Fox & Friends hosts attempted to discredit Hillary Clinton's plan to combat the Islamic State terrorist group by dubiously claiming her response to the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram was not “strong enough” during her tenure at the Department of State. In reality, experts have defended Clinton's response to the Boko Haram terrorist group as the “right” decision after her State Department was the first to blacklist three of the group's leaders so as not to empower the organization and inspire attacks against U.S. interests.
Hillary Clinton Outlines Plan To Combat ISIS
Hillary Clinton Introduces Plan To Combat ISIS. Hillary Clinton introduced a plan November 19 to combat the Islamic State in a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. According to USA Today, Clinton “called for a 'new phase' in the fight to defeat the Islamic State that includes stepped-up air and drone strikes in Iraq and Syria and new efforts to choke terrorist financing and recruitment infrastructures but no new U.S. ground troops”:
Hillary Clinton called for a “new phase” in the fight to defeat the Islamic State that includes stepped-up air and drone strikes in Iraq and Syria and new efforts to choke terrorist financing and recruitment infrastructures but no new U.S. ground troops.
“I do believe we can crush ISIS's enclave of terror,” Clinton said in a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on Thursday. “We are in a contest of ideas against an ideology of hate, and we have to win,” said Clinton, stressing that the United States needs to take the lead in the effort.
In her address, Clinton also called for new efforts to thwart terrorist organizing in cyberspace and pressed neighboring Arab nations to stop citizens who are directly funding extremists. She said European nations need to “dramatically” improve intelligence sharing and called for a no-fly zone over northern Syria to cut off supply lines and provide a safe haven for refugees. [USA Today, 11/19/15]
Fox Figures Dubiously Point To Clinton's Response Against Boko Haram To Falsely Claim Her Plan To Combat ISIS “May Not End Up Being Enough At All For Anyone”
Fox & Friends: Hillary Clinton's Plan To Combat ISIS “May Not End Up Being Enough At All For Anyone” Because Her Position On Boko Haram “Was Not Strong Enough.” On the November 19 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-hosts Tucker Carlson and Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Fox's chief White House correspondent Ed Henry attempted to discredit Hillary Clinton's foreign policy record ahead of her speech. The group speculated that she may not be “the right person” to implement a plan to combat ISIS because if you “dig back into” her record, she “was not strong enough” in addressing the Nigeria-based terrorist group, Boko Haram. Hasselbeck asserted Clinton's strategy for combatting ISIS therefore “may not end up being enough at all for anyone”:
ED HENRY: [Hillary Clinton's plan to combat ISIS] is not really going to be much different from what President Obama said. I think what she wants to do is bring a sense of urgency, which we did not see from President Obama at that news conference in Asia obviously earlier this week. And what she wants to do frankly is a do-over because if you go back to the debate last Saturday, national security is supposed to be her strong suit, she brings the best resume, she's got the most on paper. But when she got these national security questions she fumbled some of them. I mean at one point saying this is not America's fight but America needs to show leadership. So there's these contradictions in there, and in terms of, she's already taken ground troops off the table. She has said she supports the president sending up to 50 special forces on the ground in Syria, but nothing different than that, nothing beyond that. So I think you're going to hear a lot about working with allies, doing more on social media, but in terms of actual boots on the ground, you're not going to see that, that's for sure.
TUCKER CARLSON: The Syrian Civil War's been going on for quite some time.
HENRY: Several years.
CARLSON: Right. Is there any sense that she isn't maybe the right person for this new plan, since, of course, she was secretary of state when that war began.
HENRY: That is part of the problem here when I talk about the resume is that when you actually put it into practice, she was the secretary of state for a president who said this was the J.V. squad. Now in fairness to her, she didn't say that, number one. And number two, she was seen as somebody inside the administration who was more hawkish, who was pushing the president to arm the Syrian rebels much sooner. She pushed to intervene in Libya, but that hasn't worked out. You obviously see ISIS on the ground there and the president has acknowledged that was his biggest, he says, foreign policy mistake is that they didn't have a plan for the day after Gaddafi fell. And you heard this come up in the debate as well, well Hillary Clinton, you voted for the war in Iraq, then called that a big mistake, and have recanted that. But then why didn't you relearn the lessons of Iraq with Libya? You pushed for intervention, didn't have a follow-up.
ELISABETH HASSELBECK: People might even dig back into her position on Boko Haram at the time, which was not strong enough. You know, the outline, really, for her strategy may not end up being enough at all for anyone. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 11/19/15]
Under Clinton Boko Haram Leaders Were Blacklisted By State For The First Time, And Experts Have Defended The Strategy As The “Right One” Not To Embolden The Terrorist Group
State Department Under Hillary Clinton Put Top Boko Haram Leaders On Terrorist List. In June 2012, the U.S. State Department under Hillary Clinton identified three leaders of Boko Haram as “foreign terrorists,” as Reuters reported at the time, noting that it constituted the “first time [State] has blacklisted members of the Islamist group”:
The United States on Thursday named three alleged leaders of the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram as “foreign terrorists,” the first time it has blacklisted members of the Islamist group blamed for attacks across Africa's most populous nation.
The State Department identified the three as Abubakar Shekau, calling him the “most visible” leader of the group, and Abubakar Adam Kambar and Khalid al-Barnawi, who it said were tied both to Boko Haram and to al Qaeda's north African wing.
“These designations demonstrate the United States' resolve in diminishing the capacity of Boko Haram to execute violent attacks,” it said, saying that Boko Haram or associated militants were responsible for more than 1,000 deaths in the past 18 months. [Reuters, 6/21/12]
State Dept. Blacklisted Leaders, Not Boko Haram As A Group, So As Not To Empower The Terrorist Group. Reuters went on to report that the State and Treasury departments listed individuals on the terrorist list, rather than Boko Haram as a group, so as not to “elevate the group's profile,” which was a concern voiced by academic experts on Africa. From Reuters:
U.S. officials say the decision to list individual Boko Haram members, rather than apply the more sweeping “Foreign Terrorist Organization” label to the group as a whole as some U.S. lawmakers have demanded, reflected a desire not to elevate the group's profile.
In January, Lisa Monaco, the Justice Department's top national security official, sent a letter to the State Department arguing the Nigerian group met the criteria for a “foreign terrorist” listing because it either engaged in terrorism that threatens the United States or had a capability or intent to do so.
But a group of academic experts on Africa sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last month urging her not to take the step, saying it could backfire by enhancing the group's reputation among potential recruits and other militants. [Reuters, 6/21/12]
Fiscal Times: A Close Examination Of Boko Haram At The Time Showed That Clinton Made The Right Decision Not Designating The Group As A Terrorist Organization In 2012. The Fiscal Times explained in May 2014 that “a close examination of the group at the time, and the reasons why she didn't” designate Boko Haram a foreign terrorist organization in 2012 “show that the decision she made was the right” decision:
Former Secretary of State and presumptive 2016 Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton has been under fire from Republicans in recent days for failing to designate Boko Haram, the group responsible for the kidnapping of some 200 Nigerian school girls, as terrorists after the group attacked a United Nations office in Abuja in 2011.
“It is so clearly and vividly a terrorist organization that it seems indefensible that the State Department would have refused to designate it as such,” Republican stalwart Newt Gingrich said, saying that this failure could be worse than her failure to act in Benghazi. “A thorough investigation of the decision process that protected Boko Haram from 2011 until late 2013 could be devastating.”
Because she's the Democratic frontrunner, the questions about whether Clinton should have labeled the group terrorists aren't going away. But a close examination of the group at the time, and the reasons why she didn't, show that the decision she made was the right one. Here are three reasons why:
1. The Nigerians didn't want it. According to Robert Jackson, the principal deputy assistant secretary for African affairs, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan didn't want the group to be labeled as a FTO (Foreign Terrorist Organization).
“The government of Nigeria feared that designating these individuals and the organizations would bring them more attention, more publicity and be counter productive,” Jackson told a Senate subcommittee earlier this month. “For some time we accepted that point of view.”
2. It would have been ineffective. The FTO designation allows the United States to prohibit American businesses from doing business with the group, as well as prohibits American citizens from funding it. Because the group has no economic ties to the Untied States, these tools would have been ineffective.
All the FTO would have done was raise the profile of the group. It's not as if the United States was idle in the early fight against the group; it increased aid to Nigeria and sent FBI agents there to help.
3. At the time, the group posed no threat outside of northern Nigeria, and there was little evidence that it had connections to al Qaeda. Boko Haram is not one of the four groups that al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has granted the al Qaeda tag. Al Qaeda has even condemned the group for the kidnappings.
Boko Haram has more similarities to a gang than an organized terror group like al Shabaab in Somalia and Kenya and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in North Africa. Its leader, Abubakar Shekau, is an Islamic radical, but most of the foot soldiers are young men with no futures fed up with endless cycles of poverty and government corruption.
4. Getting into the anti-terrorism business with the Nigerian military is a losing proposition. The Nigerian military is responsible for a host of their own human rights abuses in their effort to eradicate the group. Providing anything more than information that could help locate the girls would be supporting these violations. [The Fiscal Times, 5/18/14]
International Crisis Group: Classifying Boko Haram As A Foreign Terrorist Organization Would “Encourage It To Aggressively Target US Interests In Nigeria.” In November 2013, when the State Department first moved towards classifying Boko Haram as a foreign terrorist organization, the BBC noted that “such an escalation will expand the threat of the group, drawing in the deployment of US surveillance drones and introducing a dramatic twist to the conflict in the major oil producer,” citing a Nigeria analyst with the International Crisis Group:
US moves to classify the Islamist group Boko Haram as a foreign terrorist organisation may encourage the militants to justify their new status by seeking international terror links in a region that is home to an al-Qaeda franchise.
Nnamdi Obasi, a Nigeria analyst with the International Crisis Group (ICG) says the move to classify Boko Haram as a foreign terror group will encourage it to aggressively target US interests in Nigeria.
“It could also further radicalise the movement and push it to strengthen international linkages with other Islamist groups,” Mr Obasi told the BBC.
Such support can be easily turned into recruitment of new fighters that can be deployed beyond Nigeria.
Most jihadists like to be part of a terror group that is stridently opposed to the US - which the terrorists see as an embodiment of Western values that they oppose. [BBC, 11/15/13]