Obama’s New Cabinet Pics Are Just Wrong

Jihad-Denialist Nominated to Head CIA

President Obama’s determination to keep his Middle East outreach agenda alive, no matter how at odds with reality, continues. Yesterday, John Brennan, Deputy National Security Adviser for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, was nominated to head the CIA, replacing scandal-scarred David Petraeus. “John knows what our national security demands,” Obama announced.

“John has an invaluable perspective on the forces, the history, the culture, the politics, economics, the desire for human dignity driving so much of the changes in today’s world…He knows the risks that our intelligence professionals face every day.”

At best, the 25-year CIA veteran’s record is a mixed bag. At worst, he becomes another link in the administration’s efforts to normalize relations with Islamic terrorists.

Brennan was considered to run the CIA after the president was elected for the first time in 2008. But he withdrew his name from consideration after critics derided his support for the Bush administration’s enhanced interrogation techniques, a charge he denied. “It has been immaterial to the critics that I have been a strong opponent of many of the policies of the Bush administration such as the pre-emptive war in Iraq and coercive interrogation tactics, to include waterboarding,” Brennan wrote at the time.

In 2009, Brennan came under fire again, as the result of the colossal intelligence failure that allowed terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to board Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day 2009, during which he attempted to detonate an underwear bomb. Abdulmutallab was able to board the fight despite several red flags, including intercepted conversations between Abdulmutallab and American terror cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a British visa rejection, and a warning from his own father, who went to the U.S. embassy in Abuja, where he told officials of receiving a letter in which his son talked about “sacrificing himself.”

After calls for his resignation, Brennan responded to the criticism in a USA Today editorial. “Politically motivated criticism and unfounded fear-mongering only serve the goals of al-Qaeda,” he wrote. ”Terrorists are not 100-feet tall. Nor do they deserve the abject fear they seek to instill.” One suspects those on board Flight 253 might disagree. Yet Brennan doubled down, and insisted on treating Abdulmutallab as a criminal, rather than an enemy combatant, contending that it is “naive to think that transferring Abdulmutallab to military custody would have caused an outpouring of information. There is little difference between military and civilian custody, other than an interrogator with a uniform. The suspect gets access to a lawyer, and interrogation rules are nearly identical,” Brennan contended.

Brennan further cemented his soft-on-terror credentials only days later in a February 13, 2010 speech at New York University law school’s Islamic Center. In front of  a largely Muslim audience, he called for trying 9/11 terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a civilian court. ”We are trying to push this forward as best we can, but we also need non-obstruction from certain forces in our government,” he contended. “There are stiff winds delaying us from bringing this man to justice.” Those stiff winds came from the Obama administration itself, which rejected a guilty plea from KSM in 2008, in order to try him in civilian court.

During the same speech, Brennan endorsed the administration’s determination to delete words like “jihadist” and “war on terror” from its lexicon. “They are not jihadists, for jihad is a holy struggle, an effort to purify for a legitimate purpose, and there is nothing–absolutely nothing–holy or pure or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women and children,” Brennan insisted. “We are not waging a war against terrorism because terrorism is but a tactic that will never be defeated, any more than a tactics of war will.” In another telling moment, Brennan’s first referred to Jerusalem as al-Quds, which is its Arabic name. ”In all my travels the city I have come to love most is al-Quds, Jerusalem, where three great faiths come together,” he said.

During the question and answer period, Brennan contended that a 20 percent recidivism rate for terrorists released from Guantanamo Bay prison “isn’t that bad” when compared to the American penal system. ”People sometimes use that figure, 20 percent, say ‘Oh my goodness, one out of five detainees returned to some type of extremist activity,’” Brennan said. “You know, the American penal system, the recidivism rate is up to something about 50 percent or so, as far as return to crime. Twenty percent isn’t that bad.” That Brennan could compare one-in-five hardcore terrorists returning to the task of waging war against the West with regular criminals of all kinds, demonstrates either a monumental level of naiveté, or a disingenuousness bordering on delusion.

In another speech given in May 2010 at the Nixon Center, Brennan upped the ante yet again, asserting that that “violent extremists” are victims of “political, economic and social forces.” Reuters reveals additional comments Brennan made, following his return from Lebanon:

“Hezbollah is a very interesting organization,” Brennan told a Washington conference, citing its evolution from “purely a terrorist organization” to a militia to an organization that now has members within the parliament and the cabinet. ”There is certainly the elements of Hezbollah that are truly a concern to us what they’re doing. And what we need to do is to find ways to diminish their influence within the organization and to try to build up the more moderate elements,” Brennan said.”

Again, one might be forgiven for wondering what constitutes a “moderate” in an organization that has carried out a series of worldwide terror attacks over the course of decades, yearns for Israel’s annihilation and, prior to 9/11, was responsible for killing more Americans than any other terrorist organization in the world.

Unfortunately, Brennan’s infatuation with outreach is not limited to Hezbollah. In 2010, columnist Patrick Poole revealed that Hamas operative Kifah Mustapha was given a guided tour of the “National Counterterrorism Center and other secure government facilities, including the FBI’s training center at Quantico.” Mustapha was an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land foundation case, during which his colleagues were convicted of funding Hamas, yet another U.S.-designated terrorist organization. Center for Security Policy chief Frank Gaffney, a former Reagan administration official, demanded Brennan’s resignation as a result. ”The FBI gave a guided tour of one of our most sensitive counter-terrorism facilities to a known Hamas operative,” Gaffney said. “It is clear that the cluelessness fostered by Mr. Brennan is causing an empowering of the wrong sorts of Muslims in America and endangering the American people.”

Brennan penchant for revealing America’s secrets continued in 2012. When the United States thwarted another would-be underwear bomber last May, Brennan inadvertently revealed we had a double-agent working on the case when he briefed former counter-terrorism advisors who subsequently got work as TV commentators. He told them that the bomber was never a threat because America had “inside control” of the situation. The former advisors reached the inexorable conclusion shortly thereafter. May was also the month Judicial Watch finally obtained documents, via a Freedom of Information Act, from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA,) revealing that Brennan and Defense Department officials disclosed to Hollywood filmmakers the identity of the SEAL Team Six operator and commander involved in taking out Osama Bin Laden. A transcript of a meeting held July 14, 2011, reveals that ”documents seemingly reference John O. Brennan, Chief Counterterrorism Advisor to President Obama and Denis McDonough, who serves as President Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor.”

“These documents, which took nine months and a federal lawsuit to disgorge from the Obama administration, show that politically-connected film makers were giving extraordinary and secret access to bin Laden raid information, including the identity of a Seal Team Six leader,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “It is both ironic and hypocritical that the Obama administration stonewalled Judicial Watch’s pursuit of the bin Laden death photos, citing national security concerns, yet seemed willing to share intimate details regarding the raid to help Hollywood filmmakers release a movie ‘perfectly timed to give a home-stretch boost’ to the Obama campaign.”

All of the above suggests that John Brennan is, at the least, an extremely dubious pick to head the CIA. But a story by Associated Press columnist Kimberly Dozier entitled, “Who Will US Drones Target? Who Will Decide?” paints an even more disturbing picture of Brennan, who she contends has “seized the lead in guiding the debate on which terror leaders will be targeted for drone attacks or raids, establishing a new procedure to vet both military and CIA targets. The move concentrates power over the use of lethal U.S. force outside war zones at the White House,” she writes. She further noted that while some intelligence officials are comfortable with the new process, others expressed concern about ”how easy it has become to kill someone.”

PJ Media’s Patrick Poole puts it more directly: “John Brennan is the man under whom President Obama has consolidated the unprecedented power of assassination. He directly controls and oversees all aspects of the program that had been previously divided between the Pentagon, the CIA, and other officials,” he writes.

A soft-on-terror approach, combined with an appetite for unprecedented powers, makes John Brennan a perfect fit for a president with the same proclivities. So does a dubious mixture of incompetence and arrogance. It remains to be seen whether the Senate thinks such qualities work for the nation as a whole. Since the Senate is controlled by Democrats, one suspects that Brennan’s confirmation will be little more than a formality.By


The Anti-War/Anti-Semitic Defense Chief

President Obama has nominated former Senator and Vietnam war veteran Chuck Hagel to replace Leon Panetta as Secretary of Defense, and John Brennan to serve as director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Although Brennan’s Senate confirmation may meet less resistance, Hagel’s nomination is sure to spark a fierce confirmation battle in the Senate — a battle that would be completely warranted. Hagel, after all, has espoused a deep kinship with the radical anti-war Left, advocated reckless foreign policy positions such as direct talks with terrorists and their leading sponsor, Iran, and demonstrated a nasty hostility to Israel and to Jews in general. To have this kind of individual serving as the head of the U.S. Defense Department is to severely jeopardize the security interests of the U.S., our ally Israel and the rest of the free world.

Hagel has become the darling of the radical anti-war crowd for his virulent attacks on President Bush’s Iraq war policies, his appeasement of Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, and his sharp criticism of enhanced interrogation. Back in 2008, when Hagel’s name was first being floated for a possible cabinet position in the Obama administration, Medea Benjamin, executive director of the far-Left group CodePink, said: “Hagel would be a good choice. I think he’s shown himself to be an outspoken critic of the terrible policies of the Bush administration.”

Just the other day, Michael Moore reflected on Hagel’s stance against the Iraq war and wrote, “thank you, Chuck Hagel.”

How comforting it will be to have the man whom Medea Benjamin and Michael Moore so admire heading the Pentagon.

Hagel is also beloved by Israel-haters and anti-Semites, including the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Iranian regime’s TV network mouthpiece, TVPress, because of the extreme anti-Israel, anti-Jewish views that Hagel has expressed over the years.

Hagel believes that U.S. foreign policy has been skewed too much in Israel’s favor. He ascribed the pro-Israel tilt to the power of what he called the “Jewish lobby,” which he said had the ability to “intimidate” members of Congress. While serving in the Senate, he boasted that he was not sent to Washington to serve as an “Israeli Senator.” This was an obvious swipe at his Senate colleagues who believed in supporting the only true democracy in the Middle East.  Hagel was also using the age-old code words of anti-Semites who accuse Jews of dual loyalties.

Hagel showed his complete indifference to the plight of Jews trapped in the Soviet Union in 1999 when he was the only senator out of 100 who refused to sign the American Jewish Committee’s statement against anti-Semitism in Russia. The petition was set to appear as a full-page newspaper ad during then-president Boris Yeltsin’s visit to the United States. In October 2000, Hagel and only three other senators refused to sign a Senate letter in support of Israel. In August 2006, Hagel joined only eleven other senators in refusing to write the European Union asking them to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

It’s not as if Hagel doesn’t sign letters dealing with Israel and its enemies when he wants to.  For example, although the terrorist organization Hamas has yet to renounce violence and its covenant to destroy Israel, Hagel signed a letter delivered just days before Obama was to take office for his first term as president urging Obama to talk to leaders of Hamas.

Israel is surrounded by enemies determined to destroy the Jewish state. It is also a strategic partner in our own war against global Islamist jihadists – sharing intelligence, developing state-of-the art body armor used by our troops and anti-missile defense systems that are more sophisticated than our own. Yet we are facing the prospect of a Secretary of Defense who goes out of his way to antagonize our only true ally in the Middle East and who cannot bring himself to treat Hamas and Hezbollah as the terrorist enemies of all freedom-loving countries that they surely are.

Some of Hagel’s defenders are blaming pro-Israel groups for supposedly besmirching his character in order to sabotage the nomination. This accusation is absurd. Hagel’s disturbing past statements about Israel and its enemies speak for themselves.

But even if Hagel had not shown the kind of antipathy towards Israel that has won him praise from the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Council on American-Islamic Relations and earned him the “anti-Israel” title on Iranian state TV, Hagel would still be a complete disaster as Secretary of Defense.  He is caught in the time warp of the Vietnam syndrome, the national defense paralysis that stemmed from what Ronald Reagan once described as “feelings of guilt as if we were doing something shameful.”

In nominating Hagel, President Obama said that “To this day, Chuck bears the scars and the shrapnel” of his service in Vietnam. While the president no doubt had physical scars in mind, Hagel still carries the mental scars that have instilled in him an instinctive repulsion for doing what will be necessary as Secretary of Defense to defend our country.

“Vietnam was a tough lesson for us to learn,” he told PBS last year. Hagel’s record shows the extent to which the Vietnam syndrome has poisoned his judgment.

For example, Hagel turned on the Iraq war that he originally supported because he could not free himself from the ghosts of the Vietnam war as the battles in Iraq continued. In 2007, when President Bush proposed the troop “surge” in Iraq to turn the tide of war in our favor, Hagel became one of the surge’s most vocal critics. Not surprisingly, Vietnam was not far from his mind. He described the surge as “the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam, if it’s carried out.” Hagel also called the surge “a dangerously wrong-headed strategy that will drive America deeper into an unwinnable swamp at a great cost.”  He stands by that assessment, despite all of the evidence following the surge of sharply reduced violence and the defeat of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Hagel also strongly opposed the enhanced interrogation of suspected al-Qaeda terrorists that took place during the Bush years. These interrogations helped in foiling more terrorist attacks on our homeland, saving countless lives.

For instance, Hagel was asked during a June 2005 CNN interview by John King about a report in Time Magazine regarding the interrogation methods used on Mohammed Al-Qahtani, a detainee who had allegedly tried to enter the United States to take part in the September 11 attacks as the 20th hijacker.  It seems that Al-Qahtani was administered some fluids and then denied permission to relieve himself until he first answered some questions.  “When Al-Qahtani again requested his promised bathroom break, he is told to go in his pants,” Time reported. “Humiliatingly, he does.”

We are not talking about waterboarding here.  Yet Hagel condemned even this relatively mild form of enhanced interrogation.  He said that “it’s not only wrong, but dangerous, and very dumb, and very short-sighted… it needs to stop.”

Referring to additional enhanced interrogation techniques used by Al-Qahtani’s interrogators after Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had authorized  tougher measures to get valuable intelligence information, Roberts asked Hagel whether requiring “a Muslim man to stand nude, bark like a dog, and have pictures of scantily-clad women around his neck” crosses his threshold of outrage.

“Well, of course it does,” Hagel replied. Again, he invoked his memory of the Vietnam war in which he served. “I was in Vietnam in 1968. I carried a rifle,” Hagel said. “I saw a culture develop that was a very bad culture that ended in disaster for this country.”

Without the sort of enhanced interrogation methods Hagel so roundly condemned, the CIA would never have picked up the intelligence that first gave clues to the identity of the courier who led us to Osama bin Laden’s hideout. Current Secretary of Defense and former CIA chief Leon Panetta confirmed this fact during an interview with NBC News very shortly after bin Laden was killed.

Fast forward to 2013.  How would Chuck Hagel’s case of the Vietnam syndrome play out in his dealing as Secretary of Defense with the Iranian nuclear threat?  In one word, appeasement. Like Obama, Hagel has called for “unconditional” talks with Iran. But he goes even further than Obama in his appeasement policy. He has opposed economic sanctions, other than the watered-down version approved by the United Nations Security Council. He was one of two senators to oppose the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act in 2001.  In 2008, Hagel was reported to have been “solely responsible” for blocking a bill that would have tightened economic sanctions in Iran, according to the Huffington Post.

Hagel appears willing to accept a nuclear-armed Iran as a fact of life that we will just have to learn to live with. He has spoken in favor of “containment not unlike the strategies that the United States pursued during the Cold War against the Soviet Union.” Hagel also thinks that the United States should offer to back off any declaratory support for regime change in Iran. While in the Senate, Hagel even voted against designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization.

The trouble with trying to contain a nuclear-armed Iran through mutual deterrence, as we did with the leaders of the Soviet Union, is that the fanatical Islamists running Iran do not care how many lives of their own people are sacrificed during the chaos they believe is necessary to hasten the return of Islam’s savior, the 12th Imam.

Furthermore, Hagel’s views on a quick exit from Afghanistan and steep cuts in the defense budget reinforce President Obama’s own inclinations. As Max Boot, a leading military historian and foreign-policy analyst, wrote in Commentary Magazine concerning Afghanistan:

With his own record of service as an non-commissioned officer in Vietnam (it may be relevant to note that many NCOs have a low opinion of commissioned officers, especially those with lots of stars on their shoulders), Hagel might very well discount the advice of the officers who know Afghanistan best and instead opt for the position that the White House favors. That could very well be the reason why Hagel is being picked in the first place.

Before President Obama officially announced his nomination of Chuck Hagel for the position of Secretary of Defense and John Brennan for director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Obama said that protecting the security of the American people was his number one priority. In selecting Chuck Hagel to lead the Defense Department, he has clearly — and ominously — failed that test.By

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