Clinton Failed a Crucial Homeland Security Test

Clinton Failed a Crucial Homeland Security Test
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
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As the Hillary Clinton camp ceaselessly reminds us, experience matters when it comes to national security. But Clinton’s record as secretary of state suggests that she is more responsive to the civil rights posturing of Islamic advocacy groups than she is to the need for unfettered intelligence gathering that can protect American lives.

As terrorism threatens to swallow Western Europe and ramps up here, this is a subject that Clinton and the Obama administration want to avoid. There was never much chance that you would hear the words “Islamic” and “terrorism” juxtaposed at any point during the Democratic National Convention.

On the campaign trail Clinton approaches the issue obliquely. In a national security-themed speech in San Diego on June 2, she acknowledged that the threat of domestic terrorism is “real and urgent.” But beyond collaborative attacks on ISIS strongholds in Syria and Iraq, her prescription for preventing domestic terrorism was limited to this: “We need to lash up with our allies, and ensure our intelligence services are working hand-in-hand to dismantle the global network that supplies money, arms, propaganda and fighters to the terrorists.”

A laudable objective that Clinton failed to embrace in practice when she was in office.

In his book “See Something, Say Nothing,” retired Department of Homeland Security intelligence agent Philip Haney revealed that the Obama administration and Clinton’s State Department – at the urging of Islamist activists in key advisory positions – ordered the purge of painstakingly developed databases and restricted intelligence activities that had identified Muslims as potential terrorist operatives.

Haney reported that in October 2009, his superiors ordered him to remove more than 800 data records that tracked leaders of Muslim Brotherhood affiliates named as unindicted co-conspirators in the 2008 Holy Land Foundation case, which had convicted five individuals of financially supporting the global terrorist organization Hamas.   

After holding an outreach conference in early 2010 with representatives of Islamic organizations, DHS formed a Countering Violent Extremism Working Group which included Mohamed Elibiary, Mohamed Magid, and Brotherhood apologist Dalia Mogahed. Elibiary served until September 2014, when he was stripped of his security clearance and booted by DHS after allegedly misusing intelligence documents and proclaiming that the return of the Islamic caliphate was “inevitable.”

Magid, who accused the Bush administration of waging a “war against Islam and Muslims” when it investigated Muslim organizations after 9/11, has long held executive positions with the Islamic Foundation of North America (ISNA), an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case. Magid continues to serve on the Faith Based Security and Communications Subcommittee of DHS’s Advisory Council, along with Salam Al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council who has publicly claimed that American foreign policy is being guided by Israel and is unfair to Islamic countries like Egypt and Iran. Nevertheless, Clinton sent Al-Marayati as her emissary to European conferences on religious freedom in 2010 and human rights in 2012.

In 2012, under pressure from Islamic civil rights advocates who claimed that government intelligence gathering processes were inherently Islamophobic, DHS and Clinton’s State Department shut down a DHS intelligence operation in which Haney was tracking the Tablighi Jamaat network.

Incredibly, Haney’s revelations – and the consequences for DHS’s ability to prevent future domestic terrorism – have nearly disappeared from the public homeland security discourse.

Haney drew the media’s attention after his book was published two months ago and again after the June 12 Orlando nightclub massacre. But since FBI Director James Comey’s July 5 press conference announcing his negligent-but-not-criminal verdict on Clinton’s private email server, mostly the debate about Clinton’s national security chops has focused on whether she exposed government secrets to foreign hackers. But her preference for politically correct intelligence outcomes  makes a far more compelling case that Clinton is a bad bet to effectively protect the homeland.    

Her  reluctance to allow intelligence professionals to follow the trail of Islamist networks reflects, in its best light, a baffling misreading of the goals of the Islamist movement. In sections 4 and 5 of its 1991 Explanatory Memorandum, which articulated its long-term objectives in the U.S., the Muslim Brotherhood said:

The Ikhwan [Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the [Islamic] believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions. . . . In order to do that, we must possess a mastery of the art of “coalitions,” the art of “absorption” and the principles of “cooperation.”

Brotherhood representatives and sympathizers have cleverly and almost seamlessly cast themselves as friendly, pro-American players in politics, community organizations and interfaith outreach. Meanwhile, they have aggressively secured seats at the government table to inveigh against alleged targeting on the grounds that it would violate Muslims’ civil rights.

If you think Clinton would change course as president, her history of affinity for Islamist causes and players suggests otherwise:

  • In early 2010, barely a year into her tenure at State, she reversed a Bush administration refusal to issue visas to two academics – Adam Habib and Tariq Ramadan, the grandson of the Brotherhood’s founder, on the grounds they’ve supported terrorist activities.
  • Together with Obama, Clinton approved a $1.5 billion aid package to Egypt upon the Muslim Brotherhood’s ascension to power there in 2011-12 (it was ousted by the Egyptian military in 2013).
  • Clinton has proposed that the U.S. increase Syrian refugee immigration from Obama’s suggested 10,000 to 65,000, subject to a vetting process that she must know can never be entirely reliable. Comey warned this week that as ISIS’s territory shrinks under growing military pressure, a “terrorist diaspora” is likely to land ISIS soldiers and sympathizers in the U.S. and lead to Paris- and Brussels-style attacks, even without a government decision to accept more refugees.
  • Islamic nations, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Algeria and the UAE, have donated tens of millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation, supported construction of Bill Clinton’s presidential library, and paid speaking fees to the former president. The most generous of these donors have been the Saudis, incubators and exporters of the fundamentalist Wahhabi movement that inspired the modern, violent iteration of jihad. What has the largesse of the Islamic nations bought them?

As she tries to persuade voters over the next three months that she is the better anti-terrorism candidate, Hillary Clinton’s record of deference to Islamic interests is a troubling sign. If we expect our intelligence services to have any chance to discover and disrupt plots, they must be able to track networks and follow leads without Islamist oversight that seeks only to protect Muslims. Clinton cannot be expected to remove the shackles of political correctness that have been imposed on the intelligence community. 

James Greenfield is a business litigator and real estate lawyer in Villanova, Pa.

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