In early November, Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez set out on a mission. Voicing his deep hatred for Barack Obama to friends in Idaho, Ortega embarked upon a mission to assassinate the President. Those to whom Ortega had confided about his mission knew, armed with an assault rifle, he possessed the means to do so. Yet, by the time Ortega acted on his intentions on November 11, shooting at a White House window, not one witness had stepped forward to warn authorities about his mission. While none had a legal obligation to do so, they clearly had a moral one. Only for want of a well conceived plan to isolate the President as a target, Ortega’s mission failed.
There is irony, however, in the inaction of those who failed to forewarn the President of a serious threat to his life and the inaction of a President to forewarn and protect us against a major threat to ours. Whereas the failure of those in the Ortega incident did not violate a legal obligation, we must ask whether Obama’s failure to do so does.
Just as Ortega openly declared his intentions to do violence to the President, so too has a group of Islalmist terrorists declared its intentions to destroy us. Just as Ortega armed himself with an assault rifle with which to carry out his declared intention, so too has this group sought to arm itself with a nuclear capability to carry out its declared intention. And, just as Ortega made good on his intention to undertake a violent act, this group has made clear it is preparing to do so.
It is ironic that, had the witnesses in the Ortega incident reported the wannabe assassin’s intentions, the Secret Service would have taken action to remove or otherwise isolate the threat from the President. Yet, the President has done nothing to forewarn Americans about this group’s positioning itself to act upon its promise to destroy us or to prevent these terrorists from so doing.
The President’s act of omission in failing to contain this Islamic extremist threat was accompanied by an act of commission for issuing national security guidelines that identify “terrorism” as a danger to America but refuse to link it in any way to extremist views of Islam. In delivering his first Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR) to Congress last year, Obama—in an effort not to offend moderate Muslims—mandated no reference be made to “Islam,” “Islamic extremism,” or “jihad.”
While the QHSR does reference the terrorist group al-Qaeda by name, it avoids the nexus that the threat it poses to the US and its stated intention to destroy us stems from its adherence to extremist Islamic religious beliefs. There is further irony in Obama’s decision to avoid references to Islam in his QHSR.
Prior to Obama taking office, President George Bush authorized the use of drones to target leaders of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Under Obama, the use of drones has intensified, effectively eliminating dozens of high profile leaders from among these groups. Every drone assassination to date has targeted a terrorist leader sharing a common trait—a belief in Islamic extremism. Thus, while Obama recognizes the importance of eliminating Islamists via drone targeting, he fails to recognize of equal importance educating the American people via his national security guidelines as to the exact nature of the terrorist threat. Rather than link the threat to Muslims adhering to Islamic extremist beliefs, he chooses to avoid any reference to Islam.
Specifically naming al-Qaeda in his national security guidelines and then targeting its leaders for assassination suggests Obama believes, rightfully so, that all its members are Islamic extremists. But what those guidelines fail to recognize is that the reverse is not true—i.e., not all Islamic extremists are members of al-Qaeda. Although the Taliban is not mentioned in the guidelines, Obama has authorized targeting its leadership too as he recognizes that group’s tie to Islamic extremism. But both the Taliban and al-Qaeda are terrorist groups only representing Islam’s Sunni sect extremists. Meanwhile, the President does little, if anything, to educate Americans as to a far greater threat posed by Islam’s Shiite sect extremists. And, as that threat increases, he does nothing to defuse it.
The single greatest threat to America’s national security today is posed by a group of Islamic Shiite extremists, led by their Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and their non-cleric president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in Iran. These two men are on a mission to arm Iran with nuclear weapons. Both claim they have already been visited by the Mahdi—a religious figure who disappeared in the ninth century as a child, ascending into a state of occultation where he remains until conditions are right for his return to Earth. Upon his return, Mahdi supposedly will restore Islam’s greatness as non-Muslims subordinate themselves to the religion or die. And both men claim Mahdi’s return will come soon, during their lifetimes, possibly in 2012.
While uninformed non-Muslims might content themselves believing time will simply prove these two religious zealots wrong, time is exactly what the Iranian leaders are banking on to enable them to create the right conditions for Mahdi’s return. However, while non-believers know Mahdi’s return will never occur, it is the conditions Iran’s two madmen seek to create for the rest of the world to usher in Mahdi’s return that should generate great concern for us.
Khamenei and Ahmadinejad believe the door for Mahdi’s return will only open once the world is immersed in global chaos. It does not take a rocket scientist to recognize this is why Tehran’s leaders seek to possess nuclear weapons. In their minds, use of those weapons will be the key to unlock the door. This game plan for Mahdi’s return has been set forth numerous times by Iran’s leadership. Not only does our President fail to heed Tehran’s message, he fails to warn the American people of an assassin who has us in the crosshairs of his nuclear “sights.”
While Obama’s actions of omission and commission have increased the threat posed by Tehran, last week the President added to the equation an act of submission.
In a rare example of bipartisan cooperation, the Senate last week passed a bill by a vote of 100 to 0 to impose the most stringent sanctions to date against Iran. The Senate, taking heed of a November 9, 2011 International Atomic Energy Agency report that Iran will, within a year, possess a nuclear weapon, sought to take action now to impose sanctions that would have a much harsher impact on Iran’s economy. The vote was an indictment by both political parties that Obama is a weak fish in stopping Iran’s nuclear arms program. Even our European allies favor an effort to impose tougher sanctions on Tehran. Yet, inexplicably, the President’s response to the Senate vote was simply to raise his objection to its passing the legislation.
And the President has gone even further in his effort not to interfere with Iran’s nuclear objectives. While Obama said on November 30 the US will not compromise on Israel’s security, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta delivered a speech three days later arguing against Israel attacking Iran. Thus the President, by his actions, not only demonstrates to Iran he will not take military action or impose stricter economic sanctions, but that he also will discourage Israel from taking action independently. Obama is telling Tehran he will accept a nuclear armed Iran.
There is an interesting difference between the oath Obama took when he was sworn in as President and the oath a military officer takes. Obama swore he would “to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Military officers are held to a higher standard swearing to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” ending with “So help me God.” The wiggle words “to the best of my ability” in the presidential oath would relieve Commander-in-Chief Obama of liability for naively and negligently choosing not to defend against an obvious Islamic extremist threat to our national security. Once Iran lets loose its nuclear fury, that will be the point at which Obama unleashes a US military force, led by officers sworn to the defense of our country, to do what he refused to do. But, by that time, millions will have died as a result of his naiveté.
Family Security Matters Contributing Editor Lt. Colonel James G. Zumwalt, USMC (ret) is a retired Marine infantry officer who served in the Vietnam War, the US invasion of Panama and the first Gulf war. He is the author of “Bare Feet, Iron Will–Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam’s Battlefields” and frequently writes on foreign policy and defense issues.