(This post was written Nov. 22)
By Greg Smith
One has to wonder about President Obama’s mental state. The fights he picks seem more to be the reflexive argument against anything his perceived opponents pursue.
As Republicans, joined by many congressional Democrats, respond to the Paris terror attacks by pushing for increased investigations of Syrian refugees coming to the U.S. to prevent letting in terrorists posing as refugees, Obama responds by calling that a foolish, knee-jerk reaction.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s comments were typical of those who want to increase vetting of Syrian refugees entering the U.S., “We cannot let terrorists take advantage of our compassion. This is a moment where it’s better to be safe than to be sorry.”
Obama responded by saying, “We are not well served when, in response to a terrorist attack, we descend into fear and panic. We don’t make good decisions if it’s based on hysteria or an exaggeration of risks.”
Perhaps Obama has forgotten the name Aaron Alexis. In September 2013 Alexis murdered a dozen co-workers at the Washington Naval Yard. To get the job Alexis was granted a top secret security clearance. After the murders an investigation found Alexis never should have been granted a clearance. He had twice been arrested for shooting a gun, including in 2004 when he shot the tires out of a parked vehicle in what he described as a black out caused by intense anger. The second arrest, in 2010, had a similar vibe.
When interviewed for his top-secret clearance and asked about the record of a felony arrest, he told investigators it was for letting air out of tires. That hardly sounds like a felony, but investigators chose to accept his answer and didn’t look into it any further.
A recent 60 Minutes episode highlighted how Alexis, Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden each were able to receive top-secret security clearances despite major red flags. When Manning was 18 his stepmother called 911 and said he threatened her with a knife. While in the Army but before getting his clearance, Manning stabbed someone with a pencil. He was ordered into therapy.
According to 60 Minutes, when Snowden left the CIA, his behavior caused the agency to red-flag his file in case he ever applied for another job, but apparently no action was taken to revoke his security clearance. He later applied for a job that would involve working for the NSA and had to undergo a review of his security clearance, where he simply did not give any detail into his work for the CIA, and obviously investigators didn’t bother to check with the CIA. Snowden went on to commit the largest known theft of U.S. top-secret material, and then went to Russia.
These three persons all lived in the United States, where it should have been pretty easy to track and verify their identities and past. And a top-secret clearance is supposed to be extremely thorough. Something tells me that out of 10,000 refugees coming from Syria, it would be easy to sneak in dozens or even hundreds of jihadists because the review process is bureaucratic in nature, there is little or no ability to track official records or databases in their country of origin, and the Obama administration clearly finds it distasteful to place the security of the United States over the political correctness by which the president lives his life.
The only hysteria involved is Obama’s response to a sensible approach that recognizes the grave danger posed to Americans when jihadists are allowed to enter the country. ©
Greg Smith is a freelance writer and political consultant who lives in Bantam, CT. His blog is found at www.betterfatthanfascist.com.