The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has expressed concern at and opposition to the nomination by President Barack Obama of John O. Brennan to head the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The ZOA has pointed out that John Brennan, who is currently President Obama’s chief security adviser for counter-terrorism, has been a leading figure in the failure of the Obama Administration to name the enemy – radical Islam – waging war on the U.S.; has called Jerusalem by its Arabic name, Al-Quds, has whitewashed the Lebanese terrorist group, Hizballah; and been implicated in serious intelligence failures:
- July 2008: In an article in the July 2008 edition of the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Brennan blamed the bad relations between Iran and the U.S., not on the nature of the Iranian regime and its goals, but at least in large part on what he called “iran-bashing.” Brennan stated that, “A critical step toward improved U.S.-Iranian relations would be for U.S. officials to cease public Iran-bashing, a tactic that may have served short-term domestic political interests but that has heretofore been wholly counterproductive to U.S. strategic interests” (Mark Mazetti, ‘Candidates for Obama’s Inner Circle | JOHN O. BRENNAN,’ New York Times, November 18, 2008). Brennan also accepted the now obviously and spectacularly wrong 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate that asserted that Iran had ceased work on its nuclear program in 2003 and on this basis criticized President George W. Bush for continuing to pressure Iran on the subject, writing that, “Despite a December 2007 National Intelligence Estimate that assessed ‘in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program,’ the administration indicated no interest in easing the pressure on Iran” (Steven J. Rosen, ‘Does Brennan’s influence at NSC extend to Iran?,’ Obama Mideast Monitor, February 28, 2009).
- May 2009: Brennan offered a public apologia for the Obama Administration’s policy of discarding basic, factual terms like ‘radical Islam,’ ‘Islamism,’ and ‘jihad’ in reference to the war being waged against America and its allies by Muslim extremists. Addressing the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Brennan said that “describing our enemy in religious terms would lend credence to the lie propagated by al Qaeda and its affiliates to justify terrorism, that the United States is somehow at war against Islam. The reality, of course, is that we have never been and will never be at war with Islam. After all, Islam, like so many faiths, is part of America … Nor do we describe our enemy as jihadists or Islamists because jihad is holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam meaning to purify oneself of one’s community” (Rowan Scarborough, ‘Obama at odds with Petraeus doctrine on “Islam,”’ Washington Times, July 11, 2010).
- In August 2009, Brennan again addressing the CSIS, said the Lebanese terrorist group Hizballah, “started out as purely a terrorist organization back in the early ’80s and has evolved significantly over time. And now it has members of parliament, in the cabinet; there are lawyers, doctors, others who are part of the Hezbollah organization … Hamas, on the other hand … developed an extremist and terrorist element to it that, I think, has unfortunately delegitimized it in the eyes of many.” The Nation contributing editor Robert Dreyfuss also disclosed that, before assuming his current position as President Obama’s top counter-terrorist adviser, Brennan told him that talking to Hamas and Hezbollah is the right thing to do (Robert Dreyfuss, ‘White House Opening to Hezbollah, Hamas?’ The Nation, August 10, 2009).
- December 2009: When would-be underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab nearly brought down a U.S.-bound Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day 2009, Brennan was criticized because British intelligence authorities had notified their U.S. counterparts of an “Umar Farouk” meeting with al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen, and Abdulmutallab’s father had warned of his son’s increasing extremism to CIA officials at the U.S. embassy in Nigeria. However, Abdulmutallab was never added to the U.S. no-fly list, nor was his U.S. visa revoked. This led by the House and Senate Intelligence oversight committees to call for Brennan’s resignation (Patrick Poole, ‘The unprecedented power has even Obama administration officials worried,’ PJ Media, June 6, 2012).
- February 2010, Brennan defended the policy of treating Abdulmutallab as a criminal by having his rights read to him upon arrest and trying him in civilian court, rather than transferring the would-be bomber to military custody as an enemy combatant, claiming during a speech at New York University’s Law School, that he supported the administration’s highly unpopular move to try al-Qaeda operations chief Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in federal court (Joel Gerstein, ‘Brennan, unruffled, talks terror at NYU,’ Politico, February 28, 2010). In the same speech, he also referred to Jerusalem by its Arabic name, Al-Quds, saying, “In all my travels the city I have come to love most is al-Quds, Jerusalem” (‘Counterterror Adviser Defends Jihad as ‘Legitimate Tenet of Islam,’ Fox News, May 27, 2010).
- May 2010, in a speech to the CSIS, Brennan called jihad a “legitimate tenet of Islam,” arguing that the term “jihadists” should not be used to describe America’s enemies.” He described violent extremists as victims of “political, economic and social forces” but said that those plotting attacks on the U.S. should not be described in “religious terms” (‘Counterterror Adviser Defends Jihad as ‘Legitimate Tenet of Islam, Fox News, May 27, 2010).
- September 2010: On Brennan’s watch, a top U.S. Hamas official, Kifah Mustafa, was permitted to tour of the top-secret National Counterterrorism Center, FBI headquarters in Washington D.C., and the FBI training academy at Quantico. Mustafa had already been named in 2007 and 2008 as an unindicted coconspirator as a registered agent for Holy Land Foundation, a Hamas fund-raising front closed by the Bush administration after the largest terrorism financing prosecution in American history. Evidence produced in court showed Mustafa to have participated in a fundraising troupe singing “‘I am a member of Hamas’ as well as other songs glorifying violence and inciting the murder of Jews” (Patrick Poole, ’10 Failures of the U.S. Government on the Domestic Terrorism Threat,’ Center for Security Policy, 2010). Following this, several former top intelligence and defense officials again called for his resignation (‘National Security Hawks Call for Brennan’s Resignation,’ Fox News, September 28, 2010).
- May 2012: Brennan was implicated in a serious intelligence breach detailing an ongoing counterterrorism operation led by British and Saudi intelligence agencies that had placed an operative inside the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) organization. The White House leak forced the termination of the operation and the immediate withdrawal of the double agent (‘Exclusive: Did White House “spin” tip a covert op?,’ Reuters, May 18, 2012).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “One of our biggest failings in dealing with Islamist extremism at home and abroad has been the failure to acknowledge that the extremism is rooted in religion. This does not mean all Muslims are enemies – in fact, it is important to have Muslim moderates fighting on our side – but it does mean that we have to confront the fact that the inspiration for the terrorists’ hostility and that of their supporters and enablers here and overseas stems from their religious beliefs.
“That being the case, it is deeply worrying that the Obama Administration continues to deny this and refuses to educate the American public and, no less important, U.S. military and intelligence, on the nature of the enemy. Major counter-terrorism manuals, for example, the February 2010 Quadrennial Homeland Security Review Report, do not even refer to Islamic extremism or jihad. Yet it is jihad – the use of war to extend and perpetuate the dominion of Islam over non-believers – that motivates the terrorists we are fighting.
“America does not become at peace with radical Islamic terrorists who regard themselves at war with the United States simply by choosing to ignore the ideology that animates them.
“Are people aware that, in October 2011, the Obama administration recalled all training materials used for the law enforcement and national security agencies in order to eliminate all references to Islam, following objections from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)? These are both Muslim Brotherhood linked, Islamist organizations.
“If the Obama Administration sees nothing wrong with the Muslim Brotherhood – and it doesn’t, seeing that President Obama supported the replacement in Egypt of the Hosni Mubarak regime by one in which the Muslim Brotherhood would predominate – then our ability to deal with these threats in the long-term are compromised.
“In that context, the nomination of John Brennan for head of the CIA – someone who has whitewashed Hizballah as a moderating, legitimate political group, pretends jihad is a harmless and unproblematic Muslim religious obligation, and called Jerusalem Al-Quds – is deeply worrying and a further sign of the disastrously wrong direction the Obama Administration is taking the U.S.”