WASHINGTON – For Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, what the Obama administration won't say speaks louder than words.
It's not just that it won't use the expression "radical Islamic terrorism."
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Or that it scrubbed words such as "jihad" and "Islam" from government anti-terrorism training manuals.
It wouldn't even show up to a Senate hearing to explain why.
And, to Cruz, that spoke volumes.
"The decision of the Obama administration to not let its representatives testify before this subcommittee is proof the president is still in denial, even after the horrific massacre in Orlando, about the true nature of the threat this country faces," Cruz told WND.
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Cruz made the remarks after the conclusion of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee he chaired titled "Willful Blindness: Consequences of Agency Efforts To De-emphasize Radical Islam in Combating Terrorism,"covered in full by WND.
Following the Orlando massacre earlier in June, a visibly irritated Obama defended his refusal to use the expression radical Islam terrorism, claiming it would make no difference.
"What exactly would using this label accomplish?" he rhetorically growled. "What exactly would it change? Would it make ISIS less committed to trying to kill Americans? Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this?"
But the senator described why he believes naming the threat is crucial.
"The president still will not name the enemy or tell the American people just who is targeting them or why," he explained to WND. "Even more disturbingly, he is determined to discredit those sounding the alarm by labeling them Islamophobic bigots."
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Cruz zeroed in on why he believes official silence poses such a danger.
"We need a robust debate on this failed policy, not more of the censorship and information purges that are putting Americans at risk."
The title of the hearing came from the title of a book by Andrew McCarthy, "Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad," a detailed account of his successful prosecution of the first World Trade Center bombers as chief assistant U.S. attorney in New York.
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McCarthy was a key witness in Tuesday's hearing. Afterward, WND asked him why some of his fellow witnesses, in accord with the administration's view, were determined to assign blame to brand-name jihadi groups such as ISIS and al-Qaida, rather than the ideology of radical Islam.
"That miniaturizes the threat by denying there is an overarching ideology connecting all those who would threaten us," McCarthy said.
He explained why that was a futile approach.
"You could wipe out ISIS and al-Qaida from the face of the earth and you'd just keep getting new and different versions of the same thing, until you wound up with an al-Qaida on 42nd Street."
During the hearing, Cruz said the real problem was not that the administration "won't say some magic words," but that they have engaged in a "purge" to eliminate any focus on radical Islamic terror. Meaning, it is not just the words they deny, it's the reality that radical Islam is a motivating ideology.
Cruz maintained a different approach could make all the difference in the world.
During the hearing, the senator said the administration's willful blindness means the San Bernardino and Orlando massacres will keep repeating until the real nature of the threat is acknowledged and steps are taken to prevent such recurrences.
"The whole point of the hearing was to sound the alarm that the Obama administration is willfully denying the vicious enemy that has declared war on America," Cruz told WND.
"And it's not working – we've had the two worst terrorist attacks since 9/11 in 2016, both carried out by ISIS-affiliated radicalized Muslims. This isn't a coincidence, and we have to face reality squarely so we can protect Americans of all faiths from this deadly threat," he said, emphasizing the focus should not be on the Islamic faith or ordinary Muslims, but on the theology of Islamists.
Was it possible, as some of the witnesses suggested, that ISIS, the Islamic State, is not inspired by Islamic beliefs?
"No," the senator succinctly replied. "It is the height of folly to try to argue the Islamic State is not Islamic."
Another key witness at the hearing was former Department of Homeland Security officer Philip Haney, who has recounted what he witnessed in more than a dozen years as a founding member of the DHS in his new bestselling book, "See Something, Say Nothing: A Homeland Security Officer Exposes the Government’s Submission to Jihad."
In his book, the whistleblower chronicles how the Obama administration sabotaged his efforts to stop radical Islamic terrorists and even targeted him with investigations.
On Tuesday, Haney testified that the administration "purged" more than 800 of his records related to the Muslim Brotherhood network in the U.S. because they somehow were an offense to Muslims.
The day before the hearing, Haney told WND, as vulnerable to terrorists as America looks right now, the situation could change dramatically for the better with a few key changes.
The former DHS investigator said it boiled down to just a few key points:
- Take the handcuffs off federal investigators
- Train them to properly identify the enemy
- Enforce the immigration laws
Haney didn't hesitate to spell out what was urgently needed when WND asked before his testimony what the next administration should do to make America safe from jihadi terrorists.
"The first thing we need to do is take the handcuffs off law enforcement officers and allow us to screen and evaluate people who are attempting to enter the country based on existing immigration law."
"Immigration laws do not need to be changed, they need to be enforced," Haney declared emphatically.
Then he'd like to see a training program initiated that would teach key personnel what to look for, without being hindered by their own government. Haney's book describes how law enforcement personnel, including those in the DHS and FBI, have been forbidden from using such terms as jihad when making cases against terrorism suspect.
Haney insisted those changes alone would make a difference.
"It would get the word out to terrorists that America is closed for business," Haney told WND.
'If you do that ground-level training," he said, "the word will get out real fast around the world that you better not come to America if you've got anything bad planned because they'll get you at the border.
"Believe me, I saw it happen when I did the madrasa (Islamic school) case which I discussed in the book. I saw how it works in real life."
Haney said potential terrorists arriving in America know where the weak spots are. They know which cities have the toughest border control interrogators and have spread the word among their cohorts.
If someone arriving in the country aroused suspicion in his primary interview, he would be referred to an interrogator like Haney for a secondary interview.
"I interviewed these young men for four or five years straight," he said. "Then, when they'd come back for Ramadan, they diverted. They would not come to Atlanta where they lived. They go to Detroit, Chicago or New York and passed through without being interviewed for the most part. They knew if they came to Atlanta, I'd be there. They literally knew that. They communicate with each other. They know where the offices with the barriers are and where the easy entry is."
The "easy entry" was provided by under-trained and/or under-informed colleagues.
"They (suspects) would go to other ports (of entry) to be interviewed by colleagues of mine who were not up to speed. They should have picked up work that had been done in Atlanta on these same individuals who came to us and not let them just walk right through primary; they should have send them to secondary. But they weren't paying attention like they should or could have been."
Haney insisted, "If we had a united, solid front across the entire CBP (Customs and Border Protection) agency, believe me you would see things change really fast.
"Just allow the law enforcement officers the guys in CBP, Border Patrol, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) just to do their jobs, take the handcuffs off, and you will be amazed how fast it will turn around. It's well within the realm of possibility. I saw it in real life. I know it.
"I know it," he explained, "because I know how these guys communicate with each other. And I know how they operate tactically. That was my job. I was an intelligence officer. And when they diverted, it told me more about how these guys operate, how they think and how they communicate than almost anything they said when I actually sat with them and interviewed them. They thought they were playing it real smart. But what they didn't realize is that they betrayed themselves with their own actions."
But a lack of communication within Haney's own department wasn't the only institutional impediment.
"Something even more important is that the FBI does not have reciprocity with DHS. They can't share information directly," he explained, "That's created a gap between the FBI and DHS, a gap big enough for terrorists to walk through and they did. (Orlando killer) Omar Mateen walked through it. And who knows how many other people will walk through it? When I say that, I mean it."
Haney described how, if it were not for that lack of communication between agencies, the Orlando massacre might never have happened.
"When Mateen returned back to America the CBP did not know the FBI was investigating him. Meanwhile, the FBI didn't know CBP had talked to him," he said. "They weren't talking to each other; they could've stopped him right there."
Wasn't DHS originally created because of the bureaucratic wall of separation that had prevented communication between the FBI and CIA before 9/11?
"It was," Haney said. "CBP is more security inside the border, which includes all airports. It has more agents than FBI and CIA combined. We were instructed to operate out of mere suspicion. That means if we had any plausible concern about an individual we would interview him, and that was my specialty.
"But we don't share reciprocity with the FBI. So CBP wouldn't know if FBI had already talked to some guy, maybe even twice. And the FBI wouldn't know what CBP knew about him. A lot of people fell through the cracks."
"My own case could have stopped both San Bernardino and Orlando because those mosques were part of the network that I was studying, Tablighi Jamaat, before I was shut down by the government. It wasn't just shut down – the records were actually completely deleted out of the system. Shutdown is one thing; deleting records is another."
Was it just negligence on the part of the government?
"No not negligence. The opposite. They did it deliberately.
"What the administration did was delete information from the system that was related to the Muslim Brotherhood network here in the United States. Of course, the administration has formed an open alliance," with Muslim Brotherhood affiliated groups despite all of the damning information collected on them.