Naivety or the Failure to Face Reality.

January 5, 2010


I worked for many years as a French-speaking travel guide, taking French tourists to Thailand, China, Singapore, India, Pakistan, and North Africa. We were always received by a local French-speaking guide. Often we would encounter other groups from other European countries, the United States, Japan, and India staying in the same hotels. In the evenings, the local guides from those groups would get together with us, and one of the favorite subjects of discussions was the national characteristic of the groups we were responsible for. It is extraordinary how the national stereotypes emerged over and over again: the Japanese were disciplined and polite but we never know what they really thought; the Germans were arrogant and authoritarian; the French were rude and obessesed with food; the Spanish were passionate and fiery. And the Americans? They were easy to handle and please, and incredibly naïve. One of the definitions of naïve is "overtrusting", and at we get the following: "having or showing a lack of experience, judgment, or information; credulous."

Faced with a formidable enemy- Radical Islam- the approach of the U.S. administration, the U.S. military, the F.B.I., and the Department of Homeland Security can only be called, at best, näive. How else would you characterise the fact that the Pentagon hired a Muslim who was in fact running an "influence operation" on behalf of U.S. Muslim groups fronting for the radical Muslim Brotherhood? And how about the National Counterterrorism Center's (NCTC) hiring of Yasir Qadhi as a de-radicalization expert? Qadhi has been on the on the terror watch list for years! Qadhi's Ilmquest media company had been selling more than a dozen audio CD sets by al-Qaeda cleric Awlaqi, even after the cleric had been tied to the Ft. Hood shootings. This is more than naïve, it is sick.

Then there is the jock-strap bomber, Abdulmutallab: does it make sense to go on calling him an "isolated terrorist"? As Martin Peretz in the New Republic put it, "I believe that it is Obama's perception of Abdulmutallab as an "isolated extremist" that is the real source of the intelligence calamity so dramatically revealed in this case. It is true, of course, that this dispiriting intelligence failure goes back to the Clinton and Bush years, even though Bush did almost uniquely grasp the very essence of the holy Muslim terror. But what the president has done is to wrap the Islamic orbit in a sweetly scented cashmere afghan (if you'll permit this ironic choice of words) that disguises the reality of the real Islam of this world. Obama has done this grandly several times, most especially with his addresses in Istanbul and Cairo, but also in his more quotidian remarks. The failure of the CIA and the other alphabet agencies to connect the dots is a methodological failure. The president's failure to grasp the realities is an ideological and psychological failure".


#1 UncleJim on Tuesday January 05, 2010 at 2:39pm

I didn’t vote for Obama because of his lack of experience and his lack of having done nothing at all related to how America has achieved it deserved place of dominance in the world.

It is impossible to have been able to predict how dangerous a man he actually is. A very dangerous man who is now the Commander and Chief of the most powerful nation to ever exist on the face of the earth.

My opinion is that his policies, unless he is removed from office, will eventually destroy our ability to function in the world.

#2 SimonSays on Wednesday January 06, 2010 at 7:13am

When someone praises Bush’s anti-terrorism policies it should be enough to start alarm bells ringing as far as not only their ideological stance, but also their grasp on reality.

Marty Peretz is hardly a neutral observer and should not be quoted in any kind of reasonable discussion of this type.

Here is a recent article documenting his bloodthirsty rants during last year’s war in Gaza:

As well as a slightly older one were there are several examples of his tacit (if not overt) racist comments about arabs and muslims:

Also, regarding Yasir Qadhi and the unnamed person hired by the Pentagon, were these people actually convicted (or even prosecuted) of anything?

#3 Max (Guest) on Sunday January 10, 2010 at 6:39pm

“Also, regarding Yasir Qadhi and the unnamed person hired by the Pentagon, were these people actually convicted (or even prosecuted) of anything?”

Was Nidal Malik Hasan convicted of anything before he went on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood? No, he just posted some messages on the net, gave a presentation in class, exchanged emails with Awlaqi, all legal, move along, nothing to see here.
And they call Americans naive…

#4 SimonSays on Sunday January 10, 2010 at 8:45pm

Max: I do not understand the point you are trying to make. Are you claiming that the gentlemen referenced in the blog post displayed the same warning signs as Nidal Malik Hasan? If so, then that obviously changes things.

However, at a time when the vast majority of Guantanamo detainees have been freed or cleared for release, to simply state that someone is on a “Terror Watch List”, does not automatically imply that they should be punished for something.

#5 UncleJim on Sunday January 10, 2010 at 9:16pm

It is true that a person placed on a Terror Watch List may be wrongly identified. That will upset their life for a long time. So what?

To imply they got there for “no good reason” is; in my opinion, is naive. It is better they be controlled until proved Innocent rather than turn your back and pay the price at a later date.

In my opinion our President is a back turning American coward.

#6 Max (Guest) on Sunday January 10, 2010 at 10:02pm

At a time when a released Guantanamo detainee emerges as the deputy leader of al-Qaeda’s Yemeni branch, and a trusted informant kills seven CIA operatives, we have to ask how Americans can be so naive.
They did place Yasir Qadhi on the Terror Watch List, but the NCTC also added Abdulmutallab to their list, and the FBI investigated Nidal Malik Hasan, and what good did it do if they just sit on it?
Subjecting suspicious passengers to a secondary screening, or not hiring someone who fails a background check is standard procedure, not punishment.

#7 SimonSays on Wednesday January 13, 2010 at 6:42am

UncleJim: You may advocate for a legal system where defendants have to “prove their innocence” if you wish. However this would be quite a reversal of our long-standing Constitutional protections. Allow me to respectfully disagree.

Max: Can you provide a source for the story of the released Guantanamo detainee that is “deputy leader of Al-Qaeda’s Yemeni branch”? TPM has documented how there was a similar ABC story about two Yemeni detainees that has since been corrected for the fact that it was soon discovered that one of the mentioned detainees had surrendered to the Saudi authorities in February and therefore “therefore could not have played a direct role in organizing the attempt to bring down Northwest flight 253.”:

The article also notes:

To be perfectly clear, if ABC’s new version of the report is accurate, that one of the four leaders who planned the attack was a former Gitmo detainee, that’s a big story. But we haven’t seen solid reporting elsewhere on who specifically planned the attack.

#8 UncleJim on Wednesday January 13, 2010 at 8:02am

I didn’t actually say that, but I can see where you are coming from. However when a person is in a combat zone, carrying a gun and is using it to shoot at US military personal; his actions prove his intentions are to kill US military personal. That is why he was picked up and is now being held.

I stand by my stated position.

#9 SimonSays on Wednesday January 13, 2010 at 8:19am

UnlceJim: Who are you referring to? I am confused.

#10 UncleJim on Wednesday January 13, 2010 at 8:23am

SimonSays: Whoever it was that wrote post #7

#11 SimonSays on Wednesday January 13, 2010 at 8:34am

UncleJim: You say:

“However when a person is in a combat zone, carrying a gun a…”

Who is the “person” you are referring to?

#12 UncleJim on Wednesday January 13, 2010 at 8:58am

SimonSays: The same person you were referring to in post #7 when you responded to my post #5. You said “You may advocate for a legal system where defendants have to “prove their innocence” if you wish.”

The kid on that plane was not a detainee but he ought not have been able to get on that plane without having been throughly searched first.
His previously know actions ought to have placed him on a “watch list” thus prevent him from purposefully placing others in harms way.

If he had been searched he would then have become a detainee and placed under armed guard until he was able to prove his innocence. And; given the circumstances of his arrest, that would have been a rather difficult challenge for him.

#13 Max (Guest) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 at 4:54pm


I was referring to Sa’id Ali al Shihri

#14 Max (Guest) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 at 4:55pm


I was referring to Sa’id Ali al Shihri

He was one of the first detainees held at Guantanamo Bay. Following his repatriation to Saudi custody he was enrolled in a rehabilitation and reintegration program. Following his release, he traveled to Yemen. He has since been identified as a deputy leader of the militant group Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and possibly involved in the kidnappings and murders of foreigners in Yemen.

This was last year’s story.
“The detainee stated he would attempt to work at his family’s furniture store if it is still in business,” the documents say.

Talk about naivety.

#15 UncleJim on Wednesday January 13, 2010 at 9:01pm

OK. I read the article. This was a really bad guy. It seems you are taking about the naivety of the US State Department. Right?

#16 SimonSays on Wednesday January 13, 2010 at 9:46pm

Max: The Said Ali al-Shihri case is actually pretty indicative of both sloppy reporting on this matter as well as naivete on the part of US policymakers…but probably not in the same way you mean. The NY Times article for instance makes heavy use of ‘anonymous officials’, a common tactic for disseminating unverifiable information or even outright falsehoods.

What’s not under dispute is that this individual was held without charge in Guantanamo for 6 years prior to being released to this “rehabilitation and reintegration program” in Saudi Arabia (whatever that means). Hundreds of other detainees like him have been similarly held for years and then released without charge. To me, what is naive is expressing shock and outrage that this would radicalize him.

It should also be noted that so far no

#17 UncleJim on Wednesday January 13, 2010 at 10:16pm

The validity of your point depends on him not being a radical when he was detained. What evidence do you have he was not an active, functioning, plotting and otherwisw dangerous individual when he was first detained?

#18 SimonSays on Sunday January 17, 2010 at 2:22pm

UncleJim: Your proposition seems to imply again that a defendant has to somehow prove his innocence in the US, something that is just not the case. The fact is that the US government failed to show his guilt and yet still held him for six years.

As far as what motivates someone to continue their quest for violent jihad, I’m no psychiatrist, however it is possible for someone to be radicalized, then captured, and consequently de-radicalized while at the same time maintaining the rule of law.

Here’s what British national and former terrorist Maajid Nawaz told a British journalist about the time when Amnesty International stepped in to defend him when the Egyptian authorities captured him a few years ago:

“I was just amazed,” Maajid says. “We’d always seen Amnesty as the soft power tools of colonialism. So, when Amnesty, despite knowing that we hated them, adopted us, I felt – maybe these democratic values aren’t always hypocritical. Maybe some people take them seriously ... it was the beginning of my serious doubts.”

It’s part of long article by Johann Hari, but certainly worth a read if you have time:

#19 UncleJim on Sunday January 17, 2010 at 2:30pm

SimonSays: So you advocate letting them go!!

#20 SimonSays on Sunday January 17, 2010 at 3:01pm

UncleJim: I do not have a full listing of the Guantamo Bay detainees (believe its about 200 or so now), however yes, I would advocate letting the 78 that are officially cleared for release go in a responsible manner:

As far as the rest, I advocate that we follow US and international law and proceed to try them in civilian courts.

#21 Max (Guest) on Sunday January 17, 2010 at 3:05pm

Time Magazine lists Anwar al-Awlaki’s connections. The one that’s missing is our new de-radicalization expert, Yasir Qadhi.,8599,1953426-1,00.html

Wherever the line between inspiration and operation is drawn, al-Awlaki seems to have come very close to crossing it. White House officials say e-mail exchanges with al-Awlaki may have spurred Major Nidal Malik Hasan to go on a rampage in Fort Hood, killing 13 people. And Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the failed Christmas Day bomber, reportedly told the FBI he had met with al-Awlaki in Yemen. Moreover, research into al-Awlaki’s past has now revealed that he had been investigated by the FBI for his connections to al-Qaeda as long ago as 1999. He had met three of the 9/11 hijackers, and his sermons and speeches had turned up in the computers of the 2005 London bombers, terrorist plotters in Toronto in 2006 and the six men who planned an attack on Fort Dix, N.J., in 2007.

#22 UncleJim on Sunday January 17, 2010 at 3:12pm

SimonSays: And just what would a “responsible manner” consist of? You imply that they are not being treated in accordance with their volitionally acting irresponsibly.

Secondly you claim they have the same rights as any known and documented civil protected by and under US and International law.

Where do you get this inforamtion?

#23 SimonSays on Wednesday January 27, 2010 at 1:22pm

Some new revelations by the Washington Post about al-Awlaki:

After the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush gave the CIA, and later the military, authority to kill U.S. citizens abroad if strong evidence existed that an American was involved in organizing or carrying out terrorist actions against the United States or U.S. interests, military and intelligence officials said. The evidence has to meet a certain, defined threshold. The person, for instance, has to pose “a continuing and imminent threat to U.S. persons and interests,” said one former intelligence official.

The Obama administration has adopted the same stance. If a U.S. citizen joins al-Qaeda, “it doesn’t really change anything from the standpoint of whether we can target them,” a senior administration official said. “They are then part of the enemy.”

Both the CIA and the JSOC maintain lists of individuals, called “High Value Targets” and “High Value Individuals,” whom they seek to kill or capture. The JSOC list includes three Americans, including Aulaqi, whose name was added late last year. As of several months ago, the CIA list included three U.S. citizens, and an intelligence official said that Aulaqi’s name has now been added.

Keep in mind that state sanctioned assassinations have been illegal in the USA since Gerald Ford.

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