Former CIA Director John Brennan said new National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster is opposed to using the term “radical Islam” because “he recognizes that these bumper sticker terms, like radical Islam being responsible for terrorism, does more harm than good.”
McMaster reportedly told National Security Council staff in his first meeting with the team Thursday that “radical Islamic terrorism” is not a good way to describe terrorism because terrorists are behaving in an un-Islamic fashion. He also stressed that Russia is an adversary.
Brennan, who has eschewed the term “radical Islam,” said at a Washington forum in September that “the overwhelming majority, the 99.9 percent of Muslims do not support that type of violent agenda.”
“Yes, there may be some individuals who are considered to be radical within their Islamic faith or even extremist,” he said.
On Sunday, Brennan told CBS in his first interview since stepping down as head of the CIA that McMaster “has a stellar reputation, not just as a military officer and leader, but as a very, very thoughtful national security specialist.”
“And I think he recognizes that these bumper sticker terms, like radical Islam being responsible for terrorism, does more harm than good. You need to be precise. And it is one of the things that I think the president needs to realize is that, when he uses language, it has resonance around the world, not just with his constituent base here in the United States,” Brennan added.
“So, being much more disciplined in terms of the language that we use, I think, is something that is going to help our national security,” he said. “And General McMaster in his early days saying that that is an unhelpful phrase gives me even greater confidence that he is going to do what he needs to do as national security adviser, and hopefully be able to sway the thoughts and ideas and inclinations of some of the individuals who work with him in the White House complex.”
Brennan also disagreed with President Trump’s travel ban, noting “the vetting process that needs to go on has to take into account multiple factors, not just countries of origin or where they might be departing from.”
“I don’t think the travel ban is going to help in any significant way,” he said. “What they need to do is to, again, take into account all the various means that terrorist groups use to try to carry out attacks here in the homeland. And the cyber domain is the area where most of the terrorist groups now are operating in a very freewheeling fashion.”
“And so the efforts to incite and to encourage and to recruit via that cyber domain is something that the FBI and the intelligence agencies are very, very vigilant about,” Brennan added. “So, it may sound good to have a ban against individuals coming from certain countries, but you really need to take a look at what is truly going to mitigate the nature of the — and the scope of the terrorist threat that we face.”