(CNSNews.com) – The United States cannot “defeat radical Islamic terrorism without acknowledging it exists,” Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) said Tuesday during a hearing on Capitol Hill on the consequences of de-emphasizing “radical Islamic terrorism,” including a failure to prevent terror attacks.
The subcommittee Cruz chairs was looking into what he called the Obama administration’s “willful blindness” after the Department of Justice (DOJ) omitted Islamic terrorism terminology from various government documents.
“The administration has had over and over again ample evidence to step in and prevent these terror attacks, but the consequence of a willful blindness of a policy that is a matter of administration policy refuses to acknowledge the threat means, over and over again, this administration has allowed the threats to go forward,” Cruz said in Washington during a hearing of the Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights And Federal Courts Subcommittee.
“We cannot combat and defeat radical Islamic terrorism without acknowledging it exists and directing our resources to stopping it,” Cruz continued in his opening testimony.
“An Orwellian doublethink that seeks to excerpt any reference to it, as the administration has done to the president of France, or erase pledges of allegiance to ISIS, as the administration did with the Orlando terrorist, is counterproductive to keeping this country safe,” Cruz said.
“That should be the number one obligation of the commander-in-chief. It should be the focus of this administration. And the purpose of this subcommittee hearing is to assess the degree to which the administration is willfully turning a blind eye to radical Islamic terrorism and the consequences for the safety and the security of the American people.”
“Between these two dates, 2008 and 2016, came what I called ‘The First Great Purge.’ When I was ordered by [DHS] Headquarters to ‘modify’, a euphemism, removing all linking information out of approximately 820 text subject records in our law enforcement system, that almost exclusively had to do with Muslim Brotherhood network here in the United States,” Haney said.
“I was told to remove all unauthorized references to terrorism, that I was no longer allowed to do what are call ‘memorandums of information received,’ what we call ‘MOIRs’ – no more text records, no more research and no more special treatment from the agency."
Cruz pointed out in a visual display that references to “jihad”, “muslim” and “Islam” in government documents since the 9/11 Commission Report had decreased from hundreds to near zero by the time the National Intelligence Strategy 2014 report was created.
Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy Forum, testified that addressing political Islam or Islamism is the only way to defeat the violent ideology.
“If the agency actually emphasized the central role of radical Islam and its intended ideologies, it would shift the entire axis of the agency toward one, actually beginning to address, expose and engage the root cause of the theocratic strains of political Islam or Islamism, which would begin to make us safer,” Jasser said.
“We... can’t hold our homeland security accountable for precursors... then we tell them they can’t even engage because all they’re looking at is ‘violent extremism’. The only way to right this deep misdirection is to shift the center of axis from countering violent extremism to countering violent Islamism. You can’t hold them accountable to the precursors unless we identify what it is,” he continued.
However, Farhana Khera, president and executive director of Muslim Advocates, explained how using those terms makes America less safe.
“ISIS wants this to be a war against Islam and by using religiously loaded terminology like jihad, we’re playing into their mindset. … It’s also grossly inaccurate. I think we need to call the threat what is it. It’s ISIS. It’s al-Qaeda,” Khera said.
“And it’s no different from the [Ku Klux Klan] or those who attack abortion clinics. We wouldn’t go and say there’s a problem with radical Christianity or radical Christian terrorism. We call the threat what it is. It’s the KKK. It’s those attacking women’s health clinics,” she continued.
Muslim Advocates called for the DOJ to remove “woefully misinformed statements about Islam,” such as jihad, from training materials in a 2011 open letter because these “materials malign and disparage an entire faith community and their religious practice.”
Cruz closed the hearing reiterating that the “purge” of terroristic ideology references has not stopped terrorist attacks in the U.S. and added that the Senate needs to hold the Obama administration accountable for not preventing them.
“Law enforcement can’t be perfect. We shouldn’t hold them to that standard. But it is the obligation of the Senate to hold them [accountable] when over and over and over again, from Little Rock to Fort Worth to Chattanooga to San Bernardino to the Boston marathon to Fort Hood to Orlando, the red flags are there. The signs are there and yet the administration doesn’t connect the dots and prevent those acts of terrorism,” Cruz said.
The first panel of invited witnesses, which included top security officials John Carlin, assistant attorney general of the DOJ's National Security Division, and Michael Steinbach, executive assistant director of the National Security Branch of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), declined to testify before the subcommittee.
“Both members of the Obama administration refused to appear before this Senate hearing,” Cruz noted. “Again, this subcommittee would have appreciated speaking with government officials about this deliberation omission,” he continued.
Ranking member Chris Coons (D-DE) defended the two DOJ officials, saying their absence might be due to short notice of the hearing and scheduling conflicts.
“As to the empty seats before us and your opening comments, Mr. Chairman, it is my understanding this hearing was scheduled at a bare minimum of notice and no consultation with the invited witnesses from the administration regarding their schedules,” Coons said in his opening statement. “It is my expectation they are busy keeping our country safe.”
But Cruz quickly rebutted Coons’ claim.
“I would note that Senator Coons suggested that perhaps it was scheduling issues [that] prevented the government’s witnesses from attending,” Cruz said.
“This hearing was noticed two weeks ago, and indeed, just a few days ago, a letter from the Department of Justice did not claim any scheduling conflicts. [It] simply stated the Department of Justice declined to attend. I would suggest that was not inadvertent,” Cruz said.