performance by an administration official in the modern history of the United States than the one Jen Rubin reports on at the Washington Post today, I can’t think of it.

The Obama administration recently issued a visa to an Egyptian named Hani Nour Eldin, an operative of a foreign terrorist organization — formally designated as such under U.S. law — so that the administration could consult with the jihadist about Egypt’s future under the governance of Eldin’s pals at the Muslim Brotherhood. This is not speculation: Eldin brags about being a member of the organization and the administration concedes the visa was issued and the meeting happened.

Outrageous as this sounds, it does not do the outrage justice. The terrorist organization in question, the Islamic Group (Gama’at al Islamia), is the group led by Omar Abdel Rahman, the notorious “Blind Sheikh” currently serving a life sentence in U.S. federal prison for his foundational role in forming the jihadist cell that carried out the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and was later thwarted while attempting simultaneously to bomb several other New York City landmarks. (I handled the case for the United States, back when its government thought jihadists should be prosecuted rather than cultivated.)  The Blind Sheikh’s cell, essentially, was a U.S. branch of the Islamic Group (IG).

Moreover, the IG has committed numerous atrocities the goal of which has been to extort the United States into releasing the Blind Sheikh from prison. These include the barbaric murders of several dozen tourists in Luxor, Egypt, in 1997. The IG, in conjunction with its allies in al Qaeda, has openly and repeatedly threatened violence against the United States if the Blind Sheikh is not released and repatriated to Egypt. A staple of the Egyptian Islamic Ascendancy Arab Spring is the now routine and hostile IG-driven demonstration outside the U.S. embassy to demand the Blind Sheikh’s release. So seriously has our government heretofore taken the IG that the Bush Justice Department prosecuted the Blind Sheikh’s lawyer, Lynne Stewart, for material support to terrorism over her communication of messages from the Blind Sheikh to IG members in Egypt.

Despite being 70 years old, Stewart was ultimately sentenced to ten years in prison for consulting with and advising the IG. The Obama administration is now doing essentially the same thing Stewart was doing but calling it “foreign policy.” The administration is actively aiding and abetting members of a terrorist organization with a hellacious record of violence and threats of violence against the United States. That is not just a departure from American policy against negotiating with terrorists; it is a serious violation of federal law.

Such an abomination is this that even the Obamedia has been roused from its slumbers to question the administration about it. As Jen recounts, the inquiries Friday were put to State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland.

The transcript Jen produces is jaw-dropping. Nuland quips that, when word of the visa’s issuance became public, the administration only “pledged to [the press] that we would look into it” — not that the most transparent administration in history would actually report back on what was uncovered about how and why the visa to the terrorist operative was issued. One incredulous reporter responded, “I don’t recall you saying when you said you were going to look into it, that you weren’t going to tell us what the results of the investigation were. I missed that part.” The laugh-a-minute Ms. Nuland’s responded, “That’s true. You did.”

AFP further notes, in a story bearing the astonishing title, “US justifies visa for Egypt Islamist,” that Nuland claimed the administration had no “reason to believe that [Eldin] — who at the time of his application was a member of parliament — would pose a threat to the United States.” That’s rather obnoxious.

The law of material support to terrorism does not make an exception for members of the terrorist organization that the State Department, in its infinite wisdom, thinks are probably not dangerous. (This, by the way, is the same State Department that used to use convicted terrorist financier Abdurrahman Alamoudi as an emissary.) Moreover, the fact that a country whose population is 75 percent Sunni supremacist decides to elect terrorists to its parliament is of no consequence as far as American criminal law is concerned: The IG is a terrorist organization, and assisting its members is a felony regardless of what parliament they belong to. The designated terrorist organization Hamas is the government of Gaza; members of the designated terrorist organization Hezbollah hold political office in Lebanon. Is the Obama administration saying that once terrorist organizations launder themselves through the rinse-cycle of “sharia-democracy” they are no longer terrorist organizations? If so, somebody better let Congress know, because our statutes still seem to say that supporting members of designated foreign terrorist organizations is a crime.

But then again, why bother with Congress when you’ve convinced yourself that you can rule like a dictator, when the Congress is content to let you walk all over it, and when Mitt Romney doesn’t appear to think national security is an issue worth campaigning on?

Join the conversation as a VIP Member