The Democrats’ Likely Nominee Appears To Be A Felon – This Is Not Business As Usual (Andrew C. McCarthy)

The Democrats’ Likely Nominee Appears To Be A Felon… This Is Not Business As Usual – Andrew C. McCarthy

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Competing Democrats debate each other one night. Republican rivals take their shots at each other a couple of nights later. An air of frenetic normalcy sets over primary season: The country is $20 trillion in the red and under heightened terrorist threat, yet pols bicker over the legacy of Henry Kissinger and the chameleon nature of Donald Trump – another liability the mogul is marketing as an asset. It is business as usual.

Except nothing about the 2016 campaign is business as usual.

For all the surreal projection of normalcy, the race is enveloped by an extremely serious criminal investigation. If press reporting is to be believed – in particular, the yeoman’s work of Fox News’s Catherine Herridge and Pamela K. Browne – Hillary Clinton, the likely nominee of one of the two major parties, appears to have committed serious felony violations of federal law.

That she has the audacity to run despite the circumstances is no surprise – Clinton scandals, the background music of our politics for a quarter-century, are interrupted only by new Clinton scandals. What is shocking is that the Democrats are allowing her to run.

For some Democrats, alas, any criminality by the home team is immaterial. A couple of weeks back, The Donald bragged, as is his wont, that he “could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” Trump was kidding (at least, I think he was). Unfortunately, the statement might have been true had it sprung from Mrs. Clinton’s lips.

In a Democratic party dominated by the hard Left, the power Left, what matters is keeping Republicans out of the White House, period. Democrats whored themselves for Bill through the Nineties, seemingly unembarrassed over the lie it put to their soaring tropes about women’s rights, good government, getting money out of politics, etc. They will close ranks around Hillary, too. After all, if she was abusing power while advancing the cause of amassing power – er, I mean, the cause of social justice – what’s the harm?

More-centrist Democrats realize there could be great harm, but they seem paralyzed. The American people, they know, are not the hard Left: If Mrs. Clinton is permitted to keep plodding on toward the nomination only to be indicted after she has gotten it, the party’s chances of holding on to the White House probably disappear. By then, there may not be time to organize a national campaign with a suitable candidate (as opposed to a goofy 74-year-old avowed socialist).

So these Democrats play Russian roulette: hopefully assuming that the FBI won’t dare recommend criminal charges with the stakes so high; that the Obama Justice Department won’t prosecute if charges are recommended; that Obama will figure out a way to intervene with a pardon that won’t do Clinton too much damage, and that the public can be spun into thinking an investigation led by Obama appointees and career law-enforcement officers is somehow a Vast-Right-Wing-Conspiracy plot dreamt up by Republicans.

Many of these Democrats know that the right thing to do for their party – and country – is to demand that Mrs. Clinton step aside. They also know that if they do the right thing, and Clinton wins anyway, there will be vengeance – Hillary being the vengeful sort. So mum’s the word.

Their silence will not change the facts.

To take the simplest of many apparent national-security violations, it is a felony for a person “being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any… information relating to the national defense” to permit that information “through gross negligence… to be removed from its proper place of custody” or to be “delivered to anyone in violation of his trust” (Section 793(f) of Title 18, U.S. Code).

Mrs. Clinton was entrusted with national-defense information and knew that working with such classified intelligence was a substantial part of her duties as secretary of state. Despite this knowledge, she willfully, and against government rules, set up a private, non-secure e-mail communication system for all of her government-related correspondence – making it inevitable that classified matters would be discussed on the system. This was gross negligence at best. And the easily foreseeable result is that classified intelligence was removed from its secure government repository and transmitted to persons not entitled to have it – very likely including foreign intelligence services that almost certainly penetrated Mrs. Clinton’s non-secure system.

The penalty for violating this penal statute is up to ten years’ imprisonment for each individual violation. Mind you, there are already 1,600 reported instances of classified information being transmitted via the Clinton server system, and the latest indications are that at least twelve, and as many as 30, private e-mail accounts are known to have trafficked in our nation’s defense secrets. Many of these account holders were certainly not cleared for access to the information – and none of them was permitted to access it in a non-secure setting.

Fox has also reported that the FBI has expanded its investigation to possible public-corruption offenses – the cozy connections between the State Department, the Clinton Foundation, and Clinton-connected businesses; the question whether Clinton Foundation donors received favorable treatment in government contracts. Such allegations could fill a book. Indeed, investigative journalist Peter Schweizer has written just such a book: Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich.

It’s a hair-raising story, but corruption cases are tough to prove. Comparatively, classified-information offenses are straightforward: There is a paper trail and secret intelligence either ended up someplace it was not supposed to be or it didn’t. Corruption cases, by contrast, can involve complex transactions and the gray area between grimy political deals and actionable quid pro quo. They hinge on proving the state of mind of the players, which can be challenging.

So I want to pass over that for now and think about something rarely mentioned in the Clinton caper: the unknown e-mails. What has been revealed about Mrs. Clinton’s disclosed e-mails has been so shocking that we often forget: There are 30,000 other e-mails that she attempted to destroy. We do not know what’s in them, so it is only natural that we have focused instead on what is knowable – the e-mails that have been disclosed. But there have been media reports that the FBI, to which Mrs. Clinton finally surrendered her private servers some months ago, has been able to retrieve many of the “deleted” e-mails, perhaps even all of them.

Mrs. Clinton told us she destroyed these e-mails because they were private and unrelated to government business. Basically we are to believe that one of the busiest, highest-ranking officials in our government had time to send tens of thousands of e-mails that were strictly about yoga routines, her daughter’s bridesmaids’ dresses, and the like. This, from the same Mrs. Clinton who looked us in the eye and insisted that none of her e-mails contained classified information.

Anyone want to join me in indulging the possibility that many of the deleted e-mails involve government business?

I ask because, wholly apart from any classified information crimes, there is another penal law defining an offense that is very easy to prove: the federal embezzlement statute (Section 641 of Title 18, U.S. Code). This provision targets anyone who, among other things,
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embezzles, steals, purloins, or knowingly converts to his use…, or without authority… conveys or disposes of any record… of the United States or of any department or agency thereof…; or …conceals, or retains the same with intent to convert it to his use… knowing it to have been embezzled, stolen, purloined or converted.

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As with the afore-described crime of mishandling classified information, the penalty for violating this statute is up to ten years’ imprisonment for each instance of theft.

To the extent Mrs. Clinton’s e-mails involved government business, they were not private – they were government records. When she left the State Department, however, she took these government records with her: She didn’t tell anyone she had them, and she converted them to her own use – preventing the government from complying with lawful Freedom of Information Act disclosure demands, congressional inquiries, and government-disclosure obligations in judicial proceedings, as well as undermining the State Department’s reliance on the completeness of its recordkeeping in performing its crucial functions.

I believe that Clinton has already violated the embezzlement law with respect to the 30,000 e-mails she finally surrendered to the State Department nearly two years after leaving. But for argument’s sake, let’s give her a pass on those. Let’s consider only the 30,000 e-mails that she withheld and attempted to destroy but that the FBI has reportedly recovered. Does anyone really doubt that this mountain of e-mail contains State Department-related communications – i.e., government files?

In a better time, responsible Democrats would already have disqualified Mrs. Clinton on the quaint notion that fitness for the nation’s highest office means something more than the ability to evade indictment for one’s sleazy doings. But now we have a candidate who may not – and should not – be able to meet even that lowly standard. No self-respecting political party would permit her to run. Obviously, a plea to do the right thing is not a winning appeal to today’s Democrats. But what are we left with if appeals to self-interest also fall on deaf ears?

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Refugee ‘Religious Test’ Is ‘Shameful’ And ‘Not American’… Except That Federal Law Requires It (Andrew C. McCarthy)

Refugee ‘Religious Test’ Is ‘Shameful’ And ‘Not American’… Except That Federal Law Requires It – Andrew C. McCarthy

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As I argued in Faithless Execution, the principal constitutional duty of the chief executive is to execute the laws faithfully. President Obama, by contrast, sees his principal task as imposing his post-American “progressive” preferences, regardless of what the laws mandate.

In his latest harangue against Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and other Americans opposed to his insistence on continuing to import thousands of Muslim refugees from Syria and other parts of the jihad-ravaged Middle East, Obama declaimed:
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When I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted… that’s shameful… That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.

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Really? Under federal law, the executive branch is expressly required to take religion into account in determining who is granted asylum. Under the provision governing asylum (section 1158 of Title 8, U.S. Code), an alien applying for admission
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must establish that… religion [among other things]… was or will be at least one central reason for persecuting the applicant.

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Moreover, to qualify for asylum in the United States, the applicant must be a “refugee” as defined by federal law. That definition (set forth in Section 1101(a)(42)(A) of Title , U.S. Code) also requires the executive branch to take account of the alien’s religion:
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The term “refugee” means (A) any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality… and who is unable or unwilling to return to… that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of… religion [among other things]… [.]

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The law requires a “religious test.” And the reason for that is obvious. Asylum law is not a reflection of the incumbent president’s personal (and rather eccentric) sense of compassion. Asylum is a discretionary national act of compassion that is directed, by law not whim, to address persecution.

There is no right to emigrate to the United States. And the fact that one comes from a country or territory ravaged by war does not, by itself, make one an asylum candidate. War, regrettably, is a staple of the human condition. Civil wars are generally about power. That often makes them violent and, for many, tragic; but it does not necessarily make them wars in which one side is persecuting the other side.

In the case of this war, the Islamic State is undeniably persecuting Christians. It is doing so, moreover, as a matter of doctrine. Even those Christians the Islamic State does not kill, it otherwise persecutes as called for by its construction of sharia (observe, for example, the ongoing rape jihad and sexual slavery).’

To the contrary, the Islamic State seeks to rule Muslims, not kill or persecute them. Obama prefers not to dwell on the distinction between the jihadist treatment of Muslims, on the one hand, and of Christians, Jews and other religions, on the other hand, because he – like much of Washington – inhabits a world in which jihadists are not Islamic and, therefore, have no common ground with other Muslims… notwithstanding that jihadists emerge whenever and wherever a population of sharia-adherent Muslims reaches critical mass. But this is sheer fantasy. While there is no question that ISIS will kill and persecute Muslims whom it regards as apostates for refusing to adhere to its construction of Islam, it is abject idiocy to suggest that Muslims are facing the same ubiquity and intensity of persecution as Christians.

And it is downright dishonest to claim that taking such religious distinctions into account is “not American,” let alone “shameful.” How can something American law requires be “not American”? And how can a national expression of compassion expressly aimed at alleviating persecution be “shameful”?

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Yes On Trade Promotion Authority… Which Does Not Mean Yes On The Trans Pacific Partnership (Andrew C. McCarthy)

Yes On Trade Promotion Authority… Which Does Not Mean Yes On The Trans Pacific Partnership – Andrew C. McCarthy

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TPA is “Trade Promotion Authority” legislation currently being considered by Congress. TPP is the “Trans-Pacific Partnership,” the pact the Obama administration is currently negotiating with several Asia Pacific nations. As the editors point out today, the two are not one and the same and they should not be conflated.

The rationale that, because President Obama abuses executive authority, he should be denied any tool that enhances executive authority is a worthy rule of thumb. But its premise is that executive authority is actually being enhanced in a manner that Congress cannot check. That, as our editorial explains, is simply not true when it comes to TPA.

The contention that TPA is unconstitutional is meritless. In our system, as Jefferson put it, “the transaction of business with foreign nations is executive altogether,” and “exceptions are to be strictly construed.” In the case of trade agreements, those exceptions include the Senate’s power over the approval of treaties and the powers of Congress over both foreign commerce and any legislation necessary to implement a trade agreement. TPA is not only fully compliant with, but reinforcing of, this constitutional arrangement.

Foreign countries should not be made to negotiate with both the president and Congress in striking a deal. It is enough for them to know (as Senator Tom Cotton outlined in connection with President Obama’s Iran deal) that any agreement the president makes is subject to congressional approval if it is to have the force of law. Since the point of a trade agreement is to structure a legal framework for international commerce, we must thus infer that the countries negotiating such a deal want a workable legal structure. Our constitutional division of authorities between the president and Congress gives foreign nations an incentive not to press for terms the president will not be able to sell at home – thus strengthening the president’s negotiating position.

Meanwhile, whether the international agreement in question is deemed a treaty or an agreement requiring implementing legislation, Congress gets the final say on whether the agreement is approved.

To claim that this deprives Congress of its ability to shape the deal is as specious as claiming that the president’s limited power to sign or veto legislation deprives him of the ability to shape congressional statutes. In our system, the president gets to negotiate deals with other nations; if Congress does not like the deal – if it concludes that the bad outweighs the good – lawmakers can and should vote “no,” sending the president back to the drawing board. That is how it is supposed to work.

To my mind, there is no more promiscuous practice in the formulation of multilateral agreements than the Senate’s addition of caveats and reservations to rationalize approving objectionable treaties. The way the international law game gets played, these caveats and reservations get marginalized and the “law” becomes the unadorned text of the treaty accepted by the signatory nations. That is, the treaty in effect becomes the agreement as signed by the president, not the ratified agreement the Senate thought it had successfully amended. We would be much better off if, instead of deluding itself with caveats and reservations, the Senate refused to ratify the treaty, forcing the president to either abandon the agreement or go back to the negotiating table and fight for acceptance of the Senate’s demands.

It is the same thing with multilateral agreements that are not regarded as treaties. There should be a clear international agreement that Congress can either approve or reject. To contort the agreement with legislative caveats injects ambiguity into the duties and benefits the negotiating nations believed they were agreeing to. Moreover, it probably won’t work: Within a short time, the international law professors will tell us that the text of the original agreement – not the agreement as Congress amended it – has transmogrified into binding international law… and the State Department will say we really have no choice but to accept the consensus of “the international community.”

Better to let the president make the agreements and let Congress say “yes” or “no” – and be ready to say “no,” not con itself into thinking it can materially improve a bad deal.

Finally, as the editorial elucidates, agreeing to TPA is not agreeing to TPP.

I confess to being troubled by reports about the secrecy in which TPP negotiations and drafts have been shrouded, although these reports may be overwrought – something I’ll address in a subsequent post. If there is, in fact, a lack of sufficient transparency on TPP, it makes perfect sense for lawmakers to condition support for TPA on better transparency. That kind of leveraging is a routine part of the legislative process. It is also especially appropriate when dealing with a president who has a long record of mendacity, lawlessness, and the exploitation of complex legal arrangements to reward cronies.

Nevertheless, if we assume for argument’s sake that TPP is a bad deal, that would be a good reason to vote down TPP. It would not be a good reason to oppose TPA.

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Related article:

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The Secrecy Complaints About TPP Are Also Meritless – Andrew C. McCarthy

In yesterday’s post, I argued – in agreement with NR’s editorial – that it is a mistake to conflate (a) the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact that the Obama administration is still negotiating with (b) Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation that would grant the president the ability to seek an up-or-down vote from Congress on trade deals (including TPP) on a reasonably swift time frame. TPA is a good idea, is fully constitutional, and would not prevent Congress from rejecting a bad trade deal – which is exactly what Congress should do in the case of TPP if it turns out to be a bad deal. In a column on the homepage today, I examine another objection TPP opponents raise: the purported secrecy in which the agreement is shrouded. As readers will see, this objection is a red herring which confuses the draft agreement (the work in progress that the administration has made available to Congress under restrictive terms while it conducts the sensitive negotiations) with the final agreement (which will be available to both the public and Congress long before Congress is asked to vote on TPP legislation).

As today’s column relates:

There is no requirement for the executive branch to show Congress anything that is preliminary. The only agreement that is going to be voted on is the final agreement – at least if Obama wants that agreement to have the force of American law.

Significantly, with respect to that final agreement – which, to repeat, does not exist yet – the transparency protocols are apparently extensive. According to AEI’s Claude Barfield, the legislation will provide that the actual text of the final TPP agreement must be available not just to Congress but to the public for 60 days before the president is permitted to sign it. After that, if he wants the agreement to have the force of American law, the president must formally submit the final agreement to Congress, which would then have 90 days to review and vote on it.

That is, the supposedly “secret” TPP may not be approved until the public and our representatives in Congress have five months to scrutinize it.

If Dr. Barfield is correct, and I have found nothing to suggest otherwise, then the complaints about a secret deal being rammed through Congress and foisted on an unsuspecting public – à la Obamacare – are risible.

The full column is here.

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*VIDEO* 2015 Defeat Jihad Summit: Center For Security Policy – Featuring Serious Adults (E.G. No Leftists)


Participants In Order Of Appearance:

* President Of The ‘Center For Security Policy’ Frank Gaffney
* Former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey
* William Boykin (Lieutenant General – U.S. Army, Ret.)
* British Lord Malcolm Pearson
* Representative Scott Perry (Brigadier General – Pennsylvania Army National Guard)
* Former FBI Special Agent John Guandolo (Second Lieutenant – U.S. Marine Corps, Ret.)
* Former Westchester County Court Judge Jeanine Pirro
* Former Federal Prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy
* Syndicated Columnist Diana West
* ‘Americans For Peace And Tolerance’ President Charles Jacobs
* Former Department Of Defense Inspector General Joseph Schmitz (Captain – U.S. Navy, Ret.)
* ‘American Freedom Law Center’ Co-Founder David Yerushalmi
* ‘Claremont Institute’ President Brian Kennedy
* Former Senior CIA Clandestine Operations Officer Clare Lopez
* Former Joint Chiefs Of Staff Intelligence Analyst Stephen Coughlin (Major – U.S. Army Reserves)
* ‘Institute Of World Politics’ Professor J. Michael Waller
* Pastor Rick Joyner
* Rabbi Jonathan Hausman
* James Lyons (Admiral – U.S. Navy, Ret.)
* Representative Mike Pompeo (Captain – U.S. Army, Ret.)
* Senator Ted Cruz
* Representative Steve King
* Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich
* ‘Center For Security Policy’ Director Of State Legislative Outreach Tommy Waller (Major – U.S Marine Corps Reserves)
* American Airlines Flight 77 Pilot Charles Burlingame’s Sister Debra Burlingame
* ‘Former Muslims United’ Director Nonie Darwish
* ‘American Islamic Forum’ President Zuhdi Jasser M.D. (Lieutenant Commander – U.S. Navy, Ret.)
* Dutch ‘Party For Freedom’ Founder Geert Wilders
* Australian Pastor Mark Durie
* Former Israeli Ambassador To The U.S. Yoram Ettinger
* ‘International Free Press Society’ President Lars Hedegaard
* ‘American Freedom Law Center’ Co-Founder Robert Muise (Major – U.S. Marine Corps, Ret.)
* Former CIA Analyst Frederick Fleitz
* ‘National Religious Broadcasters Association’ President Jerry Johnson
* 9/11 Survivor Deborah Weiss
* Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal
* Former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra

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ENTIRE EVENT

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Click HERE to visit the Center For Security Policy’s Defeat Jihad Summit page.

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The Khorosan Group Does Not Exist (Andrew C. McCarthy)

The Khorosan Group Does Not Exist – Andrew C. McCarthy

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We’re being had. Again.

For six years, President Obama has endeavored to will the country into accepting two pillars of his alternative national-security reality. First, he claims to have dealt decisively with the terrorist threat, rendering it a disparate series of ragtag jayvees. Second, he asserts that the threat is unrelated to Islam, which is innately peaceful, moderate, and opposed to the wanton “violent extremists” who purport to act in its name.

Now, the president has been compelled to act against a jihad that has neither ended nor been “decimated.” The jihad, in fact, has inevitably intensified under his counterfactual worldview, which holds that empowering Islamic supremacists is the path to security and stability. Yet even as war intensifies in Iraq and Syria – even as jihadists continue advancing, continue killing and capturing hapless opposition forces on the ground despite Obama’s futile air raids – the president won’t let go of the charade.

Hence, Obama gives us the Khorosan Group.

The who?

There is a reason that no one had heard of such a group until a nanosecond ago, when the “Khorosan Group” suddenly went from anonymity to the “imminent threat” that became the rationale for an emergency air war there was supposedly no time to ask Congress to authorize.

You haven’t heard of the Khorosan Group because there isn’t one. It is a name the administration came up with, calculating that Khorosan – the Iranian-​Afghan border region – had sufficient connection to jihadist lore that no one would call the president on it.

The “Khorosan Group” is al-Qaeda. It is simply a faction within the global terror network’s Syrian franchise, “Jabhat al-Nusra.” Its leader, Mushin al-Fadhli (believed to have been killed in this week’s U.S.-led air strikes), was an intimate of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the emir of al-Qaeda who dispatched him to the jihad in Syria. Except that if you listen to administration officials long enough, you come away thinking that Zawahiri is not really al-Qaeda, either. Instead, he’s something the administration is at pains to call “core al-Qaeda.”

“Core al-Qaeda,” you are to understand, is different from “Jabhat al-Nusra,” which in turn is distinct from “al-Qaeda in Iraq” (formerly “al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia,” now the “Islamic State” al-Qaeda spin-off that is, itself, formerly “al-Qaeda in Iraq and al-Sham” or “al-Qaeda in Iraq and the Levant”). That al-Qaeda, don’t you know, is a different outfit from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula… which, of course, should never be mistaken for “al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb,” “Boko Haram,” “Ansar al-Sharia,” or the latest entry, “al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent.”

Coming soon, “al-Qaeda on Hollywood and Vine.” In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if, come 2015, Obama issued an executive order decreeing twelve new jihad jayvees stretching from al-Qaeda in January through al-Qaeda in December.

Except you’ll hear only about the jayvees, not the jihad. You see, there is a purpose behind this dizzying proliferation of names assigned to what, in reality, is a global network with multiple tentacles and occasional internecine rivalries.

As these columns have long contended, Obama has not quelled our enemies; he has miniaturized them. The jihad and the sharia supremacism that fuels it form the glue that unites the parts into a whole – a worldwide, ideologically connected movement rooted in Islamic scripture that can project power on the scale of a nation-state and that seeks to conquer the West. The president does not want us to see the threat this way.

For a product of the radical Left like Obama, terrorism is a regrettable but understandable consequence of American arrogance. That it happens to involve Muslims is just the coincidental fallout of Western imperialism in the Middle East, not the doctrinal command of a belief system that perceives itself as engaged in an inter-civilizational conflict. For the Left, America has to be the culprit. Despite its inbred pathologies, which we had no role in cultivating, Islam must be the victim, not the cause. As you’ll hear from Obama’s Islamist allies, who often double as Democrat activists, the problem is “Islamophobia,” not Muslim terrorism.

This is a gross distortion of reality, so the Left has to do some very heavy lifting to pull it off. Since the Islamic-supremacist ideology that unites the jihadists won’t disappear, it has to be denied and purged. The “real” jihad becomes the “internal struggle to become a better person.” The scriptural and scholarly underpinnings of Islamic supremacism must be bleached out of the materials used to train our national-security agents, and the instructors who resist going along with the program must be ostracized. The global terror network must be atomized into discrete, disconnected cells moved to violence by parochial political or territorial disputes, with no overarching unity or hegemonic ambition. That way, they can be limned as a manageable law-enforcement problem fit for the courts to address, not a national-security challenge requiring the armed forces.

The president has been telling us for years that he handled al-Qaeda by killing bin Laden. He has been telling us for weeks that the Islamic State – an al-Qaeda renegade that will soon reconcile with the mother ship for the greater good of unity in the anti-American jihad – is a regional nuisance that posed no threat to the United States. In recent days, however, reality intruded on this fiction. Suddenly, tens of thousands of terrorists, armed to the teeth, were demolishing American-trained armies, beheading American journalists, and threatening American targets.

Obama is not the manner of man who can say, “I was wrong: It turns out that al-Qaeda is actually on the rise, its Islamic State faction is overwhelming the region, and American interests – perhaps even American territory – are profoundly threatened.” So instead… you got “the Khorosan Group.”

You also got a smiley-face story about five Arab states joining the United States in a coalition to confront the terrorists. Finally, the story goes, Sunni governments were acting decisively to take Islam back from the “un-Islamic” elements that falsely commit “violent extremism” under Islam’s banner.

Sounds uplifting… until you read the fine print. You’ve got to dig deep to find it. It begins, for example, 42 paragraphs into the Wall Street Journal’s report on the start of the bombing campaign. After the business about our glorious alliance with “moderate” allies like Saudi Arabia and Qatar who so despise terrorism, we learn:

Only the U.S. – not Arab allies – struck sites associated with the Khorasan group, officials said. Khorasan group members were in the final stages of preparations for an attack on U.S. and Western interests, a defense official said. Khorasan was planning an attack on international airliners, officials have said… Rebels and activists contacted inside Syria said they had never heard of Khorasan and that the U.S. struck several bases and an ammunition warehouse belonging to the main al Qaeda-linked group fighting in Syria, Nusra Front. While U.S. officials have drawn a distinction between the two groups, they acknowledge their membership is intertwined and their goals are similar.

Oops. So it turns out that our moderate Islamist partners have no interest in fighting Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate. Yes, they reluctantly, and to a very limited extent, joined U.S. forces in the strikes against the Islamic State renegades. But that’s not because the Islamic State is jihadist while they are moderate. It is because the Islamic State has made mincemeat of Iraq’s forces, is a realistic threat to topple Assad, and has our partners fretting that they are next on the menu.

Meantime, though, the Saudis and Qatar want no trouble with the rest of al-Qaeda, particularly with al-Nusra. After all, al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch is tightly allied with the “moderate opposition” that these “moderate” Gulf states have been funding, arming, and training for the jihad against Assad.

Oh, and what about those other “moderates” Obama has spent his presidency courting, the Muslim Brotherhood? It turns out they are not only all for al-Qaeda, they even condemn what one of their top sharia jurists, Wagdy Ghoneim, has labeled “the Crusader war against the Islamic State.”

“The Crusaders in America, Europe, and elsewhere are our enemies,” Ghoneim tells Muslims. For good measure he adds, “We shall never forget the terrorism of criminal America, which threw the body of the martyred heroic mujahid, Bin Laden, into the sea.”

Obama has his story and he’s sticking to it. But the same can be said for our enemies.

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The Islamic State Is Nothing New (Andrew C. McCarthy)

The Islamic State Is Nothing New – Andrew C. McCarthy

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The beheading of yet another Western journalist, Steven Sotloff, has ignited another round of commentary suggesting that the Islamic State is the worst terrorist network ever. There is value in this: The current jihadist threat to the United States and the West is more dire than the threat that existed just prior to the 9/11 attacks, so anything that increases pressure for a sea change in our Islamic-supremacist-enabling government’s policies helps. Nevertheless, the perception that the Islamic State is something new and different and aberrational compared with the Islamic-supremacist threat we’ve been living with for three decades is wrong, perhaps dangerously so.

Decapitation is not a new jihadist terror method, and it is far from unique to the Islamic State. Indeed, I noted here over the weekend that it has recently been used by Islamic-supremacist elements of the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army against the Islamic State. It was only a few years ago that al-Qaeda beheaded Daniel Pearl and Nick Berg. Jihadists behead their victims (very much including other Muslims) all the time – as Tom Joscelyn notes at the indispensable Long War Journal, the al-Qaeda-tied Ansar al Jerusalem just beheaded four Egyptians suspected of spying for Israel.

Yet, the recent Islamic State beheadings, in addition to other cruelties, is fueling commentary portraying the Islamic State as more barbaric and threatening than al-Qaeda. This misses the point. The Islamic State is al-Qaeda. It is the evolution of the ruthless al-Qaeda division that grew up in Iraq under Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

In order to make the Islamic State seem different from al-Qaeda – i.e., to make it seem like something that has spontaneously appeared, rather than something Obama ignored and empowered – some reporting claims there are “ideological” and “doctrinal” differences between the two. This is true in only the most technical sense, a sense that is essentially irrelevant vis à vis the West.

What is going on among the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood (including Hamas), and other factions is a power struggle for leadership of the Sunni side of the global Islamic-supremacist movement. Because of the audience to which these actors play, some of their differences are framed as sharia-based. Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda leaders (who are allied against Assad in Syria and were allied with the Islamic State until fairly recently) contend, for example, that the Islamic State’s unilateral declaration of a caliphate transgresses Islamic principles that call for consultation and consensus among sharia-adherent Muslims. They argue that Islamic-supremacist groups should work cooperatively in the formation of local or regional emirates, with an eye toward eventually assembling the global caliphate.

From our perspective, so what? Both sides regard the West as the enemy to be conquered. Their differences are germane only to the extent that sharia fidelity, in addition to sheer brute force, will determine who comes out on top in their intramural warfare. As we have been observing here for years with respect to al-Qaeda and the Brotherhood, their disputes are mostly tactical; their splits on the finer points of Islamic-supremacist ideology bear only on how they regard each other. When it comes to the West, both see us as the enemy – and they put aside their differences to attack us.

The same has also always been true of the ideological/doctrinal divide between Sunni and Shiite jihadists. For example, al-Qaeda has had cooperative and operational relations with Iran since the early 1990s. Iran collaborated with al-Qaeda in the 1996 Khobar Towers attack that killed 19 U.S. airmen; probably in the 9/11 attacks; certainly in the aftermath of 9/11; and in the Iraq and Afghan insurgencies. Al-Qaeda would not be what it is today without state sponsorship, particularly from Iran. The Islamic State might not exist at all.

The point is that al-Qaeda has never been anything close to the totality of the jihadist threat. Nor, now, is the Islamic State. The challenge has always been Islamic supremacism: the ideology, the jihadists that are the point of the spear, and the state sponsors that enable jihadists to project power. The challenge cannot be met effectively by focusing on one element to the exclusion of others.

Have a look, for instance, at Bill Roggio’s report today (also in the Long War Journal): In helping Iraqi forces wrest Amerli from the Islamic State, the U.S. Air Force colluded with Iran-backed Shiite terrorist groups, including the League of the Righteous, responsible for the killing of hundreds of American soldiers in Iraq. The switch in dominion over territory from anti-American Sunni jihadists to anti-American Shiite jihadists is a setback for the Islamic State, but it does not advance American national security. In fact, it would become a real negative for American national security if it contributed to a revival of the dangerous fantasy that Iran has a helpful, “stabilizing” role to play in rolling back the terrorist threat – a fantasy to which the Obama administration is far from unique in subscribing.

I opined at the start of this piece that the threat to the United States is more dire now than it was before 9/11. How could it be otherwise? What jihadists need to attack the United States is safe haven and state sponsorship, which enable them to plan and train; financial and weapons resources; and lax immigration enforcement. On every one of those scores, the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, and other violent Islamic supremacists are in a better position than they were circa 1998-2001. The Islamic State, to take the most prominent example, controls a country-size swath of territory; has seized riches and advanced weaponry during its rampage; has enjoyed support from several countries; and targets an America in which border security is a joke, no effort is made to police visa overstays, and the federal government has actually discouraged and prevented state and federal agents from enforcing immigration laws.

The threat is worse, and worsening. But it is not confined to the Islamic State, and we cannot protect ourselves from it – cannot even grasp that it is a threat to us rather than simply to a faraway region – unless we understand the totality of it.

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Related:

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Via twitter

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Jamie Dupree
@jamiedupree

Secretary of State Kerry: “the face of Islam is not the butchers who killed Steven Sotloff – that’s ISIL”

7:26 AM – 3 Sep 2014
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H/T Weasel Zippers

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Hey Barack, go fuck yourself.
And while you’re at it, fuck Allah too!

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