While Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton fought hard against officially designating the Islamists of Boko Haram as a terror group–placing her in the camp of far-left activist group MoveOn.org.
Josh Rogin at The Daily Beast reports that other agencies in the Obama Administration were frustrated by Clinton’s stonewalling on the issue:
[Clinton’s] own State Department refused to place Boko Haram on the list of foreign terrorist organizations in 2011, after the group bombed the U.N. headquarters in Abuja. The refusal came despite the urging of the Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA, and over a dozen senators and congressmen.
“The one thing she could have done, the one tool she had at her disposal, she didn’t use. And nobody can say she wasn’t urged to do it. It’s gross hypocrisy,” said a former senior U.S. official who was involved in the debate. “The FBI, the CIA, and the Justice Department really wanted Boko Haram designated, they wanted the authorities that would provide to go after them, and they voiced that repeatedly to elected officials.”
The African terror outfit is again in the news last month by kidnapping and selling into sexual slavery upwards of 250 Nigerian girls. The group did this because these girls dared to go to school and gain an education, something Islamic fundamentalists oppose. The name “Boko Haram” means “Western education is sinful.”
Clinton, between myriad campaign-esque public appearances nationwide, released a statement this week saying that the abduction of the girls by the Islamist terror group was “abominable, it’s criminal, it’s an act of terrorism and it really merits the fullest response possible, first and foremost from the government of Nigeria.”
Clinton did not explain why she opposed putting Boko Haram on the list of terrorist organizations in 2011 when she was Secretary of State.
A 2012 petition hosted by MoveOn.org may illuminate the rationale behind Hillary’s reluctance. The goal of the petition, posted by self-proclaimed Africa expert William Minter, was to convince President Obama not to call Boko Haram a terrorist group.
The petition called designating Boko Haram a terror group a “counterproductive mistake with far-reaching negative consequences for both Americans and Nigerians.”
In the explanation of why it was “counterproductive,” the petition said that giving Boko Haram the legitimacy of being called a terror group would actually help the terrorists.
Designating them as official terrorists, the petition says, “would increase rather than diminish the threat from Boko Haram. It would give the group additional visibility and credibility among international terrorist networks. It would increase the chances that the group would direct its attacks against U.S. targets.”
Then, in classic blame-the-victim mode, the petition then claimed that it would only “reinforce militarization” of the Nigerian government as it sought to respond to the terrorists.
After Hillary left the State Department, in November of 2013 her successor, John Kerry, finally did put the group on the official U.S. terror list.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org