Speaking at an elite Aspen Institute forum in Colorado, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson chastised Republican nominee Donald Trump without using the candidate’s name, decrying political rhetoric that “vilifies Muslims.”
“Overheated rhetoric that fans the flames of fear and prejudice has consequences,” he said at the four-day Aspen Security Forum, calling it “a setback to our homeland security efforts.”
The Colorado Springs Gazette reported Johnson said his agency has worked with American Muslims to improve intelligence efforts and get advanced warning of potential lone-wolf terrorist strikes.
“There is very definitely a role for the public to play in this environment,” Johnson said, according to the paper. “The public can and has made a difference through vigilance and awareness.
However, the reality, according to former DHS officer Philip Haney, is that many mainstream Muslim groups in the United States have emphatically renounced the DHS signature motto of “See Something, Say Something” and its Countering Violence Extremism policy, claiming that the approach is biased and stigmatizes Muslims.
Haney asked Johnson rhetorically which Muslim-Americans are helping law enforcement identify terrorists. He noted that “outreach partners” such as the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) have been proven in court to be front groups for the Muslim Brotherhood and openly oppose cooperation with law enforcement agencies such as the FBI.
Haney is author of the bestselling “See Something, Say Nothing: A Homeland Security Officer Exposes the Government’s Submission to Jihad.”
Even a wall not enough
Democrats have criticized Trump for his proposal to block all or some Muslim immigration into the U.S. until the government can sort out how to stop the infiltration of terrorists among the migrants.
Haney believes it’s a rational suggestion, but he said “even a wall around America will not do much good, unless we first honestly and courageously address the goals of Muslim Brotherhood front groups in the United States.”
Their aim, he said, is to implement Islamic law, or Shariah, first within the Muslim community and then the broader society.
“Also, a wall around America won’t solve our border security problems, unless law enforcement officers are actually allowed to enforce immigration and customs law at the land border, as well as the approximately 350 ports of entry in America,” he said.
Last month, Haney testified before a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee chaired by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, that the Obama administration “modified” or eliminated more than 800 of his records related to the Muslim Brotherhood network in the U.S. because they were deemed to be an offense to Muslims and a violation of civil rights.
Two days later, Cruz confronted Jeh Johnson with Haney’s testimony, asking him if it was accurate.
“I have no idea,” Johnson replied. “I don’t know who Mr. Haney is. I wouldn’t know him if he walked in the room.”
At the Aspen event, Johnson said he is optimistic despite threats from ISIS-inspired terrorists and rising racial tensions related to recent police shootings.
“In our world good news is no news and nobody seems to be interested in the good news and the good work of Homeland Security employees every day,” Johnson said, according to The Gazette.
Haney commented: “Just think how much better the good work of Homeland Security employees could be if we were actually allowed to enforce the law, and if vital intelligence information had not been deleted, modified and purged from databases and training courses over the last eight years by the Obama administration.”
The former DHS officer noted the information was purged “with the encouragement and direct involvement of leaders of the very same Muslim-Americans that Johnson praised.”
‘I have not taken the time to investigate’
At the June hearing, Cruz pressed Johnson further when he displayed ignorance of Haney’s testimony.
“So, you have not investigated whether your department ordered documents to be modified?” Cruz asked.
“No, I have not taken the time to investigate what Mr. Haney says. No.” Johnson said.
Cruz then asked Johnson if it would concern him if Haney’s testimony was accurate.
“Senator, I find this whole debate to be interesting, but I have to tell you,” Johnson replied, “when I was at the Department of Defense giving the legal sign-off on a lot of drone strikes, I didn’t particularly care whether the baseball card said Islamic extremist or violent extremist. I think this is very interesting, but it makes no difference to me in terms of who we need to go after, who is determined to attack our homeland.
“I think this is all very interesting, makes for good political debate,” he continued, “but in practical terms, if we, in our efforts, here in the homeland, start giving the Islamic State the credence that they want, to be referred to as part of Islam, or some form of Islam, we get nowhere in our efforts to build bridges with Muslim communities.”
See Sen. Cruz question DHS Secretary Johnson:
Two days before Cruz quizzed Johnson, the senator chaired a hearing titled “Willful Blindness: Consequences of Agency Efforts to Deemphasize Radical Islam in Combating Terrorism.”
In his first opportunity to ask questions, Cruz told Haney his testimony before the committee was “exceptionally important.”
“I commend both members of the media and the American public to examine your testimony closely, because you have described a systematic policy, indeed of scrubbing, sanitizing, erasing references to radical Islam,” Cruz told the recently retired DHS officer.
In addition, Haney said, a highly successful case he helped develop as a member of one of the National Targeting Center’s advanced units was shut down by Hillary Clinton’s State Department and the DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties out of concern for the “rights” of foreign Muslims. And after Haney retired honorably last year, he discovered that had his case continued, it might have prevented both the Orlando and the San Bernardino attacks.
Along with the quashing of the case in June 2012, the administration subsequently ordered the deletion of an additional 67 records concerning a related network.
Note: Media wishing to interview the authors of “See Something, Say Nothing” can contact them here.
See a trailer for “See Something, Say Nothing”: