Jihad and U.S. Intelligence Sources

May 9, 2008

How could the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence authorize "the largest funding increase in the base Intelligence Budget in history", but refuse to include an amendment that calls for identifying the Jihadist enemy we fight? But that is precisely what happened on May 8.

On May 8th, Congressman Peter Hoekstra attempted to strike a blow for reason and sanity in the war against global Jihadism, by making the rational and consistent definition of our enemy a priority in allocating budget resources for U.S. intelligence programs. Specifically, Congressman Hoekstra was seeking an amendment that "would prohibit the intelligence community from adopting that encumber accurately describing the radical jihadist terrorists that attacked America and continue to threaten the homeland."

A majority of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence disagreed, and Congressman Hoekstra's Intelligence budget amendment on this issue was rejected. To be specific, Congressman Hoekstra states that his amendment was "rejected by committee Democrats." Certainly those 12 members of this Committee should clarify their position. Is it true that the majority of Congressmen Reyes, Boswell, Cramer, Holt, Ruppersberger, Tierney, Thompson, Langevin, Murphy, Schiff, Congresswomen Eshoo and Schakowsky, are not concerned about defining the Jihadist enemy? This is a far more disturbing development than the recent DHS and NCTC memos themselves.

Clearly the American people need an accounting of who voted against this amendment.The members of this House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (of any party) who rejected this amendment have an obligation to inform the American people why they do not view defining the Jihadist enemy as a priority in authorizing funding for intelligence operations. American citizens have a responsibility to contact these members and get an explanation as to why the consistent understanding of the Jihadist enemy is not a priority in our intelligence operations, according to House Committee members who voted against the Hoekstra amendment. Americans concerned about Jihad should take action and to these Congressmen and Congresswomen.

Why the Intelligence Amendment on Jihadism Was So Important

The failure to clearly identify America's enemy is a symptom of the larger failure to develop an overall blueprint strategy to expand on the September 18, 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) - and develop a definition of the enemy and comprehensive strategy to defeat them. While most of the focus in the media and political leadership remains on debating individual tactical operations, AP and UPI recently reported about efforts of National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) groups to redefine the enemy as anything but "jihadists", as well as telling U.S. government employees not to use any references to "Jihad", "Islamic", "Islamist", "mujahadeen", "caliphate", etc. - when discussing the enemy. On April 24th, AP reported that the U.S. State Department officially authorized these memoranda on terminology for distribution to U.S. government employees.

Since the initial AP report on this story, the Investigative Project on Terrorism has released a January 2008 DHS Civil Rights and Civil Liberties memorandum on terminology to use in defining the enemy based on recommendations from American Muslim "experts" and a March 2008 NCTC memorandum on guidance from NCTC's Extremist Messaging Branch as to terms to use in defining the enemy.

Since the initial reports, there have been numerous reports and commentary on the illogic of banning "Jihad" from America's lexicon in describing the enemy. Just two days earlier on May 6th at the House Rayburn Building, was addressing this very issue on the "War of Ideas" and the vital need to effectively define the threat of Jihadism, which he has also addressed in his book "The Confrontation: Winning the War against Future Jihad".

On May 8th, no doubt Congressman Hoekstra (like many of us) was wondering what on earth the Civil Rights department of DHS and the Extremist Messaging Branch of NCTC was doing in making war policy and redefining the enemy as something other than Jihadists. Per Congressman Hoekstra: "Al-Qaeda knows point blank that they want to kill Americans. How sad is it that as we approach the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we are still debating how to define our enemy?" How sad and inexcusable, indeed.

The House Intelligence Committee's Decision

The Intelligence Bill being reviewed by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence was not any routine legislation. As described in the Committee's May 8th press release:
-- "the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence approved the Fiscal Year 2009 Intelligence Authorization Act (H.R. 5959), authorizing the largest funding increase in the base Intelligence Budget in history. The bill passed the Committee by voice vote and now goes to the full House for consideration."

While the majority of the Committee was unconcerned about defining the Jihadist enemy, it was concerned about:

-- "funding to understand the impact of climate change on national and energy security"

How can the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence believe that "global warming" is more important to American taxpayer funding of intelligence operations than defining the Jihadist enemy? Has complacency about the Jihadist enemy gotten that severe, even among our elected representatives?

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman, Congressman Silvestre Reyes, will no doubt be remembered for his confusion about al Qaeda. It was Congressman Silvestre Reyes who demonstrated during an interview with Congressional Quarterly in December 2006, that he had no idea as to whether al Qaeda's ideology was based on Sunni or Shiite Islam. Per Chairman Reyes, al Qaeda is "[p]redominantly - probably Shiite", when it is Sunni-based. (Not surprisingly, Chairman Reyes didn't know what Islamic ideology Hezbollah was based on either.) Is it possible that the majority of Congressman Reyes' Intelligence Committee don't understand Jihad either?

Congressman Hoekstra's amendment was to ensure that intelligence program funding would reflect a coherent and consistent definition of the Jihadist enemy. But apparently that was just too much common sense for the House Intelligence Committee. However, the larger issue is that if there are members of the House Intelligence Committee think that America is not at war with Jihadists, the American public needs to know who and why.

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