With another Republican presidential slugfest scheduled for Wednesday and the Democrats swinging away again on Thursday, I thought it might be a useful public service to provide some questions for the debate — after all, the folks at CNN and the Los Angeles Times have many important things to do, and there are some issues I think it’s very likely they’ll overlook. So here is a cribsheet they are welcome to use, free of charge, with a few questions I, for one, would like to see the candidates of both parties answer:
1. What would you do to deal with the national security aspect of immigration? With plans afoot to bring large groups of Iraqis, including Iraqi Muslims, into the United States, what kind of screening will you implement to ensure that we are not importing jihad terrorists into the country? Will you reevaluate immigration levels from Muslim countries based on recognition of the fact that there is no reliable way to distinguish a peaceful Muslim from a jihadist sympathizer or potential jihadist?
2. Forty percent of the foreign jihadists fighting against American troops in Iraq come from a putative ally of the United States, Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom is also one of the world’s leading bankrollers of terror. A Treasury Department official who tracks terror financing, Stuart Levey, recently remarked: “If I could somehow snap my fingers and cut off the funding from one country, it would be Saudi Arabia.” What will you do as President to work toward ending the absurd situation we find ourselves in today, of financing by means of oil revenue our own destruction by means of jihad terrorism? What steps would you take to put our relationship with Saudi Arabia on a more realistic footing than it is on today?
3. Some members of Congress are now considering opening hearings on the firing of the Pentagon’s sole expert on Islamic law, Major Stephen Coughlin. Apparently, a top aide to Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England, Hesham Islam, took exception to what Coughlin was telling Pentagon brass about the elements of Islam that jihadists use to recruit terrorists and justify acts of violence, and got Coughlin canned.
Of course, we cannot defeat an enemy we do not understand, and haven’t studied. Moreover, there are also serious questions about England’s aide: terrorism expert Stephen Emerson has called Hesham Islam “an Islamist with a pro-Muslim Brotherhood bent who has brought in groups to the Pentagon who have been unindicted co-conspirators.”
If that is true, it raises serious questions about the extent of jihadist infiltration within the highest levels of our defense apparatus.
If you are elected President, what will you do to root out possible Muslim Brotherhood operatives and other jihadist sympathizers from sensitive government positions? What kind of screening will you institute for Muslim military and intelligence officials in order to try to ensure their loyalty to the United States and their rejection of the jihad ideology and Islamic supremacism? And specifically, what will you do about Hesham Islam and Stephen Coughlin?
4. In the last week, Spanish officials thwarted a jihad attack on the transit system in Barcelona, arresting ten suspects. It has come to light that these terrorists planned their attacks at meetings inside a Barcelona mosque, where bombmaking materials were discovered. It also came to light last week that jihadists were recruiting for terrorist attacks in mosques in Montreal before 9/11.
These revelations follow a large number of other incidents in which jihadists used mosques to plot terrorist attacks and to recruit. As President, would you favor the monitoring of mosques in the United States in order to ensure that that kind of thing is not happening here? What other steps would you take? Would you call upon the Muslim community in America to institute comprehensive and transparent programs in mosques and Islamic schools, teaching against the jihad ideology and Islamic supremacism, and extolling the virtues of American pluralism, democracy, and the non-establishment of a state religion?
If we saw questions like those asked — and answered, fully and honestly — we might be on the way toward a comprehensive and sensible response to the jihad challenge both abroad and right here at home. But we aren’t even close to there yet, and one thing is certain: nothing like these questions will be asked of any of the candidates this week.