Obama's National Security 'Not Top 10' of 2011
(See last year's "Not Top 10" here.)
Here you go, in chronological order:
1) President Obama claims Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood lacks major support (February 6)
During Obama's Super Bowl interview with Bill O'Reilly, Egypt was in the midst of a revolution that eventually led to the ouster of longtime Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Obama was asked about whether the Muslim Brotherhood was a threat. He responded:
I think they're one faction in Egypt. They don't have majority support in Egypt. But they're well organized. There are strains of their ideology that are anti-U.S. There's no doubt about it.
He went on to claim that there are many secularists and liberals in Egypt that wanted representative government. The rest of the administration followed suit, with Daniel Shapiro of the National Security Council assuring Jewish groups on a conference call that the Muslim Brotherhood would "be a minor player in Egyptian politics." New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof also pointed to questionable polls claiming that the Muslim Brotherhood only received 15 percent support.
As we've seen in recent weeks, the president was completely wrong in his assessment (as were the administration flacks and media lapdogs who parroted the president's claims). In the first two rounds of elections, the Muslim Brotherhood has come out on top, and with their Salafist Al-Nour allies, they aim to control the Egyptian parliament with a significant legislative majority -- possibly enough to rewrite the country's constitution. In the first round, they secured 37 percent of the seats; in the second round, they won 47 percent of the seats up for grabs.
Now, the Obama administration's think-tank allies are spinning the Muslim Brotherhood's electoral success by assuring the Beltway's "smart set" that the group is savvy and politically flexible, meaning there's nothing for us to fear.
How did Obama miscalculate so poorly on the Muslim Brotherhood's support in Egypt? Well, that brings us to ...
2) Director of National Intelligence James Clapper tells Congress that the Muslim Brotherhood is a "largely secular" group (February 10)
Just a few days after Obama claimed that the Muslim Brotherhood lacked major support in Egypt, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper went before the House Intelligence Committee and was asked by Rep. Sue Myrick about the organization. He gave this response:
The term "Muslim Brotherhood" ... is an umbrella term for a variety of movements, in the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried al-Qaeda as a perversion of Islam. ... They have pursued social ends, a betterment of the political order in Egypt, et cetera. ... In other countries, there are also chapters or franchises of the Muslim Brotherhood, but there is no overarching agenda, particularly in pursuit of violence, at least internationally.
Catcalls poured in from all quarters. Richard Engel on MSNBC called Clapper's comments "a wild misreading of the organization." Sen. Mark Kirk expressed his concern about Clapper's remarks and the Obama administration's position with respect to the Muslim Brotherhood. ABC News noted that the State Department's own background note on Egypt described the Brotherhood as a "potent political and religious force." Even FBI Director Robert Mueller, who was testifying with Clapper, had to add: "Obviously, elements of the Muslim Brotherhood here and overseas have supported terrorism." This put the lie to Clapper's claims that they had "eshewed violence" (e.g., Hamas).
It wasn't even the close of business that day when Clapper's spokesman issued a "clarification" of the director's remarks.
What is important about this episode is that Clapper was not speaking off-the-cuff, but was reading verbatim from a set of written briefing notes that had been prepared by the top intelligence analysts in the intelligence community. They had apparently ignored (unlike PJ Media's Barry Rubin) that the supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood had declared war on the U.S. just a few months before, just as the Clinton administration ignored al-Qaeda's declaration of war in 1998.
As we continue to see the Middle East devolve into fundamentalist Islamic totalitarianism over the next year -- perhaps the worst foreign policy disaster in the past century -- we can be reminded that the U.S. intelligence community not only didn't see it coming but actively aided in the collapse by blinding policy makers to the reality of the Muslim Brotherhood's agenda.
3) Osama bin Laden buried by U.S. military in accordance with Islamic traditions (May 2)
The Obama administration eviscerated a decade's worth of (admittedly misguided) U.S. strategic communications that said Osama bin Laden had hijacked Islam by burying him in accordance with Islamic law.
After the deed had been done, Obama's national security adviser John Brennan gave a briefing to the White House press corps where he claimed: "The disposal of -- the burial of bin Laden's remains was done in strict conformance with Islamic precepts and practices. It was prepared in accordance with the Islamic requirements." Brennan explained that bin Laden's funeral had been conducted by a U.S. military Muslim chaplain (no word if the Muslim chaplain involved was one of those hand-picked by al-Qaeda financier Abdurahman Alamoudi on behalf of the Defense Department, or one trained by al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki). The Navy's service for Islamic burial also includes a petition that Allah forgive the sins of the deceased, and provide a nice house and a better wife.
But that didn't assuage prominent Islamic scholars from around the world, who complained that bin Laden's burial at sea did violate Islamic law. In response, the Islamic scholars at the White House doubled-down, insisting that he had been buried according to Islamic tradition.
There was hardly any public discussion about the ramifications to the years of strategic communication by both the Bush and Obama administrations that insisted that Osama bin Laden had "hijacked Islam" and operated outside bounds of Islamic teaching. In one simple act the Obama administration confirmed what the U.S. government had repeatedly denied for almost a decade.
4) Pentagon overrules field commanders, grants Private Naser Jason Abdo conscientious objector status just weeks before his arrest for planning terror attack on fellow soldiers (May)
When Naser Abdo was arrested in Killeen, Texas, on July 27 just outside the gates of Fort Hood -- the location of Major Nidal Hasan's massacre two years before -- it should have set off alarm bells at the Pentagon. The deputy assistant secretary of the Army had overruled Abdo's field commanders, including the commander of the 101st Airborne, in granting conscientious objector status to Abdo just a few weeks before. Abdo would have received an honorable discharge, had it not been for an outstanding child porn charge that he was facing a court martial hearing on.
Abdo went AWOL from Fort Campbell on the July 4 weekend, only to reappear planning his terror attack at Fort Hood a few weeks later. In a recent jailhouse interview with a Nashville TV station, Abdo admitted that he had initially planned on abducting, torturing, and killing on camera one of his superiors at Fort Campbell, but when he was questioned about his visits to a local gun store by Army investigators, he went AWOL and redirected his terror attack plans.
The Pentagon had plenty of warning that Abdo was trouble. After his arrest, a member of his basic training platoon, Sgt. Michael Payton, appeared on Fox News and described the anti-American and anti-Semitic statements Abdo would make. He added that Abdo would harass a Jewish soldier in the platoon. Abdo was later kicked out of a Pashto language school.
As I noted here at PJ Media just days after he had been granted conscientious objector status, many of the statements he had publicly made parroted those made by Major Hasan. Other groups were aware of his extremist views and refused to support his conscientious objector claims, and his case was opposed by at least one Islamic organization.
That didn't stop Abdo from being the darling of the establishment media, with his plight given coverage by CNN, Al-Jazeera, ABC News, and the New York Times (the Times story has apparently been removed from their website). His cause was also championed by Iraq Veterans Against the War and the Muslim American Society.
After his arrest, several anti-war organizations attempted to scrub their association with Abdo from their respective websites. Unfortunately for the Pentagon, their ruling in his favor as a conscientious objector will be harder to scrub away.