Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.
On Thursday morning, sailors on board the USS Cole were lining up for an early lunch. Seventeen of them died as an Al Qaeda bomb on board a fishing boat tore through the hull outside the galley. The dead included 15 men and 2 women, one of whom had a young child. For three weeks the crew of the USS Cole struggled to keep their ship from sinking while working waist deep in water with bucket brigades, sleeping on the deck and living surrounded by the terrible aftermath of the terrorist attack.
The survivors, wounded and whole, received the words "Glory is the Reward of Valor" written on the bent steel removed from the site of the explosion that tore through their ship and their lives.
The President of the United States promised that justice would be done. “To those who attacked them we say: You will not find a safe harbor. We will find you and justice will prevail.”
Despite Clinton’s words, justice did not prevail.
The father of Home Maintenance Technician Third Class Kenneth Eugene Clodfelter believed that there would be justice, but he was to be disappointed. “I just felt, for sure, you know, they’re not going to go ahead and just kiss off the lives of 17 U.S. sailors,” he said. “In fact, they didn’t do anything.”
Walid bin Attash, a planner of the USS Cole bombing and who also played a role in the 9/11 attack, is still at Gitmo. His trial continues to drag on while he and his lawyers play games. Rahim Hussein al-Nashiri, another of the planners, is still awaiting trial. But Mashur Abdallah Ahmed al Sabri, one of the members of the USS Cole cell, has already been released by Barack Obama from Guantanamo Bay.
Sabri was rated as a high risk terrorist who is ”is likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests, and allies”, but that was no obstacle for Obama who had already fired one Secretary of Defense for being slow to free dangerous Al Qaeda terrorists and was browbeating his latest appointee over the same issue.
The very paperwork that was used as the basis for the decision to free Sabri describes him as “a member of a Yemeni al-Qaida cell directly involved with the USS Cole attack”. This cell “conducted surveillance” on the targeted vessel and “prepared explosives for the bombing”. Sabri had been arrested in Yemen for his involvement in the attack before he managed to make his way to Afghanistan.
Now he is a free man and has been sent back to the homeland of terrorism, Saudi Arabia.
After praising the “beautiful religious tradition” of Islam, which the USS Cole terrorists had “twisted”, President Clinton had promised that, “America will not stop standing guard”.
But under him, it never even started standing guard.
While Osama bin Laden prepared for US retaliation, evacuating Kandahar and escaping into the desert, President Clinton rejected military action against the terrorists claiming that the evidence against Bin Laden was not strong enough. The State Department warned that attacking Bin Laden would “inflame the Islamic world”.
Very little has changed since then. Muslim terrorists strike and we are told to close our eyes and appease harder or we risk inflaming the tender sensitivities of the Muslim world.
Most Americans have grown numb to the parade of Islamic terrorists triumphantly exiting Gitmo as free men. No matter their risk rating, the Arabic names, the dark smirks and scowls all come to blend together. But Sabri is not just another Bin Laden bodyguard or operative. His cell has American blood on its hands.
The USS Cole attack was the final step on the road to 9/11. Our government’s inaction sent a message that America could be hit hard and we would not retaliate. It told Al Qaeda that American blood was dirt cheap and that the murder of our people came with no price.
These days we are sending that same message all over again.
Obama’s release of Sabri is yet another page in that same dark history. It is a betrayal of the dead and the wounded. And of their families. It is a betrayal of the promise made by his Democratic predecessor, vowing, “After all they have given us, we must give them their meaning.”
In 2009, Obama had met with USS Cole families and promised them swift action. But a year later the families were accusing his administration of inaction and broken promises. His statement on the tenth anniversary of the attack made no mention of bringing the attackers to justice. Instead he stated that, “We will honor their legacy of selfless service by advancing the values that they stood for throughout their lives.” What were these values and how did they justify releasing one of the Cole cell terrorists?
From Clinton to Obama, there has been a long shameful tradition of substituting vague generic sentiments for justice. Of speaking of honor and healing, of pain and history, of tragedy and courage, while giving the killers behind the attack yet another pass. There is neither honor nor courage in that.
Mashur Abdallah Ahmed al Sabri has left American custody as a free man. It is not inconceivable that Obama will free even the masterminds of the USS Cole attack. As he empties Guantanamo Bay of the monsters squatting in its darkest corners, he slowly works his way toward the worst of the worst with an eye to letting them all go.
After the USS Cole attack, President Clinton contended, “If, as it now appears, this was an act of terrorism, it was a despicable and cowardly act.” This uncertainty and lack of conviction continues to haunt our War on Terror. Behind every statement about courage and honor, there is an “if”. Lurking behind every promise of action is yet another “if”. And these “Ifs” keep anything from being done.
Clinton’s fight against Al Qaeda lacked any conviction that we were right and they were wrong. And that is why during the Clinton years, we lost and they won. Obama is not bothered by the hanging “If”. He knows that we are wrong and if the terrorists are not quite right, they are still more right than we are.
That is why Obama freed Sabri. It is why he freed a legion of other Gitmo inmates. It is why he has made shutting down the prison for Islamic terrorists into one of the major goals of his administration.
The USS Cole attack sent a message to Islamic terrorists that American lives did not matter to our government. Obama’s release of Sabri tells ISIS, Al Qaeda and its brethren the same thing once again.
“They have given us their deaths, let us give them their meaning,” President Clinton declared. After all these years have passed, their deaths remain a debt that this country has yet to repay with meaning. The dead do not ask us for glory. Despite the promises of past governments, they have been forgotten beyond the close circles of their shipmates and their families. But they have a right to justice.
The valorous dead of the USS Cole have been betrayed too many times to count by each administration. Somewhere their restless spirits wait for a safe harbor in a better America that will see justice done.
tumultuous election year climate where Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is doubling down on “rigged election” claims and encouraging supporters to monitor polls when Americans vote Nov. 8 — the first presidential election in 50 years without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act — the Justice Department plans to deploy hundreds of federal election monitors in about half of U.S. states.
Wednesday, on the heels of U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch's
announcement last week, a consortium of 87 national civil rights and
voting groups — The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human
Rights, the NAACP, the AFL-CIO and others — called for more
oversight in a letter imploring election officials in all 50 states to
develop plans to deal with what they worry will be a circus-like
atmosphere at some polls.
The Justice Department has been able to push back against a spate
of laws passed by states after a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling
stripping the Voting Rights Act of provisions that required election
officials in some states in the South to get pre-approval of their
election processes from the federal government, the groups said in
a statement, but warned: “Voters have very little protection from
local election changes, the misapplication and misunderstanding
of new voting restrictions by poll workers, or threats from
intimidation from polling place vigilantes.”
In her video statement last week, Lynch said that to ensure voters
can cast ballots free of intimidation and discrimination, monitors
would be watching for things like whether voters are treated
differently because of their race, whether polling stations are
accessible to the disabled, and whether bilingual material and
assistance is provided in areas where they’re needed.
In the 2012 election, the Justice Department deployed more than
780 monitors in 23 states. Since then, new voter identification laws
have been approved in several states, including some the Justice
Department has fought in court. The way for those laws was paved
by the 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Shelby v. Holder.
The ruling, Lynch said, “limited one of our most important tools to
fight laws and policies that make it harder for many Americans,
especially low-income citizens and citizens of color, to cast their ballots.”
States Have a Role, Too: Activists
In the Wednesday letter to the election officials in the 50 states, the
civil rights and voting groups said they were disturbed about the
potential for voter discrimination in the general election.
The Voting Rights Act changes and “the most racially bigoted
presidential campaign in generations [have] created the perfect
storm for voter intimidation and voter discrimination,” Wade
Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on
Civil and Human Rights, said in the statement.
“State election officials must address these unprecedented threats
head on by creating and publicizing clear plans to prevent intimidation
and discrimination, and to make it unequivocally clear to the voters
they serve that the elections they oversee will be safe, fair, and free
from intimidation, violence, and discrimination,” Henderson said.
Trump Doubles Down: Zombie Voters
With less than two weeks remaining before Americans cast ballots in
a historic election, Trump has stepped up his claims that the election
has been “rigged” in favor of his Democratic opponent, former
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
His most recent claim is that dead voters will tip the election toward
Clinton. “You have 1.8 million voters who are dead, who are registered
to vote, and some of them absolutely vote,” Trump told Sean Hannity
of Fox News in an interview last week. “Now, tell me how they do that.”
Get free real-time news alerts from the Farmington-Farmington Hills Patch.
As Politico explained it:
“For starters, he Pew report was written at the time to explain how
voter registration dates to the 19th century and is very much out of
step with modern technology and Americans’ mobile lifestyles. It
had nothing to do with the idea that people were actually voting in
two separate states in the same election, a scenario that the report’s
co-author said has resulted in just a ‘handful’ of prosecutions in
recent election cycles. Instead, the report was trying to highlight
a problem states face keeping tabs on their transitory residents as
they move from one place to another without also updating their
voter registration data.”
But Trump isn’t backing down. In the final presidential debate last
week, the New York businessman, real estate tycoon and reality
television star flashed his trademark impish grin when moderator
Chris Wallace pressed him to answer whether he would accept the
results of the election.
“I will look at it,” Trump responded. “I’ll keep you in suspense.”
Conservative Fox News talk show host Bill O’Reilly turned on Trump
Tuesday night, saying “the vote cannot possibly be rigged two weeks
from tonight.” On “The O’Reilly Factor,” he said Trump “should accept
whatever happens at that vote unless there is some compelling evidence
O’Reilly went on to say that “undermining our electoral system is not
a patriotic thing,” but said Trump’s complaint that “so many journalists
are committed to the left” that news coverage has been “rigged” is valid.
Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, has said that
volunteers are the “greatest vanguard for integrity in voting.” More
recently, he has asked supporters to “respectfully” participate in the
election as poll watchers and other volunteers.
What the Law Says
Federal election law prohibits fraud and discrimination at the polls,
including intimidating or bribing voters, buying and selling votes,
impersonating voters, altering vote tallies, stuffing ballot boxes and
marking ballots for voters against their wishes or without their input.
The law also contains special protections for the rights of voters and
provides that they can vote free from acts that intimidate or harass
Harassment or intimidation, which might include videotaping,
questioning or challenging a voter’s right to cast a ballot under the
guise of trying to uncover illegal voting, may violate federal voting
rights law, U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade of Michigan’s Eastern
District said in a statement. Further, federal law protects the right
of voters to mark their own ballot or to be assisted by a person of
“The franchise is the cornerstone of American democracy,” McQuade
said. “We all must ensure that those who are entitled to the franchise
exercise it if they choose, and that those who seek to corrupt it are
brought to justice.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Dawn N. Ison will lead oversight for the
Eastern District of Michigan and will report complaints of election
fraud and voting rights abuses to Lynch’s office in Washington, D.C.
Feature image by NicoleKlauss via Flickr Commons; video via YouTube
A SYRIAN refugee with four wives and 23 children has sparked outrage after it was claimed he was receiving a staggering £320,000 (Almost $400,000) a year in benefits. The migrant, known only as Ghazia A, fled Syria last year along with his family.
He has since resettled in Germany with his four wives and 22 of his children. One of his daughters has since moved to Saudi Arabia where she has married.
The family could be receiving more than £320,000 a year in benefits according to a financial manager on the Employers’ Association website.
There is no official confirmation on this figure.
Under Islamic tradition, the 49-year-old can have up to four wives – as long as he can support them financially.
Germany does not legally recognise polygamy, meaning that Ghazia A was forced to choose a “main wife” so the rest of the family could claim benefits. The other three wives are categorised as “friends” of the Syrian migrant.
But a local official in the town of Montabaur described the situation as an “exemption”.
Ghazia A now lives with his “main” wife Twasif and their five children in Montabaur, in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate – while the other three wives and children have been moved into neighbouring communities up to 31 miles away.
The man used to work in a garage and car hire service in his homeland but has not worked since resettling in Germany.
He expressed an interest in working again but noted his commitments to his family made this difficult.
He told German newspaper Bild: “In our religion it is my duty to visit every family and to be with them.”