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Sen. Cruz Chairs Hearing on Obama Administration's Willful Blindness to Radical Islamic Terrorism

'An Orwellian doublethink that seeks to excerpt any reference of radical Islamic terrorism is counterproductive to keeping this country safe.'

June 28, 2016

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts, today chaired a hearing titled ‘Willful Blindness: Consequences of Agency Efforts to Deemphasize Radical Islam in Combating Terrorism.’ The hearing investigated the degree to which the Obama administration is willfully turning a blind eye to radical Islamic terrorism, with deadly consequences for the safety and security of the American people.

“This year alone, the Obama administration has twice purged mentions of ‘ISIS’ and ‘Islamic terrorism’ from highly significant public records—one involving French President Hollande’s remarks about the Paris terror attacks and the other involving the terrorist’s 911 call during the horrific Orlando attack. The Administration was forced to abruptly reverse course when the public outcry became too great,” Sen. Cruz said in his opening statement. “…We cannot combat and defeat radical Islamic terrorism without acknowledging it exists and directing our resources to stopping it. And an Orwellian doublethink that seeks to excerpt any reference to it, as the Administration did to the President of France, or erase pledges of allegiance to ISIS, as the Administration did with the Orlando terrorist, is counterproductive to keeping this country safe.”

Sen. Cruz’s opening statement in its entirety can be viewed here and read below:

“Good afternoon and welcome. On November 5, 2009, at Fort Hood in Texas, an Army Major named Nidal Hasan gunned down 14 innocent persons—including an unborn child—while shouting ‘Allahu Akbar.’

“Apparently folks in the gallery find it amusing -- a terrorist murdering 14 innocent souls. Prior to this terror attack, federal officials were aware that Hasan had attempted to contact Al Qaeda and had exchanged numerous emails with the terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki. A self-professing ‘soldier of Allah,’ Hasan had also worried many colleagues with his promotion of an extreme or radical interpretation of Islam.  

“Yet, for fear of being branded as politically incorrect or otherwise, they did nothing. Then, after the fact, the Obama administration classified these terrorist killings as mere ‘workplace violence.’ In January of 2010, the Department of Defense issued a report entitled ‘Protecting the Force: Lessons from Fort Hood.’ The report did not mention Hasan by name, nor did it use the terms ‘Islam’ or ‘jihad.’

“I would like nothing more than to speak with a government official about these bizarre decisions and omissions, and about the pattern that has characterized seven years of the Obama administration, especially in light of the most recent terrorist attack in Orlando by a radicalized man who had been interviewed three times by the FBI, and yet, whose terror attack was not prevented. Indeed, this subcommittee invited two such witnesses: John P. Carlin, an Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, and Michael B. Steinbach, the Executive Assistant Director for the FBI’s National Security Branch. Both members of the Obama administration have refused to appear before this Senate hearing. 

“Three months after Fort Hood, in February 2010, the ‘Quadrennial Homeland Security Review’ made zero references to Islam—radical or otherwise. Again, this subcommittee would have appreciated speaking with a government official about this deliberate omission. Again, they have refused to appear or testify. 

“In 2011, the group ‘Muslim Advocates’ sent a letter to the Obama administration claiming the federal government had somehow become infected with ‘false and highly offensive training materials about Muslims and Islam,’ and demanding that such ‘bigoted and distorted materials’ be ‘purge[d]’—I would note that was their word, not mine ‘purged’—and was also advocating for the creation of an interagency task force to address this problem. 

“In a lightning quick response—a rather unusual occurrence in our bloated bureaucracy—current CIA director John Brennan (then the President’s Homeland Security advisor) agreed to create such a task force, and claimed that the federal government had indeed produced ‘offensive training’ that urgently needed to be dealt with in order to ‘reflect the vision that the President has put forward.’ Yet again, this subcommittee would like to discuss this critical issue of national security with the relevant officials from the Obama administration. (After all, should it really be the top concern of counterterrorism whether their efforts ‘offend’ anyone, rather than whether they work and keep Americans safe?) Yet no one from this Administration is even willing to show up and defend their scrubbing of anti-terror materials.

“Let’s take several more. In November 2011, the Department of Homeland Security released its ‘Domestic Terrorism and Homegrown Extremism Lexicon.’ It made no reference to Islamic terrorism, despite being, on its face, an alleged ‘lexicon’ that included ‘anarchist extremists,’ ‘animal rights extremists,’ ‘environmental extremists,’ and ‘racist skinhead extremists.’ Yet somehow, ‘radical Islamic extremists’ were nowhere mentioned in the FBI’s supposed lexicon. Similarly, the FBI’s ‘Counterterrorism Analytical Lexicon’ makes no reference to ‘Islam,’ ‘radical Islam,’ ‘jihad,’ or any other such term. By way of comparison, the 9/11 Commission report, released in 2004, mentioned ‘jihad’ 126 times and ‘Islam’ 322 times.

“Even worse, in March 2012, under pressure from advocacy groups, the FBI purged 876 documents from its training materials at the behest of three unidentified ‘experts’—some of the purged materials, according to the FBI, were—and here’s that word again—‘offensive.’ One article was purged because it was ‘highly inflammatory’ and ‘inaccurately argues the Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist organization.’

“It should come as no surprise that I and many others are concerned by this, given that I have introduced a bill in this Senate to designate the Muslim Brotherhood for what it is—a terrorist organization. Hamas, after all, is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and is a terrorist organization that openly celebrates murdering women and children. The Obama administration, of course, has declined to appear and explain its policies.

“In 2014, the President stated that ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, was ‘not ‘Islamic’’—again, the Islamic State is somehow not Islamic—because, according to President Obama, ‘[n]o religion condones the killing of innocents.’ Somehow, no one has told that to the terrorists. Also in 2014, a former White House counterterrorism strategist claimed that the federal government ‘cannot directly address the warped religious interpretations of groups like ISIL because of the constitutional separation of church and state.’ U.S. officials, he argued, ‘are prohibited from engaging in debates about Islam.’

“That’s more than a little troubling. Are government officials prohibited from debating anything about Islam -- from confronting Islamism, the radical theology that mandates the forcible murder or forcible submission to Sharia of the infidels? This committee deserves to hear an explanation of that.

“Let’s finish with some more recent examples.  

“This year alone, the Obama administration has twice purged mentions of ‘ISIS’ and ‘Islamic terrorism’ from highly significant public records—one involving French President Hollande’s remarks about the Paris terror attacks and the other involving the terrorist’s 911 call during the horrific Orlando attack. The Administration was forced to abruptly reverse course when the public outcry became too great. Around the same time, the Homeland Security Advisory Council was admonishing DHS personnel in a report about countering violent extremism to ‘reject religiously-charged terminology’ such as ‘jihad,’ ‘Sharia,’ ‘takfir,’ and ‘umma.’ 

“Does anyone notice a trend here? A consistent effort by this Administration to scrub any reference to radical Islamic terrorism, to pretend that the threat does not exist. And tragically as a consequence of that, over and over again, we have instances where the Administration has ample evidence of radical Islamic terrorists. Whether it is the Boston bombers or Nidal Hasan. Whether it is the terrorists in San Bernardino or the terrorist in Orlando, the Administration has had, over and over again, ample evidence to step in and prevent these terror attacks, but the consequence of the willful blindness, of a policy that as a matter of Administration policy refuses to acknowledge the threat, means over and over again this Administration has allowed the threats to go forward. 

“We cannot combat and defeat radical Islamic terrorism without acknowledging it exists and directing our resources to stopping it. And an Orwellian doublethink that seeks to excerpt any reference to it, as the Administration did to the President of France, or erase pledges of allegiance to ISIS, as the Administration did with the Orlando terrorist, is counterproductive to keeping this country safe. That should be the number one obligation of the Commander-in-Chief. It should be the focus of this Administration, and the purpose of this subcommittee hearing is to assess the degree to which the Administration is willfully turning a blind eye to radical Islamic terrorism and the consequences for the safety and security of the American people.” 

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