Editorial January 23, 2015

TheWeekinCongress.com

Editorial

Strangely under-reported is the arrest of 20-year-old Christopher Lee Cornell, a convert to Islam recently arrested for plans to blow up the Capitol building and shoot Members of Congress. According to a canadafreepress.com (CFP) piece Cornell of Ohio began his planning last year on social media and later communicated his intentions to an undercover FBI agent, leading to his recent arrest.

The CFP piece also suggests that the FBI’s hands are tied because procedure is dictated by a Justice Department document called the Touchstone Document on Training. CFP’s take on the document is that it is making us more vulnerable to terrorist who we would let off the hook because we don’t want to impose on their religious beliefs and customs. Political correctness.  In a way it does that, but there is no reason to conclude that the existence of the Touchstone Report makes us more vulnerable. In fact, the report, if anything, affirms that this nation of laws adheres to its laws that include first amendment rights.

Well, we don’t want to impose on religious beliefs and customs. We don’t want to do that because religion is a unifying thing; we tend to think all persons of this religion or that believes this or that. When one person or group within a religion behaves badly we tend to attribute that to all members. The Touchstone Document makes the FBI position clear, “Many terrorist seek to justify their crimes by claiming to be fulfilling their political,  religious, or social beliefs…The FBI must distinguish between protected thought and speech and illegal actions that can be taken in whole or in part based on such ideology. In other words, Thoughts alone are never illegal and extremist speech rarely is unless it incites imminent lawless activity or constitutes a real threat. “

The Document goes further to explain why it requires agents to discern between a threat and freedom of expression, “To achieve its goals the FBI’s training must be accurate, based on current intelligence, and adhere to the FBI’s core values, including rigorous obedience to the US Constitution, fairness, and respect for the dignity of all those we protect.”

The Touchstone Document strengthens protections because without what is proposed in it we could have agents blinded by cognitive bias taking action against those innocent or whose behavior is protected under the Constitution.

The FBI fight against terrorism is, then, complicated but completely in line with US law and philosophy; the job is to protect us from extremist violence but to make sure the job is done within the law including consideration of the rights of those accused. Politically incorrect? If you wish. Legally correct? Definitely.

Congress An ISIS Target

As reported in canadafreepress.com on January 15, 2015 “A Muslim convert trying to join the Islamic State terrorist group was arrested by the FBI in Ohio yesterday for plotting to bomb the United States Capitol and murder government employees.”

But that would not have been the first time Congress was under siege;

Bomb Explodes in Capitol

The Senate had planned to work late into the evening of Monday, November 7, 1983.  Deliberations proceeded more smoothly than expected, however, so the body adjourned at 7:02 p.m.  A crowded reception, held near the Senate Chamber, broke up two hours later.  Consequently, at 10:58 p.m., when a thunderous explosion tore through the second floor of the Capitol’s north wing, the adjacent halls were virtually deserted.  Many lives had been spared. More…


 Quotable on the Issues

“There is an ongoing struggle within Islam between Sunni and Shia, moderates and radicals, modernists and traditionalists that is far from being resolved. … No U.S. narrative or externally generated reform effort can delegitimize the jihadist; only the Muslims themselves can do that,” Aaron David Miller.

“For far too long a disturbing minority of Arabs and Muslims have hijacked a religion in the service of a radical jihad. And as they did this, too many other Muslims have been passive, silent, and acquiescent, failing to condemn them and thus allowing them latitude to operate. Arab governments have sometimes repressed jihadi ideology, but other times — as in the case of Saudi Arabia, itself a victim of terror– tried to accommodate it. Or both.”Read article CNN

Aron David Miller is a vice president and distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and was a Middle East negotiator in Democratic and Republican administrations. The views expressed are his own. ##

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“The war with you has just begun.”

 “Know, O defender of the Cross, that a proxy war will not help you in the Levant, just as it will not help you in Iraq. Soon, you will be in direct conflict—God permitting— against your will.”

In January 2014, Abu Bakr al-Baghdad, ISIS leader threatening the US.


Look Up, Americans, It’s Not As Bad As You Think

By Lee H. Hamilton

“The world around us is in turmoil, under enormous and even volcanic pressures that explode most every morning somewhere, yet we remain an island of stability.”

Hamilton

Hamilton

We are one glum country.

 So I have just one thing to say: Could we all take a deep breath?

 Trust in the federal government is at historic lows, according to Gallup. More than half of the respondents to an October Rasmussen poll think our best days are behind us. More…


Foreign Affairs

CRS Report to Congress on ISIS

The Islamic State (IS, aka the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL/ISIS) is a transnational Sunni Islamist insurgent and terrorist group that has expanded its control over areas of northwestern Iraq and northeastern Syria since 2013, threatening the security of both countries and drawing increased attention from the international community. The Islamic State has thrived in the disaffected Sunni Muslim-inhabited areas of Iraq and in the remote provinces of Syria torn by the civil war. The Islamic State’s tactics have drawn the ire of the international community, increasing U.S. attention on Iraq’s political problems and on the civil war in Syria.

Although the Islamic State is considered a direct threat to U.S. interests in the Middle East, it is unclear if it currently poses a significant direct threat to U.S. homeland security. In September 2014, then-National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen stated that the group poses “a direct and significant threat to us—and to Iraqi and Syrian civilians—in the region and potentially to us here at home.”1 Olsen said that the group’s “strategic goal is to establish an Islamic caliphate through armed conflict with governments it considers apostate—including Iraq, Syria, and the United States.” Olsen further said that “we have no credible information that ISIL is planning to attack the U.S.,” and highlighted potential threats posed by foreign fighters with Western passports. U.S. officials report that as many as 16,000 foreign fighters from 90 countries have travelled to Syria, including more than 1,000 Europeans, and more than 100 U.S. citizens, with approximately 12 Americans believed to be fighting there as of September 2014. More….