The Washington Times today has a couple of items noting a new “Team B” report on the threat entitled Sharia: The Threat To America, released today by the Center for Security Policy, a think tank led by Washington Times columnist Frank Gaffney.
Bill Gertz reports that “A panel of national security experts who worked under Republican and Democratic presidents is urging the Obama administration to abandon its stance that Islam is not linked to terrorism, arguing that radical Muslims are using Islamic law to subvert the United States.”
Frank Gaffney, director of the Center for Security Policy, said the Obama administration’s policy is based on an incorrect assumption. The Team B report seeks to expose flaws in anti-terror programs, including the policy of not referring to al Qaeda and similar groups as “Islamist” to avoid offending Muslims, he said.
“What if it turns out that some of the people the Obama administration has been embracing are actually promoting the same totalitarian ideology and seditious agenda as al Qaeda, only they’re doing it from White House Iftar dinners?” said Mr. Gaffney, referring to the daily meal eaten by Muslims to break their fast during Ramadan.
The Times also gave space to three of the report’s authors, former CIA director James Woolsey, National Review’s Andrew McCarthy and former DIA director Harry Soyster, to promote their report.
Earlier today, I attended an event at the U.S. Capitol where the report was presented to two legislators, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI). Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) could not attend because of a scheduling conflict, but sent a letter of congratulations to the report’s authors. Reminding the twenty or so attendees that he “took an oath to uphold the Constitution,” Franks said, “It’s clear that the creeping threat of sharia poses a threat to the Constitution.”
Hoekstra criticized the Obama administration for its “refusal to understand the threat” posed by sharia, and insisted that “the American people need an alternative point of view. I hope this report will cause a serious debate” about sharia.
Introducing the report, retired Lt. Gen. Soyster (filling in for retired Lt. Gen. William Boykin, who was “called down to Tampa to do a briefing”) admitted “I’m here out of ignorance. Three years ago I realized how little I knew about Islam.” Soyster said he “went to some classes,” and “the more I learned, the worse it got.”
“The time for corrective action is short,” said Gaffney, who has previously claimed that President Obama “might still be a Muslim.” Scoffing at the administration’s policy of engagement with the Muslim world, Gaffney said that “those who have communicated submission” to America’s enemies “will be held accountable by the American people.”
Questioned about the report’s assertions about Islamic law, the Center for Security Policy’s general counsel David Yerushalmi — someone so extreme even Daniel Pipes has distanced himself — insisted that all that was needed to understand sharia was “to look at the doctrine” and “look at the text.”
Noting some of the report’s broad and controversial claims about Islamic law, such as that all Muslims are duty-bound to wage jihad against unbelievers, I asked Gaffney how many actual Muslims or Islamic scholars he and his group had consulted with in writing the report. He could not name any, though he noted that he had consulted with various Muslims “over the years.”
So there you have it. A report on the threat posed by Islamic law to the United States, one of whose leaders admits to having started studying Islam only three years ago, whose authors admit consulting with no actual Muslims, produced by a think tank that has previously claimed that key members of the Obama administration are part of the Iran Lobby.
Finally, the decision to call this a “Team B” effort is interesting. It’s clear that the report’s authors consider the original Team B effort, in which conservative analysts were brought in to second guess the intelligence community’s assessments of the Soviets’ goals and capabilities, to have been a huge success. But as Fred Kaplan wrote in 2004, “In retrospect, the Team B report (which has since been declassified) turns out to have been wrong on nearly every point.” Or, as my colleague Larry Korb wrote, Team B was right about only one thing:
The CIA estimate was indeed flawed. In 1989, the agency published an internal review of the threat assessments from 1974 to 1986. The report concluded that the Soviet threat had been “substantially overestimated” every year. In 1978, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence found that the selection of Team B members yielded a flawed composition of political views and biases. Consequently, the Team B analysis was deemed a gross exaggeration and completely inaccurate.
The CIA had “substantially overestimated” the Soviet threat. Team B, on the other hand, had produced a work of science fiction. Or, to be more specific, a work of political advocacy, with the authors deriving conclusions of Soviet capabilities from their own apocalyptic beliefs about the Soviet ideology, and then using those deeply flawed conclusions to justify more defense spending and more foreign policy adventurism. Which is precisely what they’re attempting to do now with regard to the threat of Islamic extremism.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a good idea to have some competitive analysis going on. But it’s probably best if the analysts haven’t pre-cooked all their conclusions, as this group obviously did. It’s also helpful if the analysts don’t include a bunch of birthers, Christian holy warriors, and conspiracy theorists, as this group does.