Bush Terror-War Verbiage Rankles Hill GOP

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
Washington Times
May 12, 2008
Pg. 3
By Shaun Waterman, United Press International
The leak of Bush administration guidelines urging U.S. officials to avoid using terms such as "jihadi" or "Islamic terrorists" to refer to al Qaeda and similar groups has exposed a fault line in Republican thinking about the U.S. war on terrorism.
On Friday, every Republican member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence voted for an amendment to an intelligence bill that would have banned the use of federal cash to produce documents like the terminology guidelines from the U.S. National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC) that recently were leaked and posted online.
The NCTC guidelines say such shorthand "reinforces the 'U.S. vs. Islam' framework that [al Qaeda] promotes."
The amendment, authored by Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the panel's ranking Republican, was defeated on a party-line vote.
Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain of Arizona will continue to use the term "Islamic" terrorists in talking about al Qaeda, an aide told The Washington Times recently.
But a senior administration official involved in counterterrorism policy, told United Press International on the condition of anonymity that President Bush had been "absolutely at the forefront" of promoting and using the kind of language the guidelines recommend.
"The use of the word 'Islamic' before the word terrorist is heard by Muslims in the U.S. and elsewhere as a lack of nuance, which may incorrectly suggest that all Muslims are terrorists or that we are at war with Islam to the extent it is heard that way it is not in our interests to use it," the official said.
A search of the president's speeches and other public comments on the White House Web site conducted by David Schanzer, director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security at Duke University in North Carolina, found that Mr. Bush — who has repeatedly spoken about America's enemies — has used the term "Islamic terrorist" only once since the beginning of 2007.
"We have to be sensitive to the way our messages are heard by Muslim audiences," the senior official said.
But Mr. Hoekstra called it "sad that as we approach the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we are still debating how to define our enemy."
His amendment aimed to end what he called "McCarthyism in reverse" and "speech codes that encumber accurately describing the radical jihadist terrorists that attacked America."
The NCTC guide says "Never use the terms 'jihadist.' In Arabic, jihad means 'striving in the path of God' and is used in many contexts beyond warfare. Calling our enemies jihadis and their movement a global jihad unintentionally legitimizes their actions."
The senior official said the idea was not to stifle discussion or to deny "the reality that al Qaeda uses Islam to justify its actions and its program." But he added it was dangerous when "language is not used well or precisely."
The official said the debate over language was part of a broader discussion about how to define the enemy in the U.S.-led war on terrorism, with some officials and supporters thinking, along with historian Samuel Huntingdon, that the war on terrorism is part of a "clash of civilizations" with an inherently violent Islam.
"The fault line on this issue is part of the debate about the ideologies that buttress or may buttress al Qaeda," the senior official said.
"Representative Hoekstra believes in free speech and accurately defining our enemy," his spokesman Jamal Ware told UPI yesterday. "He will continue to fight against speech codes."