Obama's National Security 'Not Top 10' of 2011

8) White House blocks appointment of moderate Muslim leader Zuhdi Jasser to State Department post (October)

When Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, held hearings back in March on the radicalization threat in the Muslim community, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser was one of the called witnesses. Jasser -- a retired decorated Naval officer and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy -- was called an "Uncle Tom" by prominent Muslim leaders and denounced by far-left outfits including The Nation magazine and the Center for American Progress. They attacked Jasser as "a leading light of the Islamophobia network" (the hypocrisy of denouncing a Muslim as an "Islamophobe" was apparently lost on the Democratic think tank).

But even before Jasser's appearance before the Homeland Security Committee, he had been nominated by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to a post on the State Department's U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, which is tasked with "appraising U.S. Government activities intended to understand, inform, and influence foreign publics."

As former CIA Director Jim Woolsey and author Seth Leibsohn reported in October, after 15 months of vetting and receiving a top-secret security clearance, Jasser was informed that his name had been "removed from consideration" without any explanation. Senator Jon Kyl commented on the affair by saying that "the Obama administration has chosen to sideline Dr. Jasser."

After years of lecturing about empowering moderate Muslims through "outreach," including the White House's own Strategic Plan for Preventing Violent Extremism published earlier this month, time and again administrations of both parties have been bound and determined to reach out exclusively to Muslim Brotherhood front groups. These groups actively promote the very extremism the government "outreach" is intended to remedy. By bowing to pressure from these same organizations to block Zuhdi Jasser's appointment, not only has the Obama administration blinded policy makers to threats like the Muslim Brotherhood, but it has ensured that the radicalization and marginalization of the Muslim community continues unabated.

9) DOD official refuses to acknowledge the threat of radical Islam during hearing on terror threats to the U.S. military (December 10)

In one of the most comical, and equally tragic, interchanges in recent congressional history, during a joint Senate/House Homeland Security hearing on "Homegrown Terrorism: The Threat to Military Communities Inside the United States," Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Americas' Security Affairs Paul Stockton was asked by Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA), former attorney general of the state of California, on the source of the threat to America and its troops. The exchange proceeded as follows:

REPRESENTATIVE DANIEL LUNGREN (R-CA): Secretary Stockton, are we at war with violent Islamist extremism?

MR. STOCKTON: No, sir. We are at war with al-Qaeda, its affiliates --

REP. LUNGREN: OK, I understand that. My question is, is violent Islamist extremism at war with us?

MR. STOCKTON: No, sir. We are being attacked by al-Qaeda and its allies.

REP. LUNGREN: Is al-Qaeda -- can it be described as being an exponent of violent Islamist extremism?

MR. STOCKTON: They -- al-Qaeda are murderers with an ideological agenda --

REP. LUNGREN: No, I -- that’s not my question. That wasn’t my question. My question was, is al-Qaeda acting out violent Islamist extremism?

MR. STOCKTON: Al-Qaeda is a violent organization dedicated to overthrowing the values that we intend to advance --

REP. LUNGREN: So is it yes or no?

MR. STOCKTON: Can I hear the question again? I’ll make it as clear as I can. We are not at war with Islam. And it is not --

REP. LUNGREN: I didn’t ask that -- I did not ask that, sir. I asked whether we’re at war with violent Islamist extremism. That’s my question.

MR. STOCKTON: No, we’re at war with al-Qaeda and its affiliates.

It gets worse from there, as you can see in the video of the full exchange:

Predictably, Time magazine blogger Mark Thompson faulted Lungren for the surreal exchange, likening it to "Anti-Islamic Hyperventilation." Mind you, this is after:

  • Sgt. Hasan Karim Akbar killed two fellow soldiers and wounded 14 more in an ambush at an Army camp in Kuwait just days before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003;
  • Four Muslim converts were arrested for planning an attack on a California National Guard armory in August 2005;
  • Six Muslim men were caught planning and training for an attack on troops at Fort Dix in May 2007;
  • Four Muslim converts from New York were arrested while executing a terror plot that included bringing down military airplanes at Stewart Air National Guard Base in May 2009;
  • A Muslim convert and self-described jihadist, Carlos Bledsoe (aka Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad) gunned down Army Pvt. William Long and wounded Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula as the pair stood in front of an Army recruiting center in Little Rock in June 2009;
  • Seven Muslim men from North Carolina were arrested for plotting an attack on the Marine base at Quantico;
  • Major Nidal Hasan killed 13 and wounds 29 in a terror attack at Fort Hood in November 2009 after the Army had been warned about Hasan's contact with Al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki;
  • A Muslim immigrant, Arif Uka, opened fire on a bus carrying U.S. soldiers at the Frankfurt, Germany airport in March 2011, killing two soldiers;
  • Two Muslim converts were arrested for planning an attack on a Seattle-area military processing center in June 2011;
  • Pvt. Naser Jason Abdo was arrested and charged in July 2011 with planning a terror attack and compiling components for a bomb targeting Fort Hood just weeks after he had been granted conscientious objector status by the Army.

But to mention the painfully obvious connection between all these incidents is considered Islamophobic. As my colleague and former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy described the Stockton/Lungren exchange:

This is criminal recklessness. It is idiocy beyond description, so I should just stop trying to describe it. Watch it in all its jaw-dropping ignominy. Three and a half minutes -- although it will take you longer than that because you’ll need to watch it a few times in order to come to grips with the fact that it’s not a parody but the real thinking of top officials in the Defense Department and throughout the administration.

10) Vice President Joe Biden says Taliban is not our enemy just days before Taliban take credit for killing four U.S. soldiers (December 18)

In a wide-ranging interview with Newsweek last week, Joe Biden said that the "the Taliban per se is not our enemy," which launched a firestorm of criticism, including from the White House press corps. Internationally, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker was tasked with "clarifying" Biden's statement.

But Biden's comments came just a few days before the Taliban took credit for killing four U.S. soldiers with an IED. This year saw the second-highest number of U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan by the Taliban and its al-Qaeda allies. Included in that total are the 31 U.S. service members who were killed in the Taliban downing of a Chinook helicopter in August -- the largest number of casualties in Afghanistan in a single incident -- and the October suicide bombing of a bus carrying troops between bases, killing 13 Americans.

The vice president's statement is no doubt reflective of the Obama administration's ongoing negotiations with the Taliban, which have reportedly reached a critical stage. The discussions began earlier this year at the insistence of the late Richard Holbrooke, Obama's special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan. By June, administration officials were claiming success in the negotiations.

But two stories this week demonstrate the high cost, beyond the lost American lives, that such negotiations with the Taliban entail. This week it was reported that the mediator chosen by the U.S. government is Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yousef al-Qaradawi, the first major Sunni Islamic cleric to endorse the use of suicide bombings. He issued a fatwa in February 2003 permitting attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq, and even the abduction and killing of American civilians working in Iraq. The Anti-Defamation League describes Qaradawi as the "Theologian of Terror" for his justification of violence and rhetoric of hate. Yet this week we hear a report that "Egyptian-born Mr. al-Qaradawi is seen by both the United States and the Taliban traditionalists as an ally in the battle against the growing influence of this new generation of [hardline Taliban] commanders."

Another cost of negotiating with the Taliban is the pending release of high-risk Guantanamo detainee and senior Taliban commander Mohammed Fazl, who has been in U.S. custody since 2002. Fazl is accused of killing thousands of Shiite Muslims from 1998 to 2001. The U.S. has also agreed to the opening of a Taliban office in U.S.-ally Qatar.

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As I was preparing this "Not Top 10" list, I remembered the foreign policy catastrophe that was Jimmy Carter and 1979 (yes, I'm old enough to remember). But this sampling of Obama's "Not Top 10" -- taken from a list of more than three dozen items -- bodes ill for the Obama administration's actions in 2012. We may long for the heady days of Carter.