It's not every day a former director of Central Intelligence Agency is standing by, so I asked Michael Hayden for his opinion of the speak-no-Islam issue. "People I trust" -- uh-oh -- "say to be careful not to use the term `jihadist' because it does have a broader use across the Islamic world," he said.
So what? That doesn't affect its accuracy as a description of the enemy! However, he continued, not using the word `Islamic' "obfuscates the issue (and) neuters our understanding" of Islamic terrorism -- "however perverted it might be." Hayden added: "This is in no way a comment on the Islamic faith."
But it is in some way a comment on American intelligence. Political correctness stymies it.
Of course, NCTC Director Michael Leiter was quick to insist "there was no PC-ness" on his watch. "If someone is inspired by Islamic ideology --" he began, then stopped. "Let me rephrase that: al-Qaida ideology ..."
Later, I had an opportunity to ask Leiter what he thought about the FBI bringing Mustapha into NCTC.
"Ask the FBI," he suggested, helpfully. But isn't NCTC your shop? I asked.
"Actually," he explained, "the building isn't owned by us. Three organizations have offices there. ..."
When I pulled myself up off the floor, he was still talking: "It's more complicated -- talk to the FBI. They've got a lot more information than I do."
The FBI better be good, right? After all, on taking my Mustapha question, FBI Director Robert Mueller, the conference's final speaker, said he'd been briefed to expect it. "I'm not sure I agree with the predicate of your question," he said, "and we're not going to debate it here."
He continued, discussing the Citizen's Academy program, which he described as "exposing the FBI to a variety of communities."
"Exposing" is right.
He, too, said he wouldn't discuss individuals, but added, meaningfully: "We do look into the individuals that we invite into the Citizen's Academies."
I think the man who pulled the plugs had spoken.