…is how some breathe on Capitol Hill.
Check out this report issued Wednesday by the Committee on Homeland Security’s Republican majority:
The Department of Defense considers the U.S. Homeland the most dangerous place for a G.I. outside of foreign warzones – and the top threat they face here is from violent Islamist extremists.
Many Americans were outraged at the slippery fingers that let Nidal Hasan slip through the Army’s hands and kill 13 Americans, including 12 troops, at Fort Hood in 2009. His Islamic mutterings should have flagged him as unsuitable for service long before he drew a gun on those innocents in Texas. But…
He was a lone wolf. There will be others. They may even amount to a pack. We need to be aware of them, and ensure they are tracked and dealt with. But they are not a threat to the nation.
This latest report – so focused on the threat posed by Islamic fundamentalists to U.S. troops, and their families, here in the U.S. – stands in stark contrast to the debates of 30 years ago when Congress was debating the military might of the Soviet Union.
Yes, the Pentagon’s annual Soviet Military Power books were cartoonish, but – hard as it is to concede — they were closer to the mark than what passes for this House Majority Investigative Report today. Footnotes, italics and varied fonts do not make a report more authoritative. Such flame-throwing does little but to inure the nation to the real threats it faces.
The Pentagon has contributed to it by refusing to state, point-blank, that Islamic extremists in uniform are a threat.
Check out this surrealistic exchange from Wednesday’s hearing, between Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Calif., and Paul Stockton, Assistant Defense Secretary for Homeland Defense:
REPRESENTATIVE DANIEL LUNGREN (R-CA): Secretary Stockton, are we at war with violent Islamist extremism?
MR. STOCKTON: No, sir. We are at war with al-Qaida, its affiliates —
REP. LUNGREN: OK, I understand that. My question is, is violent Islamist extremism at war with us?
MR. STOCKTON: No, sir. We are being attacked by al-Qaida and its allies.
REP. LUNGREN: Is al-Qaida — can it be described as being an exponent of violent Islamist extremism?
MR. STOCKTON: They — al-Qaida are murderers with an ideological agenda —
REP. LUNGREN: No, I — that’s not my question. That wasn’t my question. My question was, is al-Qaida acting out violent Islamist extremism?
MR. STOCKTON: Al-Qaida is a violent organization dedicated to overthrowing the values that we intend to advance —
REP. LUNGREN: So is it yes or no?
MR. STOCKTON: Can I hear the question again? I’ll make it as clear as I can. We are not at war with Islam. And it is not —
REP. LUNGREN: I didn’t ask that — I did not ask that, sir. I asked whether we’re at war with violent Islamist extremism. That’s my question.
MR. STOCKTON: No, we’re at war with al-Qaida and its affiliates.
REP. LUNGREN: Well, al-Qaida — how does al-Qaida define itself? Are they dedicated to violent Islamist extremism?
MR. STOCKTON: Al-Qaida would love to convince Muslims around the world that the United States is at war with Islam.
REP. LUNGREN: I didn’t say that.
MR. STOCKTON: That’s a prime propaganda tool.
REP. LUNGREN: Sir —
MR. STOCKTON: And I’m not going to aid and abet that effort to advance their propaganda goal.
REP. LUNGREN: No, no, my question is, is there a difference between Islam and violent Islamist extremism?
MR. STOCKTON: Sir, with great respect, I don’t believe it’s helpful to frame our adversary as Islamic with any set of qualifiers that we might add, because we are not at war with Islam.
REP. LUNGREN: I understand that. I never said we were at war with Islam. One of the questions we’re trying to deal with is the radicalization of Islam, is the radicalization of Islamic youth. And if we can’t distinguish between violent Islamist extremism and Islam, then all this stuff about behavioral indicators doesn’t mean anything.
Let me — let me ask you this question. Is it a behavioral indicator to put on your card that you’re a soldier of Allah?
MR. STOCKTON: A behavioral indicator that you have a copy of Inspire magazine on your desk —
REP. LUNGREN: That’s not my question. That’s not my question. My question is, is it a behavioral indicator to put on your card that you are a soldier of Allah, as Major Hasan did?
MR. STOCKTON: We have behavioral indicators now that enable our personnel, our supervisors, to focus on detecting indicators of violent extremism that reflect the lessons learned from Fort Hood.
REP. LUNGREN: OK, is that a lesson learned, that if you put a soldier of Allah on your card, that you’ve got to follow up and investigate that?
MR. STOCKTON: We are training our supervisors to follow up on appropriate indicators and exercise the leadership they need in order to provide for effective reporting and intervention.
REP. LUNGREN: You agree with the statement, as someone representing the Department of Defense, on the weekend after the shooting, that it would be a greater tragedy to lose our program of diversity than what had occurred?
MR. STOCKTON: Well, let me go back to something Secretary — Chairman King said. I was trained up by Senator Moynihan. There was nobody less politically correct than Senator Moynihan. I follow the truth wherever it takes me, and I strongly support the programs of the Department of Defense that focus on al-Qaida and behavioral indicators.
REP. LUNGREN: I appreciate it. I appreciate it.
MR. STOCKTON: This is not about political correctness. This is about defeating our adversary.
REP. LUNGREN: Well, sir, I would disagree with you that it may not be about political correctness. We are here talking about the fact that we now have to have behavioral indicators. I agree with that. But my question is, if someone gives inflammatory remarks, as did Major Hasan, in an open setting, if he has on his card that he was a soldier of Allah, it seems to me to be beyond common sense to think those are not behavioral indicators.
So my question is, if I’m a member of the military today and I see those two events or those two circumstances, would it be appropriate for me to report those as behavioral indicators? Now, that’s not a question of whether or not you’re being political (sic) correct, sir. I’m asking you to answer that specific question. If I’m a soldier and asked you that question, what do you tell me?
MR. STOCKTON: Inflammatory rhetoric of the sort associated with Major Hasan — that needs to be reported, and our officers are trained up now to report on that behavior.
REP. LUNGREN: I thank you, and I appreciate that.
There is a market in this country for Islamic phobia. That’s not a problem; that’s part of the off-white noise of democracy. The problem is when lawmakers pump the bellows to turn that white noise into misdirected white-hot fury. And the Pentagon doesn’t help things much with its rhetorical tap-dancing, either.