Tags: US | Nigeria | Boko Haram | Hillary Clinton

Vitter: Clinton State Dept. Lied to Whitewash Boko Haram Threat

Image: Vitter: Clinton State Dept. Lied to Whitewash Boko Haram Threat

By    |   Tuesday, 10 Jun 2014 11:10 PM

U.S. Sen. David Vitter is accusing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the State Department of  “deliberately” downplaying the danger posed by the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram.

In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, the Louisiana Republican claimed that Clinton aides misled Congress in an attempt to avoid designating the al-Qaida-linked group as a terrorist organization, The Washington Free Beacon reported.

The State Department said “that it did not have data available or the necessary understanding to make the determination” that Boko Haram constituted a foreign terrorist organization under U.S. law, the Louisiana Republican wrote.

That claim was false, according to Vitter, who said the data was available but disregarded by Clinton and the State Department because they were determined to play down the threat posed by Boko Haram.

The Daily Beast reported that Clinton and the State Department refused to place Boko Haram on the list of foreign terrorist organizations following the August 2011 bombing of U.N. headquarters in Abuja, which killed at least 23 people and injured 81.

Her refusal came despite the urgings of the FBI, the Justice Department, the CIA, and numerous members of Congress to add the jihadist group to the list.

“The one thing she could have done, the one tool she had at her disposal, she didn’t use. And nobody can say she wasn’t urged to do it. It’s gross hypocrisy,” a former senior U.S. official who was involved in the debate told The Daily Beast last month.

The official’s comments came as the former secretary of state denounced Boko Haram’s kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls as “criminal” and “an act of terrorism.”

But during her tenure as the United States’ top diplomat, the State Department disregarded evidence compiled by the U.S. government’s National Counterterrorism Center showing that Boko Haram  was becoming one of the most lethal terrorist organizations in the world, according to Vitter.

In 2011, the counterterrorism center in 2011 “provided the State Department with the statistical information necessary to determine that Boko Haram was engaged in terrorist activity,” he said. But the State Department failed to provide this information in its annual report to Congress on terror – leaving lawmakers in the dark about the extremist group’s growing influence.

A 2012 counterterrorism center report stated that Africa experienced 978 attacks in 2011, representing an 11.5 percent increase from the previous year. It attributed the increase to “the more aggressive attack tempo of the Nigeria-based terrorist group Boko Haram.”

The State Department’s own reports from 2009 to 2013 further demonstrate that Boko Haram “steadily increased in deadliness and its connectivity to terrorist organizations,” according to Vitter.

Boko Haram, which killed an estimated 4,000 people from 2009 to 2013, surpassed Somalia’s al-Shabaab and al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula as the leading regional terrorist group, according to the Free Beacon.

After Boko Haram carried out the 2011 Abuja attack, Vitter wrote, the Clinton State Department “largely dismissed the events and that data,” claiming in a report to Congress that “no terrorist attacks occurred in the Southern states of Nigeria.”

Vitter believes there may have been an “internal decision to manipulate words and mislead Congress,” and wants Kerry to respond by July 10.  Kerry added the Nigerian group to the U.S. terror list in November.

Clinton has not responded directly to Vitter’s charges. But her defenders like columnist  Dana Milbank have termed criticism of her handling of Boko Haram’s terror designation a “smear” and have suggested the subject is more of a symbolic matter than a substantive response to terrorism.

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U.S. Sen. David Vitter is accusing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the State Department of “deliberately” downplaying the danger posed by the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram.
US, Nigeria, Boko Haram, Hillary Clinton
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2014-10-10
Tuesday, 10 Jun 2014 11:10 PM
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