GUEST EDITORIAL — PORTRAITS IN ANTI-ISLAMIST COURAGE — AYAAN HIRSI ALI!

          -- THOMAS SOWELL

— THOMAS SOWELL

THE CAPITULATIONIST
— The Obama Administration Refuses To Negotiate Openly, Lest The Extent Of Its Diplomatic Surrender To Iran Be Prematurely And Fatally Exposed.

By Bret Stephens, courtesy the "Wall Street Journal"

For a sense of the magnitude of the capitulation represented by Barack Obama’s Iran diplomacy, it’s worth recalling what the president said when he was trying to sell his interim nuclear agreement to a Washington, D.C., audience in December 2013.

“We know they don’t need to have an underground, fortified facility like Fordo in order to have a peaceful program,” Mr. Obama said of the Iranians in an interview with Haim Saban, the Israeli-American billionaire philanthropist. “They certainly don’t need a heavy-water reactor at Arak in order to have a peaceful nuclear program. They don’t need some of the advanced centrifuges that they currently possess in order to have a limited, peaceful nuclear program.”

Hardly more than a year later, on the eve of what might be deal-day, here is where those promises stand:

Fordo: “The United States is considering letting Tehran run hundreds of centrifuges at a once-secret, fortified underground bunker in exchange for limits on centrifuge work and research and development at other sites.”—Associated Press, March 26.

Arak: “Today, the six powers negotiating with Iran . . . want the reactor at Arak, still under construction, reconfigured to produce less plutonium, the other bomb fuel.”—The New York Times, March 7.

Advanced centrifuges: “Iran is building about 3,000 advanced uranium-enrichment centrifuges, the Iranian news media reported Sunday, a development likely to add to Western concerns about Tehran’s disputed nuclear program.”—Reuters, March 3.

But the president and his administration made other promises, too. Consider a partial list ...

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The shameless lying that has formed the heart of the Obama administration’s Benghazi narrative took another turn yesterday. Documents obtained by Fox News reveal that U.S. intelligence agencies were “fully aware” weapons were being moved from Benghazi to Syria before the attack on Sept. 11, sales 2012, that claimed the lives of ambassador Christopher Stevens,Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, and diplomat Sean Smith. The documents also put the lie to President Obama’s assertion that the rise of ISIS caught the administration “by surprise.”

“Newly released documents show a serious disconnect between what the administration said, and what was known at the Defense Intelligence Agency, also known as the DIA,” reported Catherine Herridge yesterday morning on “America’s Newsroom.” “This Sept. 16, 2012 memo, copied to the national Security Council, State Department, CIA and others, concluded that the Benghazi attack was planned at least 10 days or more in advance. The DIA memo also reports the attack was tied to 9/11, and was retaliation for a June 2012 drone strike that killed an al Qaeda strategist. There is no discussion of a demonstration or an anti-Islam video,” Herridge added.

The memo is indeed damning. It reveals that the “Brigades of the Captive Omar Abdul Rahman” (BCOAR) who claimed “ultimate responsibility” for the Benghazi attack were engaged in an effort “to kill as many Americans as possible to seek revenge for the [U.S.] killing of Aboyahiye (Alaliby) in Pakistan and in memorial of the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center buildings.” The memo further reveals the Obama administrations knew these terrorists had access to sophisticated weapons, including SA-7 and SA23/4 MANPADs “as well as unidentified missiles over two meters in length.” They knew a force of 120 men under the age of 28, led by Abdul Baset (AZUZ), had established a headquarters and training facility in the city of Derna “where they train almost every day focusing on religious lessons and scripture including three lessons a day of jihadist ideology,” the memo stated.

In addition to sources named by Herridge, the memo was also copied to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Obama White House National Security Council.

A second document from Oct. 2012 is the first official confirmation the Obama administration knew weapons were being shipped to Syrian rebels “from the port of Benghazi, Libya, to the Port of Banias and the Port of Borj Islam, Syria,” an effort made easier by “uncertainty” directly attributable to the downfall of Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi. “The weapons shipped from Syria during late-August 2012 were Sniper rifles, RPG’s and 125mm and 155mm howitzers missiles. The numbers for each weapon were estimated to be: 500 Sniper rifles, 100 RPG launchers with 300 total rounds, and approximately 400 howitzers missiles [200 ea—125mm and 200ea—155 mm.],” the document states.

Why would the Obama administration continue to support the Muslim Brotherhood even after it knew it was tied to the Benghazi terrorist attack and to al Qaeda?

A third document from August 2012 reveals events in Libya were taking a “clear sectarian direction,” and that Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood, and al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) “are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.” The development was seen as creating “dire consequences” for Iraq, as well as facilitating the subsequent rise of ISIS:

This creates the ideal atmosphere for AQI [al Qaeda Iraq] to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi, and will provide a renewed momentum under the presumption of unifying the jihad among Sunni Iraq and Syria, and the rest of the Sunnis in the Arab world against what it considers one enemy, the dissenters. ISI [ISIS] could also declare an Islamic state through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria, which will create grave danger in regards to unifying Iraq and the protection of its territory.

Once again, Americans owe a debt of gratitude to Judicial Watch (JW). A court order demanding the documents’ release arose from JW’s filing of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against both the DOD and State Department on May 15, 2014. The suit sought communications between the two agencies and congressional leaders “on matters related to the activities of any agency or department of the U.S. government at the Special Mission Compound and/or classified annex in Benghazi.” As a result DOD and State were forced to release more than 100 pages of documents previously classified as secret.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton rightly described the implications from the data disclosure. “These documents are jaw-dropping,” he stated.

No wonder we had to file more FOIA lawsuits and wait over two years for them. If the American people had known the truth—that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other top administration officials knew that the Benghazi attack was an al-Qaeda terrorist attack from the get-go—and yet lied and covered this fact up—Mitt Romney might very well be president.

Fitton continued with a highly disturbing question. “And why would the Obama administration continue to support the Muslim Brotherhood even after it knew it was tied to the Benghazi terrorist attack and to al Qaeda? These documents also point to connection between the collapse in Libya and the ISIS war—and confirm that the U.S. knew remarkable details about the transfer of arms from Benghazi to Syrian jihadists. These documents show that the Benghazi cover-up has continued for years and is only unraveling through our independent lawsuits. The Benghazi scandal just got a whole lot worse for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.”

The Judicial Watch revelation comes only one day after the New York Times revealed Clinton used more than one private email address during her tenure as Secretary of State, contradicting claims made by her office in that regard. Clinton used ” hrod17@clintonemail.com” to engage in a series of communications with longtime Clinton hatchet man Sidney Blumenthal. The paper explained that Clinton took seriously much of the information Blumenthal supplied to her, passing it on to members of the State Department and “at times asking them to respond…even after other senior diplomats concluded that Mr. Blumenthal’s assessments were often unreliable.”

Blumenthal was seeking business contracts from the newly formed Libyan transitional government, such as the construction of floating hospitals to take care of the war wounded and the construction of schools, both of which would have required State Department permits. Even as he was advising Clinton on Libya, Blumenthal was employed by the Clinton Foundation and worked on occasion for Media Matters and American Bridge, two leftist organization involved in the 2016 Clinton presidential campaign. “Much of the Libya intelligence that Mr. Blumenthal passed on to Mrs. Clinton appears to have come from a group of business associates he was advising as they sought to win contracts from the Libyan transitional government,” the paper states.

As a result of this relationship, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) who leads the congressional committee investigating Benghazi, has said he will subpoena Blumenthal for a private, transcripted interview.

And the revelations just keep on coming. Yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras announced he will order the State Department to effect a “rolling production” of Clinton emails only hours after the agency announced it would hold them back until January 2016. A Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by Vice News precipitated the order. Their lawyer explained State has one week to provide a general schedule of releases‚Äîand a specific one regarding the release of records related to Benghazi.

For more than two years, the American left has continually insulted the public’s intelligence, insisting “there’s no there there” with regard to Benghazi, embracing the preposterous fraud perpetrated by the Obama administration. And while the litany of lies perpetrated by numerous administration officials, as well the president himself are egregious, one Benghazi lie stands out above all the rest:
“She came over…she talked with me. I gave her a hug and shook her hand and she did not appear to be one bit sincere at all and she mentioned about, ‘We’re going to have that person arrested and prosecuted that did the video,’” recalled Charles Wood, father of Tyrone. “That was the first time I even heard about anything like that.” Wood was referring to the exchange he had with Hillary Clinton when his son’s body arrived at the receiving ceremony on September 14, 2012, two days after his murder.

In a better world that kind of politically-calculated callousness would be chilling. In this one it may be insufficient to derail Clinton’s presidential ambitions. It remains up to the public to determine the outcome.

aaHIRSI ALI ... calling for Islamic reformation .... CONRAD BLACK GUEST EDITORIAL

CONRAD BLACK ON AYAAN HIRSI ALI: ATHEISTS RENOUNCE AND ABSTAIN FROM RELIGIONS — THEY DON’T REFORM THEM

By Conrad Black [with author’s permission]

I had the pleasure this week of meeting Ayaan Hirsi Ali at a most convivial social occasion, having just read her latest book, ambulance Heretic. Most readers will be aware that she fled an arranged marriage as a very young Somalian Muslim woman and abandoned her faith, going first to Germany and then to the Netherlands. She began her new life as a factory cleaning lady and rose to be a Dutch member of parliament and a prominent activist for the victims of militant Islam. She is now a fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and the wife of eminent Anglo-American historian Niall Ferguson, and is an elegant, charming and courageous woman.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali isn’t one to wax sentimental about her mother. “She wanted us to live only according to ‘pure Islam,’ ” the famous Muslim apostate writes — “which to her meant no singing or dancing, no laughter or joy.”

To Ali, the pathologies of Islamist societies aren’t just reflected in exhortations to jihadi violence and the excoriations of infidels. They also are manifest in the relentlessly dour, cloistered, stony-faced texture of day-to-day life.

She states that Islam is “incompatible with modernity,” and summarizes that it primarily requires unlimited faith in the existence and sacred authority of God, Allah, and Mohamed his prophet; prayer five times a day; day-time fasting for the whole ninth month of Ramadan; the practice of charity, and, if possible, at least one pilgrimage to Mecca in one’s lifetime. Only the first of these is seriously problematical (as opposed to personally inconvenient).

Ali’s five requirements for reform are revisions of Mohamed’s semi-divine and infallible status and literalist reading of the Koran, particularly those allegedly revealed to the Prophet at the launch of his most radical phase in Medina in the last 10 years of his life; the de-emphasis of life after death over the present life; the abandonment of the draconian  Shariah law derived from the Koran; an end to empowering individuals to enforce that law arbitrarily, and to the frequent and capricious recourse to jihad, holy war.

The author’s summaries of problems and solutions is plausible, but if her suggestions were enacted, Islam would become just a Golden Rule fellowship; her authority to recommend anything so radical, moreover, suffers for her being not just an apostate, but an atheist. This, as I gently suggested to her, is where her heartfelt argument becomes tenuous. Atheists renounce and abstain from religions; they don’t reform them.

Her call for a Reformation is easy to misunderstand, as the Christian Reformation was anything but atheistic. It was a peculiar alliance between zealots like Luther, Knox and Calvin (who were almost as fervent as the Islamists Ms. Ali dislikes most), and charlatans like Henry VIII (whom, given her feminist views, she could not seriously admire). The Sunni-Shiite split was dynastic, and not doctrinal like Christian schisms.

Mohamed started out as Jesus Christ spent his whole life, as a preacher, and said that he was a continuator of Abraham, Moses, and Christ himself. He had been only moderately successful at this vocation when, aged 52, he was driven out of Mecca to Medina, transmogrified into a warrior unlike those he claimed to emulate, and became a great and often very ruthless conqueror.

Allegedly, God Himself dictated the text of the Koran to Mohamed, via that well-travelled messenger, the saint and archangel Gabriel. Though this is widely disputed by Islamic scholars not under immediate threat of execution or torture for heresy, it does constitute a sharp contrast with the origins of the Bible. The Koran was propagated as Islam spread, unlike the Bible, which was only gradually composed over centuries following the death of Christ.

Ali is right that the West is being both unjust and unwise in not responding more strongly to the massacre and lesser harassment of Christians by Muslims in many countries

While no knowledgeable person would dispute that Christianity has been invoked as an excuse for a good deal of unjustifiable militarism, it is comparatively tolerant, and has very rarely claimed the right to extort adherents under pain of death, which is unfortunately rather commonplace in the history and current practices of Islam. As a result of its allegedly divine authorship, the Koran has stressed omnipotence over free will, the moral value of martyrdom, and a vast and ferocious definition of God’s will. The author reverts to her experience in the Netherlands to explain that the tendency of the Muslim immigrants to that country to litter and not to dispose properly of garbage, when criticized by the host nationality, was ascribed (with doubtful theological authority) to God’s will. Christians pray for God’s guidance or intercession; Muslims recite God’s alleged words as written in the Koran.

Ali says that she is an optimist, essentially because so many of militant Islam’s practices are so odious, and because, despite the professed fidelity of most Muslim populations, there are scientifically canvassed majorities in all major Muslim countries that are concerned about Muslim extremism. She does not believe that militant Islam will be sustainable, as she puts it, in the “absence of reason,” with its belief that there is no real distinction between secular and canon law, its requirement for endless combat and the death penalty for people of other views, and its reliance on the recruitment of martyrs to acts of terror by fantastically explicit Koranic descriptions of heaven. (“There will be two gardens containing all kinds of trees and delights… these places are built of emeralds and jewels… On each bed [there will be] a girl having sweet black eyes… Each believer will be given such strength in the morning as he can cohabitate with them.”)

She must be right that ultimately it will be hard to sell what sounds like an upscale bordello advertisement as the word of God. Her conferral on Mohamed of the status of “greatest lawgiver of all time” only holds where Koranic law supersedes all other law, and this departs from the criteria by which that honour has historically been contested by such legislators as Hammurabi, Justinian, Napoleon and James Madison.

She is skeptical that Islamic regimes will be able to go on maintaining authority with religious police, public executions (with executioners as talkative media personalities), and honour killings conducted in enforcement of family traditions even in liberal non-Muslim countries. She is right, too, that the West is being both unjust and unwise in not responding more strongly to the massacre and lesser harassment of Christians by Muslims (as well as Communists) in many countries, and that the tendency of Western liberals to indulge Islamist extremists as wholly unrepresentative, has the opposite effect to the one intended. But her perspective is not regard for Christianity, but a desire to mobilize the great, if sleepy, power of the traditionally Christian West against those who made her youth miserable and have tormented her ever since.

I think she asks a lot when she calls for Muslim reformers to be accorded the same renown in the West as Alexander Solzhenitsyn or Voltaire — who were, broadly, Westerners calling for reform of the West. For obvious reasons in her own harrowing experience, she exaggerates the threat of Islam to the West. Very few Muslim countries have objectively been successful and they are not a menace on the scale of Hitler or Stalin, cunning totalitarians at the head of great, militarily powerful, more or less Western nations. Islamist terrorists are a horrible nuisance, but they aren’t capable of destroying our civilization and have accomplished almost nothing since the 9/11 (2001) attacks except a few random bombings and shootings. It is not the West that will reform Islam, except in so far as Muslims yield to the temptations of our supposedly decadent mores and folkways, depicted to the Muslim masses on ubiquitous modern media.

I think she asks a lot when she calls for Muslim reformers to be accorded the same renown in the West as Alexander Solzhenitsyn or Voltaire — who were, broadly, Westerners calling for reform of the West. For obvious reasons in her own harrowing experience, she exaggerates the threat of Islam to the West. Very few Muslim countries have objectively been successful and they are not a menace on the scale of Hitler or Stalin, cunning totalitarians at the head of great, militarily powerful, more or less Western nations. Islamist terrorists are a horrible nuisance, but they aren’t capable of destroying our civilization and have accomplished almost nothing since the 9/11 (2001) attacks except a few random bombings and shootings. It is not the West that will reform Islam, except in so far as Muslims yield to the temptations of our supposedly decadent mores and folkways, depicted to the Muslim masses on ubiquitous modern media.

But these are relatively minor cavils. She is a remarkable personality and this is an interesting and readable book.

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This “op-ed” was originally published in the printed & online editions of the “National Post” newspaper on May 16th 2015.
You can e-mail Conrad Black at: cmb@blackam.net

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