Fox invited Anti-Islam commentator Frank Gaffney to smear President Obama with “signaling surrender” to terrorists in his May 23 speech, ignoring Obama's direct references to the ongoing threat of terrorism and calls for increased vigilance in the face of “more localized threats.”
On May 23, Obama appeared at the National Defense University to speak about ongoing counterterrorism efforts, the use of drone strikes overseas, and his plan to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Two days later, Fox hosted Center for Security Policy (CSP) founder Frank Gaffney, asking him why he felt “the president's speech was ill-advised and coming at an inappropriate time.” In response, Gaffney falsely suggested that Obama had signaled a willingness to surrender, while calling for increased recognition of what he sees as a more expansive “global jihad” (emphasis added):
FOX ANCHOR ANNA KOOIMAN: Tell me a little about how do you feel like the president's speech was ill-advised and coming at an inappropriate time?
GAFFNEY: Well, you know, Memorial Day is an opportunity for us to reflect on one central reality throughout history. One side can't end a war except through either winning it or losing it, surrendering. And I'm afraid what the president laid out was pretty much a ruling out of winning and embrace, though he may not have said so much, of surrendering. And the trouble here is that we're not clear about who it is we're signaling a willingness to surrender too. We have been calling them terrorists for years. I don't think that's appropriate. We have been calling them violent extremists more recently under this administration. These are both euphemisms that really conceal what we're up against. Even Hillary Rodham Clinton on her way out the door said what we are facing now is global jihad and indeed that's what I think in each of those various scenes that you just showed we're dealing with here and certainly elsewhere is the folks who believe that it is their god's will they will impose their doctrine of Sharia on all of us. Muslims who don't want to be under that and us as well and they're willing to use violence and nonviolent means to do it.
GAFFNEY: Here is the rub: The folks who we're now signaling a willingness to accommodate are only emboldened by it, in fact their doctrine, this Sharia notion, as you can find in this document at securefreedom.org. It's a thin little précis of what the Muslim Brotherhood, not al Qaeda but other Islamists now under their banner are saying and it is that they will destroy us from within if possible by our own hands. We've got to be clear that's what we're up against.
Gaffney's analysis willfully misinterprets Obama's counterterrorism plans.
Obama's words stand in direct contrast to Gaffney's claim that he had signaled surrender. In his speech, Obama said the first goal of his counterterrorism strategy is to “finish the work of defeating al-Qaida and its associated forces” in Afghanistan and beyond.
Obama pointed out that “the threat has shifted and evolved from the one that came to our shores on 9/11” and said that the United States must “dismantle networks that pose a direct danger to us and make it less likely for new groups to gain a foothold, all the while maintaining the freedoms and ideals that we defend.”
He acknowledged that extremists have gained “a foothold in countries like Libya and Syria,” but described a strategy to deal with the threat:
In some cases, we continue to confront state-sponsored networks like Hezbollah that engage in acts of terror to achieve political goals. Other of these groups are simply collections of local militias or extremists interested in seizing territory. And while we are vigilant for signs that these groups may pose a transnational threat, most are focused on operating in the countries and regions where they are based. And that means we'll face more localized threats like what we saw in Benghazi, or the BP oil facility in Algeria, in which local operatives -- perhaps in loose affiliation with regional networks -- launch periodic attacks against Western diplomats, companies and other soft targets, or resort to kidnapping and other criminal enterprises to fund their operations.
Obama also noted the threat of homegrown terrorism, which he said “closely resembles the types of attacks we faced before 9/11.” He emphasized the need to “take these threats seriously and do all that we can to confront them.”
Fox's decision to turn to Gaffney for analysis of anti-terrorism efforts is ill-advised, considering his well-documented bias against Islam and propensity for distorting the issue.
The Southern Law Poverty Center has dubbed Gaffney “the anti-Muslim movement's most paranoid propagandist,” and pointed out that he has “been banned from the Conservative Political Action Conference” because of past bigoted statements.
Media Matters has previously noted many of Gaffney's extreme comments, including his suggestion that the left and Islamists are both “advancing the takedown of America” and that for Muslims, “the preferred way of achieving [Shariah Law] is ... through violence.”