“Hillary’s State Department Refused to Brand Boko Haram as Terrorists”
Quite the legacy she’s leaving behind in her run-up to the “moderate Democrat” presidential run, isn’t it? Daily Beast:
The State Department under Hillary Clinton fought hard against placing the al Qaeda-linked militant group Boko Haram on its official list of foreign terrorist organizations for two years. And now, lawmakers and former U.S. officials are saying that the decision may have hampered the American government’s ability to confront the Nigerian group that shocked the world by abducting hundreds of innocent girls.
In the past week, Clinton, who made protecting women and girls a key pillar of her tenure at the State Department, has been a vocal advocate for the 200 Nigerian girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, the loosely organized group of militants terrorizing northern Nigeria. Her May 4 tweet about the girls, using the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, was cited across the media and widely credited for raising awareness of their plight.
On Wednesday, Clinton said that the abduction of the girls by Boko Haram was “abominable, it’s criminal, it’s an act of terrorism and it really merits the fullest response possible, first and foremost from the government of Nigeria.” Clinton said that as Secretary of State she had numerous meetings with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and had urged the Nigerian government to do more on counterterrorism.
What Clinton didn’t mention was that her own State Department refused to place Boko Haram on the list of foreign terrorist organizations in 2011, after the group bombed the U.N. headquarters in Abuja. The refusal came despite the urging of the Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA, and over a dozen senators and congressmen.
“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,” said a former senior U.S. official who was involved in the debate. “The FBI, the CIA, and the Justice Department really wanted Boko Haram designated, they wanted the authorities that would provide to go after them, and they voiced that repeatedly to elected officials.”
In May 2012, then-Justice Department official Lisa Monaco (now at the White House) wrote to the State Department to urge Clinton to designate Boko Haram as a terrorist organization. The following month, Gen. Carter Ham, the chief of U.S. Africa Command, said that Boko Haram “are likely sharing funds, training, and explosive materials” with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. And yet, Hillary Clinton’s State Department still declined to place Boko Haram on its official terrorist roster.
And why might that be, do you think?
Here, let me venture a guess: neither the President nor Hillary Clinton, each mindful of his or her legacy, and each willing to take calculated risks in order to preserve certain perceptions, could not allow that additional Muslim terrorist groups were popping up at a time the President was telling the American people “al Qaeda is decimated,” and Clinton was being praised for her incomparable foreign policy skills — this itself being a perception the media was helping to cultivate and preserve.
The goal was to get Obama through the 2012 elections. And it worked — in large part because the media and Hillary Clinton were complicit in any number of scandal cover-ups.
Being placed on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations allows U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies to use certain tools and authorities, including several found in the Patriot Act. The designation makes it illegal for any U.S. entities to do business with the group in question. It cuts off access to the U.S. financial system for the organization and anyone associating with it. And the designation also serves to stigmatize and isolate foreign organizations by encouraging other nations to take similar measures.
The State Department’s refusal to designate Boko Haram as a terrorist organization prevented U.S. law enforcement agencies from fully addressing the growing Boko Haram threat in those crucial two years, multiple GOP lawmakers told The Daily Beast.
“For years, Boko Haram has terrorized Nigeria and Western interests in the region with few consequences,” Sen. James Risch told The Daily Beast on Wednesday. “The U.S. government should have moved more quickly to list them as a terrorist organization and brought U.S. resources to track and disrupt their activities. The failure to act swiftly has had consequences.”
Risch and seven other GOP senators introduced legislation in early 2013 that would have forced Clinton to designate the group or explain why she thought it was a bad idea. The State Department lobbied against the legislation at the time, according to internal State Department emails obtained by The Daily Beast.
In the House, leading intelligence-minded lawmakers wrote letter after letter to Clinton urging her to designate Boko Haram as terrorists. The effort in the House was led by then-Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King and Patrick Meehan, chairman of the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence.
Meehan and his Democratic counterpart Jackie Speier put out a lengthy report in 2011 laying out the evidentiary basis for naming Boko Haram a terrorist organization, including the group’s ties to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and to Somalia’s al-Shabab terrorist organization.
In an interview Wednesday, Meehan told The Daily Beast that if Clinton had placed Boko Haram on the terrorism list in 2011, U.S. law enforcement agencies now being deployed to Nigeria to help search for the girls might have been in a better position.
[...] Meehan and others believe that the Clinton State Department underestimated the pace of Boko Haram’s growth and the group’s intention to plan operations that could harm U.S. critical interests abroad.
“At the time, the sentiment that was expressed by the administration was this was a local grievance and therefore not a threat to the United States or its interests,” he said. “They were saying al Qaeda was on the run and our argument was contrary to that. It has metastasized and it is actually in many ways a growing threat and this is a stark example of that.”
Unlike Meehan, I don’t for a second believe the Clinton State Department, having been lobbied so heavily to designate Boko Haram a terrorist group, “underestimated the pace of Boko Haram’s growth and the group’s intention to plan operations that could harm U.S. critical interests abroad” — nor do I believe they thought the organization represented “a local grievance and therefore not a threat to the United States or its interests.” Instead, I believe they wanted to push any evidence of growing Islamic terrorism out of view, at least until after the election. When Benghazi blew up in their faces, they went to work covering that up. And in so doing, neglected to go back and cover their asses with respect to Boko Haram — something Clinton attempted by coming out of the box quickly with her condemnations and her Tweets, the hope being that the mainstream progressive press would give her the same kind of cover by omission that it’s always given Obama.
And she may be right.
My play? Would be to drag her before Congress again and let her play yet another shrieking “what difference does it make?” refrain.
Because this is who she is.
And if we don’t start making it clear, the same duping of the American people that took place when Obama was painted as a pragmatic, educated moderate (albeit the kind who palled around with Khalidi, Ayers, Said, Dohrne, and Jeremy Wright — after having been suckled on the teat of communist propaganda and trained in the tactics of Alinsky and the social justice ruses of Cloward-Piven) is going to repeat itself. After all, how “objective” do you think “newsies” like George Snuffleuffagus or Chelsie Clinton are going to be in the run-up to the next Bush v Clinton election?
At which point, after the conservative base refuses to turn out for Jeb and Hillary is elected, even with Boehner and McConnell as leaders in each chamber of Congress, the imperial Executive — as Obama has expanded it — will continue apace. And we’ll all be toast. By design.