The new term for terrorism being used by President Obama’s secretary of Homeland Security would be comical if it were not so scary.
Instead of referring to threats from terrorists, Janet Napolitano is referring in her speeches to “man-caused disasters.” In an interview, a reporter for Germany’s Spiegel Online asked Napolitano whether her avoidance of the term terrorism means that “Islamist terrorism suddenly no longer pose[es] a threat to your country?”
“Of course it does,” Napolitano replied. “I presume there is always a threat from terrorism. In my speech, although I did not use the word ‘terrorism,’ I referred to ‘man-caused’ disasters. That is perhaps only a nuance, but it demonstrates that we want to move away from the politics of fear toward a policy of being prepared for all risks that can occur.”
By this logic, the FBI should refer to serial killers and serial rapists as “man-caused afflictions.” After all, we do not want to create fear about serial killers.
Any parent knows that the way to protect children is to teach them about the dangers they face. But in Obama Land, calling a threat by its real name is politically incorrect. Thus, in a press briefing, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that Obama is using “different words and phrases [than war on terrorism] in order to denote a reaching out to many moderate parts of the world that we believe can be important in a battle against extremists.”
By confusing terrorists with moderates, the White House is adding to prejudice toward Muslims in general. More importantly, the effort to avoid calling terrorists what they are signals a return to the risk-averse, complacent atmosphere that led to the 9/11 attacks.
Before 9/11, because of relentless media criticism, the FBI became so gun shy and politically correct that even though terrorists were known to hatch their plots in mosques, the FBI was averse to following suspects there.
Under the guidelines in place before 9/11, FBI agents could not even look at online chat rooms to develop leads on people who might be recruiting terrorists or distributing information on making explosives. The FBI had to determine that there was a sound investigative basis first before it could sign on to chat rooms any 12-year-old could enter.
In other words, “A crime practically had to be committed before you could investigate,” Weldon Kennedy, a former FBI deputy director, tells me. “If you didn’t have that, you couldn’t open an investigation.”
Meanwhile, John M. Deutch, Bill Clinton’s second appointee as director of Central Intelligence, imposed a damaging rule that CIA officers must obtain high-level clearance before recruiting an agent with so-called human rights violations. Yet agents who had murdered or tortured people were the ones who would know what the bad guys were up to.
Deutch’s rule sent a message to CIA officers throughout the agency that it was better to sit in their offices and collect paychecks than to take risks. Ironically, Dennis Blair, Obama’s director of National Intelligence, has appointed Deutch to an advisory panel on spy satellite policy.
Obama has successfully built his career on words. But in the real world, words will not protect us from terrorists. As with Deutch’s rule on recruiting agents, Obama’s and Napolitano’s dainty verbiage sends a message to those on the front lines against terrorists to tread softly.
The media have largely ignored Napolitano’s effort to recast the terminology of the war on terror. Yet, together with the plan to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp without knowing where terrorists will go, the administration’s effort to tip-toe around the word terrorism reflects a president in denial. In an April 2007 debate, Obama betrayed just how much he misunderstands the threats we face. Brian Williams asked the candidate how he would change the U.S. military stance overseas if terrorists hit two American cities simultaneously.
“Well, the first thing we’d have to do is make sure that we’ve got an effective emergency response, something that this administration failed to do when we had a hurricane in New Orleans,” Obama said. “And I think that we have to review how we operate in the event of not only a natural disaster, but also a terrorist attack.”
After the planes hit the World Trade Center in 2001, no emergency response plan would have saved the men and women who jumped to their deaths from windows of the twin towers. Nor would any emergency plan have helped the young children who, with tears streaming down their faces, held up photos of their mothers or fathers, hoping that someone would say they survived the attack.
The next day, The New York Times got it right with a huge headline: “U.S. Attacked.”
Instead of being in denial about terrorism, Obama should constantly warn us of the danger we face. When another attack occurs — possibly killing tens of thousands of Americans — the media will rightly spotlight Napolitano’s silly effort to sugarcoat terrorism as a “man-caused disaster.”
At that point, it will be too late.
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via
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