Shortly after the Islamist attack in London Saturday, President Donald Trump tweeted: "We need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!" Seconds later, the President tweeted, "Whatever the United States can do to help out in London and the U.K., we will be there - WE ARE WITH YOU. GOD BLESS!"
The next day, President Trump tweeted, "We must stop being politically correct and get down to the business of security for our people. If we don't get smart it will only get worse." Also the next day, several Middle-eastern countries took major moves against Qatar over its support for terror, including its support of the Muslim Brotherhood. According to Patrick Poole, "Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain severed diplomatic ties, setting off a major crisis in the Middle East."
Following are three immediate ways to be smarter, more vigilant, and tougher with our Islamist enemies. But first, a review of "The principle of first and second things" is in order.
In 1942, C.S. Lewis wrote, "You can’t get second things by putting them first; you can get second things only by putting first things first." More recently, Peter Kreeft explained the principle more bluntly: "The society that believes in nothing worth surviving for — beyond mere survival — will not survive."
Survival is a very important second thing. The principles underlying our Constitution, including the freedoms of speech and religion protected by our First Amendment, are first things.
All government officers, military and civilian, take an oath to support and defend the Constitution "against all enemies, foreign and domestic" (5 U.S.C. § 3331). From this principled perspective, our national government should undertake the following three immediate measures.
First, both Congress and the President should identify the Muslim Brotherhood and its various legacy groups, both foreign and domestic, as enemies of the U.S. Constitution.
Notwithstanding recent public relations efforts, one needs only read the motto of the Muslim Brotherhood to understand its incompatibility with our Constitution: "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope."
President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson both pledged to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. They should fulfil that pledge.
Congress should reinforce the urgency of the Secretary of State designation by enacting the "Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act."
Second, Attorney General Jeff Sessions should beef up his National Security Division in order to hold accountable organizations operating in the United States as agents of the international Muslim Brotherhood, the English language website for which is located in London.
The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) was enacted in 1938, at a time when Nazi Germany was distributing pro-Nazi propaganda throughout the United States. It imposes restrictions on agents of foreign principals while respecting American core principles, including free speech and freedom of religion.
According to the Justice Department website, "FARA is a disclosure statute that requires persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities. Disclosure of the required information facilitates evaluation by the government and the American people of the statements and activities of such persons in light of their function as foreign agents."
Attorney General Sessions should make FARA enforcement a priority, especially but not only when the foreign principals engage in terrorism. As explained in another blog, terrorism is merely one tactic of Islamists.
Third, both Congress and the president should empower state and local governments to deal with Islamist threats. One principled way to do this is for Congress to enact a rule of construction for courts and administrative agencies to deal with legal ambiguities in a way that respects powers reserved "to the States respectively, or to the people" pursuant to the 10th Amendment.
Such a rule could be added to the existing rules of construction in the United States Code, and could provide: "Wherever, in the statutes of the United States or in the rulings, regulations, or interpretations of various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States there appears or may appear any ambiguity, such ambiguity shall be construed in favor of ‘reserv[ing powers] to the States respectively, or to the people’ (U.S. Const., Amend. X) in accordance with this guiding principle from the U.S. Supreme Court in New York v. United States, 505 U.S. 144 (1992): ‘The question is not what power the Federal Government ought to have but what powers in fact have been given by the people.’ 505 U.S. at 157 (internal citation omitted)."
How smart would that be? A rule of construction based on the final provision of the Bill of Rights: a classic "first thing" solution designed to achieve a very important "second thing" — what President Trump referred to in his tweet as "the business of security for our people."
Joseph E. Schmitz served as a foreign policy and national security advisor to Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. The opinions expressed in this article are his personal opinions. Schmitz served as Inspector General of the Department of Defense from 2002-2005 and is now a Partner in the law firm Schmitz & Socarras LLP. He graduated with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy, earned his J.D. degree from Stanford Law School, and is author of "The Inspector General Handbook: Fraud, Waste, Abuse, and Other Constitutional ‘Enemies, Foreign and Domestic.’" Read more reports from Joseph E. Schmitz — Click Here Now.
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