“A political scrubbing of records”
Obama’s first year in office was a busy one as he worked tirelessly to hinder the government’s ability to identify, locate, track, or make common sense connections between Islamists and terrorism.
In April of 2009, the DHS released a now-infamous report entitled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment” and in which conservatives were labeled potential terrorists not because they are radical militants but because they are pro-life, support the Tenth Amendment, or are veterans.
Michelle Malkin wrote at that time:
It is no coincidence that this report echoes Tea Party-bashing left-wing blogs (check this one out comparing the Tea Party movement to the Weather Underground!) and demonizes the very Americans who will be protesting in the thousands on Wednesday for the nationwide Tax Day Tea Party.
From the report, p.2:
Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.
From the report. p. 3:
(U//LES) Rightwing extremists are harnessing this historical election as a recruitment tool. Many rightwing extremists are antagonistic toward the new presidential administration and its perceived stance on a range of issues, including immigration and citizenship, the expansion of social programs to minorities, and restrictions on firearms ownership and use. Rightwing extremists are increasingly galvanized by these concerns and leverage them as drivers for recruitment. From the 2008 election timeframe to the present, rightwing extremists have capitalized on related racial and political prejudices in expanded propaganda campaigns, thereby reaching out to a wider audience of potential sympathizers.
Also in 2009, the Washington Times reports that a senior White House aide called for the elimination of the term “jihadist” because jihadis should be considered simply “extremists.” Two years later, the Washington Times continues, the White House “ordered a cleansing of training materials that Islamic groups deemed offensive.”
In 2011, the Obama administration ordered the FBI to cease all surveillance on mosques that might be radicalizing potential jihadis in the U. S.; this move was pointed to as a reason that the Boston bombers were not detected before their terrorist attack.
Now, a former DHS employee contends that he was ordered in 2009—the month before the failed attempt of the Christmas Day “underwear bomber“—to edit or delete hundreds of files on individuals connected to Islamic terrorism.
. . . [I]n early November 2009, I was ordered by my superiors at the Department of Homeland Security to delete or modify several hundred records of individuals tied to designated Islamist terror groups like Hamas from the important federal database, the Treasury Enforcement Communications System (TECS). These types of records are the basis for any ability to “connect dots.” Every day, DHS Customs and Border Protection officers watch entering and exiting many individuals associated with known terrorist affiliations, then look for patterns. Enforcing a political scrubbing of records of Muslims greatly affected our ability to do that. Even worse, going forward, my colleagues and I were prohibited from entering pertinent information into the database.
A few weeks later, in my office at the Port of Atlanta, the television hummed with the inevitable Congressional hearings that follow any terrorist attack. While members of Congress grilled Obama administration officials, demanding why their subordinates were still failing to understand the intelligence they had gathered, I was being forced to delete and scrub the records. And I was well aware that, as a result, it was going to be vastly more difficult to “connect the dots” in the future—especially beforean attack occurs.
Haney goes on to explain that had this information not been removed or modified terror attacks after November 2009 might have been prevented.
As the number of successful and attempted Islamic terrorist attacks on America increased, the type of information that the Obama administration ordered removed from travel and national security databases was the kind of information that, if properly assessed, could have prevented subsequent domestic Islamist attacks like the ones committed by Faisal Shahzad (May 2010), Detroit “honor killing” perpetrator Rahim A. Alfetlawi (2011); Amine El Khalifi, who plotted to blow up the U.S. Capitol (2012); Dzhokhar or Tamerlan Tsarnaev who conducted the Boston Marathon bombing (2013); Oklahoma beheading suspect Alton Nolen (2014); or Muhammed Yusuf Abdulazeez, who opened fire on two military installations in Chattanooga, Tennessee (2015).
It is very plausible that one or more of the subsequent terror attacks on the homeland could have been prevented if more subject matter experts in the Department of Homeland Security had been allowed to do our jobs back in late 2009. It is demoralizing—and infuriating—that today, those elusive dots are even harder to find, and harder to connect, than they were during the winter of 2009.
Watch him discuss his concerns about his surveillance program that might have thwarted the San Bernardino terror attack.