U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman is calling out the Obama administration for its decision to shun the phrases "Islamic extremism" and "jihadist" in references to terrorism.
Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, wrote to White House Homeland Security Adviser John Brennan Friday calling the omission dishonest and counterproductive:
"The failure to identify your enemy for what it is – violent Islamist extremism – is offensive and contradicts thousands of years of accepted military and intelligence doctrine to 'know your enemy.' Knowing your enemy is the essence of the craft of intelligence as taught by the father of U.S. intelligence analysis, Sherman Kent, and exemplified by you during your decades of distinguished service in the U.S. Intelligence Community. Accurately identifying our enemies is critical to understanding their motivations, capabilities, and tactics – and to countering them effectively and defeating them decisively."
Lieberman reiterated his point during an appearance on Fox News Sunday, when he said the policy, aimed at cultivating relations with Muslims around the world, could backfire:
"We're not in a war against Islam. It's a group of Islamist extremists who have taken the Muslim religion and made it into a political ideology, and I think if we're not clear about that, we disrespect the overwhelming majority of Muslims who are not extremists."
The decision to avoid references to religious motivation among Islamist terrorist groups extends a policy initiated during the Bush administration. We wondered at the time where such a policy has succeeded. It remains an open question.
In his letter, Lieberman noted his support for expanding America efforts to build better relations with Muslim nations through economic and political outreach. As the Washington Times noted in a weekend editorial, however, "the National Security Strategy is not some kind of outreach initiative, it is the framing document for America's global safety. The United States cannot effectively combat the root causes of Islamic extremism by ignoring them."
Read Lieberman's letter here.