When Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) suggested we are still trying to “make sense” of the Orlando terror attack at Tuesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Islamic terrorism, he all but proved Chairman Ted Cruz’s point – political correctness is jeopardizing our national security. One is only still trying to “make sense” of Orlando if one ignores the killer’s pledge to ISIS terrorism, the Texas senator insisted.
“We cannot combat and defeat radical Islamic terrorism without acknowledging it exists and directing our resources to stopping it,” Cruz said in his opening remarks. “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.”
The White House’s decision to redact the Orlando 911 transcript so there was no mention of ISIS was an action that would especially “make George Orwell proud,” he said at the hearing.
In another example of the administration's ability to make key words disappear, a 2013 Judicial Watch report revealed that the FBI scrubbed its law enforcement training material of any language that might be deemed "offensive" to Muslims. Per those guidelines, hundreds of references to "Muslim," "Islam" or "jihad" were removed from the 2004 9/11 commission report.
The witnesses provided more evidence to corroborate these findings. Mr. Philip Haney, a retired Customs and Border Protection Officer for the Department of Homeland Security, revealed that the CIA has scrubbed more than 800 law enforcement records that were almost all connected to the Muslim brotherhood.
The first “great purge,” he said, was in 2009. Yet, in 2012 they didn’t just modify the records, they eliminated them out of the system, which, he noted, bypasses security protocol in Homeland Security. Why does it matter? Because of San Bernardino. If the department hadn’t edited its records, perhaps they could have caught the San Bernardino terrorist who killed 14 people at a Department of Public Health training event, Haney insinuated.
“There is no such thing as a lone-wolf terrorist,” Haney said. “To look at these acts as separate from community is flawed.”
Another witness, Ms. Farhana Y. Khera, president and executive director of Muslim Advocates, pushed back at this narrative, insisting the real issue is the rhetoric coming from this year’s crop of presidential candidates.
Presidential hopefuls have suggested we should control and secure Muslim neighborhoods, she reminded the panel. It created a bit of an awkward moment, considering it was Cruz’s own proposal. Khera was also undoubtedly referring to Donald Trump’s plan to enforce a temporary ban on Muslim immigration.
This diatribe, Khera suggested, makes it “okay” to fear your Muslim neighbor and has led to a rise in hate crimes.
We are “stronger together,” she concluded. “Some would dismiss this as political correctness,” but it exemplifies what makes America great.
When the chairman interrogated Khera it resulted in a testy exchange between her and his fellow panelists, yet again emphasized the danger of placing political correctness over safety.
Is it bigoted to use the word "jihad?" he asked her multiple times. Were the 126 references to jihad that were removed from the 9/11 commission report somehow offensive?
Terms like those are “alienating” and make us less safe, Khera argued, without offering a direct answer.
“We need law enforcement to find needles in the haystack,” not “broadbrush” the population, she added.
The terms we should be focusing on, she said, are “ISIS” and “Al Qaeda.” If “jihad” wasn’t a concern though, why would it be purged? the chairman wondered.
As Cruz continued to press Khera, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) murmured his disapproval. The chairman was not showing “courtesy” to the witness, Durbin said, which was greeted with some applause. Cruz strongly responded that they are not showing “courtesy” to victims of terrorism, which was greeted with even louder applause.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) defended Cruz, arguing the witness is not answering the question, so he has a right to pursue the answer.
Several of the lawmakers and witnesses referenced President George W. Bush’s post-9/11 remarks that we are not at war with Islam to argue we should not be condemning an entire religion.
The term “willful blindness,” Cruz noted on Tuesday, also aptly summarizes the Obama administration’s reaction to the terror attack in Benghazi in 2012. The senator said as much in a new statement addressing the newly released House Select Committee on Benghazi’s final report.
“Equally disturbing is the revelation in this report that the bureaucratic incompetence of the Department of State under Secretary Clinton contributed to the administration’s willful blindness, as the pleas for help from our foreign service officers in Libya were routinely ignored because not only were they the wrong message, but they were also in the wrong format," Cruz said. "It is obviously far too easy for our government officials to ignore reports they don’t want to hear on procedural grounds.”