The director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, astonished the House Intelligence Committee yesterday when he told members that the Islamist organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, was “largely secular,” and had “eschewed violence.” The statement demonstrated Clapper’s profound ignorance toward one of the major players in the global Islamic terrorism movement, and seriously puts into question his competency as the head of the Department of National Intelligence.
In response to a question from Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC) about the threat posed by the Brotherhood, Clapper demonstrated in one fell swoop why he is singularly unqualified to head up the intelligence community of the United States government. Politico’s Josh Gerstein quotes Clapper:
The term ‘Muslim Brotherhood’…is an umbrella term for a variety of movements, in the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried Al Qaeda as a perversion of Islam. They have pursued social ends, a betterment of the political order in Egypt, et cetera…..In other countries, there are also chapters or franchises of the Muslim Brotherhood, but there is no overarching agenda, particularly in pursuit of violence, at least internationally.
(See video here.)
Middle East scholar Michael Ledeen believes that Clapper’s ignorance is only half the problem. He notes that the DNI’s remarks “are not his personal opinions; they are the collective judgment of the Intelligence Community.” Indeed, one must assume when the Director speaks – especially in front of a congressional committee – that he has amassed the consensus opinions from every agency under his sweeping jurisdiction. If this is the case, what does that say about the perspicacity of our intelligence community? Is it really this dysfunctional? A frightening thought, to be sure.
This isn’t the first time that Director Clapper has amazed America with his lack of knowledge about what is going on in the world. Last December, in a Diane Sawyer interview, he admitted he had no knowledge of a roundup of 12 terrorists in London that had been front page news that day and dominated the news cycle on the cable nets. Later, the White House tried to cover up Clapper’s jaw-dropping ignorance by claiming that he was immersed in details of the START treaty.
Can we be comforted knowing that Clapper is not a multi-tasker?
Examining Clapper’s remarks before the Intel Committee, one can’t help but be astounded, and not a little bewildered at his cluelessness about the Brotherhood. It’s not like the Islamists are trying to hide the nature of their organization, their goals, their history, or their reason for being.
As former CIA operations officer Brian Fairchild writes, there are no secrets between the Brotherhood and the rest of the world. Muhammad Mahdi Akef, the supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, from 2004-2010 repeatedly made clear the religious nature of his organization. He said on December, 11, 2005, “The Muslim Brotherhood is a global movement whose members cooperate with each other throughout the world, based on the same religious worldview — the spread of Islam, until it rules the world.”