Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Andrew C. McCarthy, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and a columnist for National Review. His book Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad (Encounter Books, 2008), has just been released in paperback with a new preface. Check out a description from Encounter Books.
FP: Andrew C. McCarthy, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Your thoughts on how the Obama administration is handling Abdul Mutallab in comparison to how it handled Hasan? The embarrassing and leaving-us-open-to-terror saga continues? Napolitano, as we know, emerged with some moronic statements. Your thoughts?
McCarthy: Jamie, thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure.
It would be nice if the government spent half as much energy focusing on what actually catalyzes jihadist terror as it does denying that there is terrorism. This problem is not unique to Obama officials, but this administration is raising willful blindness to a new level.
Basically, unless they catch a guy wearing an al Qaeda t-shirt, their default position is that everyone is a lone-wolf with no connection to any larger enterprise — and God forbid that we should ask exactly what it is that somehow inspires all these lone-wolves to attack Americans.
In my book, I describe how, right after Sayyid Nosair murdered Meir Kahane in 1990, the first impulse of the NYPD’s chief of detectives was to portray him as a lone, crazed lunatic who was certainly not part of a broader conspiracy and whose religious beliefs were irrelevant — and, as their public statements at the time demonstrate, the FBI went right along publicly with that theory.
Of course it was idiotic for Napolitano to say Hasan’s was not an act of terrorism and that there are no indications Mutallab is part of a larger terrorist conspiracy. Already, evidence to the contrary is overwhelming, on both scores. But this is the same error we’ve been making for 20 years. We don’t want to come to grips with the fact that something we can’t control — something we can only fight or surrender to — is causing Muslims to terrorize us. So we pretend the something and the terrorism don’t exist.
FP: It appears that former Gitmo detainees released in 2007 may be behind this latest terror effort. The significance?
McCarthy: Well, we plainly should not have been releasing jihadist detainees all along, and this obsession to shutter Gitmo is sheer madness. Common sense says that, if even the Obama administration realizes it would be problematic to release the last 200 of them, these remnants must be a very serious national security threat. And yet, less than two weeks ago, we shipped another half-dozen back to Yemen — as a harbinger for what the administration hoped would be the return of dozens more (Yemenis account for about 90 of the remaining 198 or so detainees). That’s nuts.
The Yemeni government, while it periodically feigns friendship with the U.S., makes common cause with Qaeda jihadists — using them to help fight Shiite insurgents. The government has a history of releasing and allowing the escape from custody of anti-American terrorists. Sending them to Yemen — as well as to Afghanistan and Somaliland, as we’ve taken to doing — is like sending them right back to bin Laden.
The only thing possibly more absurd is the delusion that we can move them away from jihadism by sending them to a Wahhabist re-education course run by the Saudis, who have spent billions of dollars and half a century propagating the ideology that fuels Sunni terrorism.
FP: Why was Abdul Mutallab able to board Flight 253? What needs to be done to prevent such a person from boarding another flight? Is our administration capable of getting that done?
McCarthy: He was able to board the flight due to a series of small but mind-boggling failures which take place in the context of a huge conceptual blunder. For now, let me just address the small failures:
They include issuing him a multiple-entry visa without any investigation to speak of; allowing him to begin his trip in Nigeria — a notoriously weak link in airport security — and then connect in Amsterdam without significant, invasive search and inquiry; and, of couse, failing to make sure the information provided by Mutallab’s father to the State Department made its way through all the proper intelligence channels and ultimately the no-fly list.
In the post-9/11 reform craze, critics (myself included) argued that you don’t make security and communication better by creating additional bureaucracies (e.g., the National Intelligence Directorate) and moving around the deck chairs on the Titanic so government can appear to be doing something (e.g., the Department of Homeland Security).
To this day, we haven’t married up the various databases or even coordinated immigration tracking so we can monitor what aliens are in the country and whether they are actually engaged in the purpose for which they claimed to be coming here. Addressing those rubber-meets-the-road tasks would be a far bigger advance for national security than growing government.
And no, I don’t think this administration has the inclination to get that done, far from it.
FP: What is the greatest failure on our side in all of this? What upsets and worries you most?
McCarthy: The much bigger problem is the failure to come to terms with the fact that we are being targeted by Islamic militants whose ideology — if not their methods — are shared by a broad mainstream of the world’s Muslims. Further, we lack the conviction and confidence that our way of life — the commitment to individual liberty, freedom of conscience, freedom of expression, equality of opportunity — is superior and worth defending on that basis.
We should unapologetically take note of the fact that we are being targeted for mass-murder attacks by Muslim terrorists and for gradual extinction by Islamist theorists (e.g., the Muslim Brotherhood’s Yusuf Qaradawi). That should inform our foreign policy and our immigration policy.
Regimes such as the Saudi government that support the Muslim Brotherhood and its “voluntary apartheid” strategy for destroying the West are our enemies, not our allies. And the Constitution is not a suicide pact: it does not require us to permit entry into our country, or maintain within our country, aliens who are not committed to the principles that are the backbone of our way of life. If you’re an alien who thinks sharia should be the law of the United States, you’re entitled to that viewpoint, but you’re wrong and we don’t need to have you here.
There’s no “marketplace of ideas” justification for making the country a safe-haven and breeding ground for people who want to destroy it.
FP: Andrew C. McCarthy, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.