“Unfortunately you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all of our problems,” President Barack Obama told students at Ohio State on May 5.
Some of these same voices do their best to gum up the works. They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because what they suggest is that our brave and creative and unique experiment in self rule is somehow just a sham with which we can’t be trusted.
Over the ensuing three weeks, a series of overlapping scandals has provided evidence that President Obama and his team are indeed a sinister entity that can’t be trusted: the Benghazi conspiracy, the response to the Boston bombings, the “inadvertent” IRS targeting of conservative groups, the seizure of AP journalists’ phone records under the guise of “homeland security,” the Justice Department’s seizure of FOX News reporter James Rosen’s e-mails in violation of his First Amendment rights, the illegal presidential recess appointments to federal agencies, and the soliciting of pro-ObamaCare donations from the executives of HHS-regulated industries by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.
The behavior of the administration regarding Benghazi and Boston has critical implications for the national security of the United States. It is now evident that the State Department and the White House did their utmost to conceal the true nature of the attack in which Amb. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in Benghazi last September 11. It was a brazen act of Islamic terrorism, carried out by hard-core jihadists, but the administration was loath to admit that its former Libyan protégés were the culprits and that the State Department was negligent in providing adequate protection to its staffers. The result was an elaborate, conspiratorial subterfuge.
The ploy entailed penalizing a senior career diplomat—Gregory Hicks, the deputy mission chief in Tripoli—who refused to go along with the administration’s false claim that the attack was the result of a spontaneous demonstration triggered by an “anti-Islamic” video posted on YouTube. On May 9 Hicks testified before the House Oversight Committee that he called an acting assistant secretary to dispute Susan Rice’s claim—made on Meet the Press and other Sunday news shows five days after the attack—that the outrage in Benghazi was caused by the video. He said he was “stunned” by the claim, because he knew that the video was actually a “nonevent” in Libya. “My jaw dropped,” he said. “I was embarrassed.” Hicks was immediately rebuked for his misgivings and told to fall in line. He got a call from Beth Jones, an acting assistant secretary to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, telling him to stop doubting Washington’s stance that the attack was spurred by a protest: “The sense I got is that I needed to stop my line of questioning.” All efforts to get military help to the consulate were rebuffed, according to Hicks, and Special Forces in Tripoli wanting to fly to Benghazi were “furious.”
Within weeks, Hicks’ performance was censured by his superiors; he received a “blistering critique” of his management style. Thus, he was punished not for speaking out—Hicks had remained silent until the hearing—but for doing his job. He has also revealed that Cheryl Mills, Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff, told him that he could not speak to Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who went to Libya on a fact-finding mission, unless a State Department attorney was present. Hicks called the attorney “the minder,” specifically sent to monitor what was being said to the visiting congressman.
Mark Thompson, undersecretary at State’s counterterrorism bureau, provided evidence that supported Hicks’ account. He testified that the Foreign Emergency Support Team (FEST) was not allowed to respond to the attack, although FEST was specifically created for such emergencies.
Contrary to the White House claim that the administration was applying “all the resources” at its disposal to bring the Benghazi attackers to justice, military sources accused it on May 21 of failing to act against those responsible. “They have let it slip by because of politics, and now we’ve taken all the correlation we had and dropped the ball because of risk (aversion)—and now the security in Libya is more fragile than ever,” a Special Forces officer in North Africa told FOX News. The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that U.S. forces had tracked the alleged attackers since October but have since lost the trail of some of them, as no one up the chain of command would authorize them to capture or kill the targeted militia members.
Following Hicks’ and Thompson’s testimony, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) asked the White House and State Department to release any e-mails related to the attack that House committees were able to see, but not keep or share, during their investigation. A hundred pages of e-mails were released on May 15, confirming that the administration changed the initial CIA characterization of the attack—terrorism—for political reasons. Four days before Susan Rice went on the Sunday news shows to claim that the attack was the result of a spontaneous demonstration, a frantic exchange of messages between the White House and State Department officials resulted in the removal of all references to terrorism.
Contrary to administration claims that the mistaken description of the nature of the attack reflected “the best intelligence at the time,” the talking points that led to Susan Rice’s statement were revised 12 times and resulted in a systematic removal of factual information. Early drafts contained references to Al Qaeda, but they were later scrubbed on the insistence of State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland. Then-CIA Director David Petraeus voiced surprise when he learned, three days after the attack, that officials had deleted all references to Al Qaeda and jihadists, leaving only the word “extremists.”
The revelations made a mockery of White House Press Secretary Jay Carney’s assertion that “what we said and what remains true to this day is that the intelligence community drafted and redrafted these points,” and that “the only edits made by anyone here at the White House were stylistic and non-substantive.” They also belied State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell’s claim that Rice’s comments were based on the intelligence community’s “best assessment that there was not any evidence of months-long pre-planning or pre-meditation, which remains their assessment.”
This was no mere spinmaster’s misrepresentation; it was and is a lie.
The truth of the matter is that the President and his team remain hellbent on constructing friendly jihadists abroad, and on denying the jihadist link to terrorist threats at home. Obama’s bizarre reaction to the Boston bombings in April is telling. Loath to imply a Muslim connection, he initially refused to use the word terrorism. Of course, the most important fact about the attack is that it was an act of Islamic terrorism: The attackers’ defining feature is that they are Muslims, but the Obama administration makes a serious antijihadist strategy less likely now than at any time since September 11. The chief culprit is Obama himself, who over the past four years has banned the use of the words Muslim and Islam in official American discourse on terrorism. By mandating the Orwellian disconnect, he and his officials are effectively aiding and abetting the enemy—as manifested in the Department of Defense’s classification of Major Hasan’s Ft. Hood murders as “workplace violence.”
The consequences of the Department of Homeland Security’s current antiterrorism training guidelines, which pressure law-enforcement officers to ignore the Islamic faith of potential suspects when investigating terror crimes, are obvious. Under the federal guidelines, agents are admonished to discount the possibility that a Muslim’s constitutionally protected disdain for the United States might lead to violence. Andrew McCarthy, the former New York prosecutor who secured the conviction of “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel-Rahman in 1995, notes that the Boston attack was carried out by a jihadist who had been investigated by the FBI and was confirmed in 2011 to be a self-avowed Islamist—yet before the bombing, the FBI closed its file because it found this did not constitute “derogatory information” on Tamerlan Tsarnaev. We now know that FBI operatives were alerted by their Russian colleagues to Tsarnaev’s subsequent indoctrination journey to the Caucasus, yet they did not restart their 2011 investigation.
Obama rejects the obvious, that jihad is a threat—as evidenced most recently by the murder of a British soldier by two machete-wielding Muslims in London on May 22—and that it can never be controlled by focusing on causes external to Islam itself. The attacks in Boston (and dozens of others, here and abroad) were not an aberration from Islam’s alleged peace and tolerance, but a predictable consequence of the ideology of jihad. Obama sees this assessment as illegitimate today and punishable under some new “hate speech” statute tomorrow. His is a scandalously irresponsible position, certain to cost more lives in the years to come. We have the most jihad-friendly government the non-Muslim world has ever known.
It is unlikely that any one of the Obama administration’s high crimes and misdemeanors will bring down this presidency, although some exceed Watergate in legal gravity and are infinitely more serious in consequences. Still, Obama’s rapid de-Teflonization does have the potential to limit his ability to do all the bad things that he wants to do over the next three-and-a-half years. A true opposition party would take note of, and exploit, the erosion of Obama’s credibility, but there is no meaningful opposition in Washington. Instead, the Republican leadership has caved in on the immigration amnesty bill, while predictably faltering on abortion, affirmative action, and “gay marriage.”
The social and political potential for a belated backlash still exists among the more than one third of Americans who consider themselves conservative. Developing that potential would require a new movement with new leaders, aware of the need for the spiritual and moral renewal on which any meaningful political transformation must be based.