“We know some of the drones are being based out of Saudi Arabia with targets in Yemen, but yet you have the Saudis basically still continuing to support radical Islam and Mohabism at the same time they're fighting off al-Qaida,” the general said. “So the whole Middle East is a dichotomy and my feeling is we just don’t have a good strategy anymore how to deal with these global threats.”
Vallely said he's also concerned, as are many other Americans, that Obama has granted himself broader powers without consulting Congress through his use of executive orders and classified documents.
“We have growing here a tyrannical form of government which is supposed to be a shared government with Congress, the White House, and the courts . . . They’re trying to consolidate power solely within the White House and the executive branch while at the same time diminishing the court’s input, he said.
Vallely noted, however, that Congress in his view is “inept and weakened" and therefore won't shut off funding for the drone program despite "what we see happening.”
The retired general also raised concerns about Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's testimony Thursday about the terrorist attack last September on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
He described Panetta's comments as "smoke and mirrors."
“The threat has been there, it was there,” he said. “It seems that the administration, including [former Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton and Panetta, and even Gen. [Martin] Dempsey, were trying to say, 'Well this is what we’re going to try to do now in the future.' But they didn’t act in time, they didn’t act to even send in and execute a rescue operation no matter how many hours it was going to take.”
Vallely also spoke out against John Brennan as Obama's nominee for CIA director, accusing him of being “basically a supporter of Islam.”
And here are Brennan's own words:
On May 26, 2010, John Brennan, deputy national security advisor for homeland security, delivered a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank.
The speech reads as something of a paean to Barack Obama from whom all inspiration for current security policies is deemed to flow (and, as such, echoes a speech Brennan delivered to the same center on August 6, 2009). It draws on themes that Obama enunciated in Cairo in June 2009 when he tried to mollify Arab and Muslim opinion. He distinguished between "violent extremists" and "true Muslims"; he vaunted "centuries of coexistence" without mention of jihad or crusades, and he blamed recent tensions solely on "colonialism." He spoke of Islamic tolerance without any hint of rampant and extreme religious intolerance in Muslim countries. Islam, Obama argued, "is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism—it is an important part of promoting peace."
Brennan's speeches extend these themes and thereby vividly demonstrate the distance the U.S. government has traveled in its counterterrorism policies. Excerpts from Brennan's May 26, 2010 speech follow with commentary by the editors.
Jihad Is Not a Problem
John Brennan: The President's strategy is absolutely clear about the threat we face. Our enemy is not "terrorism" because terrorism is but a tactic. Our enemy is not "terror" because terror is a state of mind, and as Americans we refuse to live in fear. Nor do we describe our enemy as "jihadists" or "Islamists" because jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one's community, and there is nothing holy or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women, and children.
Middle East Quarterly: To speak of jihad exclusively as a means of purifying oneself or one's community reveals either ignorance or deliberate obfuscation on Brennan's part. Jihad through war against unbelievers is rooted in the Qur'an and the Hadith (reports on the sayings and acts of Muhammad). Historian Michael Bonner in his authoritative study of jihad, Jihad in Islamic History, as well as other writers, has shown that throughout history there has been an inordinate emphasis on armed jihad, in the context of invasions and conquests and, in our day, terrorism. Bernard Lewis, viewed by many as the current dean of academic research into Islam, contends that "the overwhelming majority of classical theologians, jurists, and traditionalists … understood the obligation of jihad in a military sense."
This is not to say that the nonviolent interpretation of jihad is false. Jihad unquestionably means "effort" and the Sufi understanding of the word as an inner struggle against base inclinations is historically substantiated. But this reading has its origin in a non-authoritative collection of hadith and, while influential, has certainly not been the mainstream Muslim understanding of the term through the centuries.
Brennan skirts these points with rhetoric. "Our enemy is not 'terror' because terror is a state of mind." Actually terror in the context of the enemies America faces is a tactic. Victims of jihadists are not murdered by a "state of mind"; this wording both dishonors the dead and minimizes a great danger.
Who the Enemy Is
Brennan: Indeed, characterizing our adversaries this way would actually be counterproductive. It would play into the false perception that they are religious leaders defending a holy cause, when in fact they are nothing more than murderers, including the murder of thousands upon thousands of Muslims. This is why Muslim leaders around the world have spoken out—forcefully, and often at great risk to their own lives—to reject al-Qaeda and violent extremism. And frankly, their condemnations often do not get the recognition they deserve, including from the media.
Moreover, describing our enemy in religious terms would lend credence to the lie—propagated by al-Qaeda and its affiliates to justify terrorism—that the United States is somehow at war against Islam. The reality, of course, is that we never have been and will never be at war with Islam. After all, Islam, like so many faiths, is part of America.
Instead, the President's strategy is clear and precise. Our enemy is al-Qaeda and its terrorist affiliates. For it was al-Qaeda who attacked us so viciously on 9/11 and whose desire to attack the United States, our allies, and our partners remains undiminished. And it is its affiliates who have taken up al-Qaeda's call to arms against the United States in other parts of the world.
MEQ: Brennan, the non-Muslim, dismisses the clearly articulated religious claims of the jihadists and their leaders and presumes to know the true nature of Islam, exemplified by Muslim condemners of Al-Qaeda. His remarks are breathtaking in their condescension. (note: today in the twittersphere, there is talk of Brennan's conversion to Islamhttp:// j.mp/VJY5eJ )
By severing the link to Islam and terming America's foes "al-Qaeda and its terrorist affiliates," Brennan hampers the U.S. government from confronting the sources of the problem. He disregards the wide backing for Islamist violence by vast Islamist organizations whose followers praise armed jihad, whose imams and sheikhs defend its perpetrators, and whose acolytes create charities that channel funds to the international jihadist apparatus. What are we to make of the Muslim Brotherhood and its ancillaries in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Europe; the Pakistani Tablighi Jamaat, with members in over 150 countries; the Deobandi movement which gave rise to the Afghan Taliban? Are they all somehow terribly misinformed as to the wellsprings of their beliefs? Why no mention of the Salafi movement and Wahhabism, the official creed of wealthy Saudi Arabia, which exerts an influence out of proportion to its size by its funding of extremist mosques and madrassas (Islamic schools) steeped in hatred of the West?
Finally what is one to make of bromides such as "Islam, like so many faiths, is part of America"? Certainly Muslims, like other faith communities in the United States are welcome to worship as they see fit. Allowing one's enemy to define the terms of engagement in this way is a recipe for disaster. Rather than pointing out that America has come to the defense of Muslims in many countries (Bosnia, Kosovo, Somalia, Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan) during recent years, or that Muslim Americans are freer here than anywhere in the Middle East, the deputy national security advisor reassures us that the government he represents is not "at war with Islam."