Why Did Hillary Clinton Defend Boko Haram?

Boko Haram, the Islamic terrorist organization in Nigeria, is in the news because it kidnapped more than 200 teenage girls and now threatens to sell them into slavery. (That’s what a real war on women looks like.) This is just the latest of many outrages committed by Boko Haram, which is guilty of many acts of mass murder. But it has now come out that for two years, Hillary Clinton blocked efforts to add Boko Haram to the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations.

This wasn’t just an episode of bureaucratic indifference. The Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA and many in Congress lobbied the State Department to list Boko Haram, but Clinton stood firm in defense of the Nigerian terrorists. Now, with the kidnapping outrage in the news, Hillary is tweeting away on behalf of the Nigerian girls. (THAT will do a lot of good!) But where was she in 2011 and 2012?

Risch and seven other GOP senators introduced legislation in early 2013 that would have forced Clinton to designate the group or explain why she thought it was a bad idea. The State Department lobbied against the legislation at the time, according to internal State Department emails obtained by The Daily Beast.

In the House, leading intelligence-minded lawmakers wrote letter after letter to Clinton urging her to designate Boko Haram as terrorists. The effort in the House was led by then-Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King and Patrick Meehan, chairman of the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence.

Meehan and his Democratic counterpart Jackie Speier put out a lengthy report in 2011 laying out the evidentiary basis for naming Boko Haram a terrorist organization, including the group’s ties to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and to Somalia’s al-Shabab terrorist organization.

But Hillary Clinton was unmoved.

Over the last day or two, debate has raged over whether adding Boko Haram to the State Department’s terror organization list would have made much difference. (It finally happened in 2013, after Hillary’s resignation.) But the more interesting question is why Hillary was so resistant to labeling Boko Haram a terrorist group, which they obviously were.

Her defenders have said that it was inappropriate to put Boko Haram on the list because they are a regional group that hasn’t acted against American interests. But that explanation holds no water. You can read the terrorist list here; there are a number of groups on it, like the Irish terrorists, who haven’t attacked American interests. Democrats have also suggested that Hillary didn’t want to name Boko Haram because doing so would add to the group’s prestige among fellow terrorists. But this is a ludicrous claim; if it made any sense, we should abolish the list entirely. (The point of the list, of course, is to authorize intelligence activities and efforts to choke off funding.)

In my view, Hillary’s actions are something of a mystery. Andy McCarthy argues that Hillary’s position was the logical corollary of her ideology:

Mrs. Clinton, like the Obama administration more broadly, believes that appeasing Islamists — avoiding actions that might give them offense, slamming Americans who provoke them — promotes peace and stability. (See Egypt for a good example of how well this approach is working.) Furthermore, if you are claiming to have “decimated” al-Qaeda, as the Obama administration was claiming to have done in the run-up to the 2012 election, the last thing you want to do is add jihadists to the terror list….

So that’s the plan: pretend terrorists and Islamists are unconnected, miniaturize terrorists, and appease Islamists with the Left’s policy preferences. It’s the plan that convinces you not to put Boko Haram on the terrorist list — that way, you can pretend that the jihadists are not really that important while telling the Islamists, “See? We’re going to treat them like a local criminal gang — the fact that they’re Muslims citing scripture in support of their murder, mayhem, kidnapping and misogyny is irrelevant. No ‘war on Islam’ on our watch.”

Andrew has much more, all of which I agree with. But I am not sure that it explains Hillary’s sticking up for Boko Haram. Bear in mind that there is a more notorious instance of the Clinton State Department’s myopia: it long refused to add the Taliban to its terrorist list, too:

A new State Department report designating terrorist organizations [in August 2010] notably excludes one group: the Taliban. The U.S. has been fighting a war in Afghanistan for almost a decade aimed at “defeating the Taliban,” Taliban members repeatedly have threatened and killed American citizens and lawmakers have increased pressure on State to add the Taliban to the list.

Earlier this summer, a group of congressional Democrats sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging her to begin the process of categorizing the Taliban as a terrorist group. In June, Sens. Charles Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand of New York and Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez of New Jersey proposed legislation that would immediately add the Taliban to the terrorist list.

Yet the State Department’s report (due on April 30 but released last week), did not include the Taliban with groups such as al-Qaida, Hamas and the Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA). …

The MEK continues to be included on the list, while the Taliban has not appeared once. And the seemingly arbitrary decision on the part of the State Department has confused even the most experienced foreign affairs experts.

It confuses me, too. I find it hard to avoid the conclusion that the Obama/Clinton foreign policy is shot through with pure perversity. The Taliban, not a terrorist group? Boko Haram, not a terrorist group? There is no coherent explanation for such decisions. They can only be the fruit of an emotional, anti-American, and frankly disturbed attitude toward the world.

Maybe when she runs for president, someone will ask Hillary to explain why she didn’t think that either the Taliban or Boko Haram was a terrorist organization. Her answer can only be interesting.

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