At a Washington seminar on “the state of domestic intelligence reform” sponsored by the Bipartisan Policy Center yesterday, three members of the blue-ribbon group known as Team B II challenged prominent members of the U.S. intelligence community (“Team A”). Pointed questions were posed about the Obama administration’s understanding of the threat posed by shariah, the jihad it compels its adherents to pursue – through violent means, where practicable, and stealthy ones where that is not the case – and its outreach to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and groups engaged in the latter. The answers that were, at best, disappointing gobbledygook. Taken together, they confirmed Team B’s charges of official “willful blindness” (at best) in its recent report Shariah: The Threat to America.
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Among the participants in this half-day program were Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and FBI Director Robert Mueller. As with virtually all of the rest of a program devoted to “intelligence reform,” their prepared remarks were devoid of references to what is arguably the single most important reform needed at the moment: clarity about the enemy we face and what animates him, namely the politico-military-legal doctrine authorities of Islam call shariah.
The exchanges between Messrs. Clapper and Mueller and Team B II members Diana West, Christine Brim, and Frank Gaffney demonstrated just how far from comprehending the need for such reform, let alone undertaking it, the U.S. government is under its present homeland security management. The latter is led by the President’s Homeland Security Advisor, John Brennan, who reportedly effectively operates as the de facto Director of National Intelligence, as well.
Members of Team B have called for Brennan’s resignation for reasons illuminated in the following responses to questions about the wisdom of “Muslim outreach” programs that involve Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas operatives and the dumbing down of the intelligence community’s threat analysis so as to be “sensitive,” evidently to the information dominance being exercised by such operatives.
Q. Diana West, author and columnist for the Washington Examiner: “You mentioned the shortcomings of the watch-list system and also the dangers posed by domestic actors gaining access or exposure to our homeland security practices systems. Did you know that a known Hamas operative was invited by the FBI into a six-week training session , Sheikh Kefah Mustapha, and is that the kind of problem you’re talking about? What is your reaction to that?
A. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper: “Well, I think that the FBI will be here later, I think the FBI has – you can speak to them about that. But I do think there is merit frankly in outreach, to engage as much as possible with the Muslim community, I’ll acknowledge I don’t know the specifics of how this particular person was invited but I do think there’s great merit in such programs, and I do think there’ll be some FBI representatives here later who can speak specifically to that.”
Q. Christine Brim, Chief Operating Officer, Center for Security Policy: “In the 911 Commission Report, a number of terms were used including jihad and Islamic terrorism which subsequently had been removed from the parlance for both intelligence collection and intelligence analysis. The most recent example is the Fort Hood report, which mentioned not only none of those terms but did not even mention the name of the alleged shooter. John Brennan has come out recently essentially stating that the term ‘jihad’ cannot be used. Do you support that policy of banning factual terms from intelligence collection and intelligence analysis?”
A. DNI Clapper: “I support policies which acknowledge the sensitivities here, which acknowledge what I would consider sort of the positive aspects of the Muslim religion. We have millions of people in this country who are practitioners of the Muslim religion and I think we in intelligence need to be sensitive to those terms. There’s plenty of terminology out there we can use that conveys the meaning and the message that we need to.”
Q. Frank Gaffney, President, Center for Security Policy: “…We’ve recently published a study we call the Team B II study, it’s available at www.Shariahthethreat.com. It talks about Shariah as fundamental to the enemy that we’re dealing with here today. We’ve heard much this morning and even in your speech about the threat of the violent kind of jihad that Shariah compels.
“Missing almost entirely has been the stealth jihad and you spoke in your remarks about the importance of outreach to the community of rebuilding trust in the FBI. I’m more worried frankly about the trust the FBI is reposing in some in the community, specifically really relying on the Muslim Brotherhood front organizations that the government itself has identified [as sycg — as vehicles for outreach. And I just wondered, especially when we see the Kifah Mustapha affair, at the citizen’s academy, whether this isn’t really a problem that requires a sort of revisit, the second opinion that we’ve provided and would welcome your thoughts on the stealthy jihad.”
A. FBI Director Robert Mueller: “Let me start by saying I think it’s a delicate issue. And it’s dependent on individuals. There quite obviously not just say simply the Muslim American, Arab American, Sikh American communities are individuals who may be under investigation and who may be participating in supporting terrorism and we have to assure that we identify and understand those persons and to the extent that they step over the line that they’re indicted and prosecuted. On the other hand, it’s tremendously important for us to develop relationships with the 99.9% of the Muslim community, Arab American community, Sikh community that are every bit as patriotic as everybody in this room. And, I say it’s a delicate issue because you have to identify the various concerns that these communities have and as well make certain that in those instances where you have some belief that the person has stepped over the line that you are not including that individual in that outreach effort.”
Q. Diana West: “…I just wanted to follow up on the question I’ve asked almost everyone I’ve spoken to today which has to do with the Kefah Mustapha incident coming in with the citizen’s academy. Kefah Mustapha being an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial and also a Hamas operative. Everyone has told me, talk to the FBI, including director Clapper….”
A. FBI Director Mueller: “You know I did get some briefing before. And I knew this question might come. So let me tell you that I understand the concern. I’m not sure I agree with the predicate to your question or the assertions you make in the context of the question, and we’re not going to debate it here. Let me tell you that citizen’s academies we carry on throughout the country in every one of our offices. They have been a terrific tool for exposing the FBI to a variety of communities.
“I will tell you that we look at the background of individuals that participate in citizens academies. I might also add that what the citizen’s academies are exposed to, are how we do business, not necessarily the facts or the investigations that we may be handling. So, I’m not going to talk about any particular individual but I can tell you that that portion of our outreach is tremendously important and we do look into the individuals that we invite into the citizen’s academies.”
Such comments by prominent members of Team A underscore not only the urgent need for intelligence reform that goes beyond the virtually exclusive focus of yesterday’s seminar — how those responsible for keeping us safe organize themselves and the balance to be struck between the need for intelligence collection, on the one hand, and privacy rights and civil liberties, on the other.
The Clapper and Mueller responses make clear the necessity of a significant course-correction with respect to the U.S. government’s understanding and characterization of the threat – and ending its embrace, in the name of being “sensitive” to Muslims, of some of the prime movers behind that threat’s stealthy manifestation here in the United States: the Muslim Brotherhood’s “civilization jihad.” A good place to start would be with the resignation of John Brennan.