ForexTV NewsDesk | October 17 2012 3:48 EDT
ForexTV.com (New York) by Timothy Kelly
The Obama Administration has consistently circumvented any discussion of the definition of the word "Terrorism" dating back to 2009. It has been the policy of the Obama Administration from the beginning not to acknowledge the term, perhaps thinking if they avoid acknowledging it, it could not happen on their watch. More importantly, using the term "terrorism" confers the onus of culpability onto the administration, a responsibility they are hard-pressed to accept.
The first documented case of the Obama Administration obfuscating the issue of defining the term "terrorism" was by former Obama White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs at a press conference on November 9, 2009. This press conference was held shortly after the murders that took place at Fort Hood in Memphis, Tn. A reporter identified only as Jennifer by Mr. Gibbs asks about the determination by the White House over whether the Fort Hood incident has been classified as an "act of terrorism." The following is the exchange between the reporter [Jennifer] and Mr. Gibbs:
Q And then separately, what does the White House know about any contacts by the Fort Hood shooter or ties to al Qaeda?
MR. GIBBS: Obviously, Jennifer, this is a continuing investigation that's being led jointly by DOD and FBI. The President has been very clear with everyone that no stone should be left unturned to figure out how and why this happened, and to ensure that it never happens again. I think the FBI will have updates on their investigation later on this afternoon and I think that's the best place to go for that information.
Q Has there been a determination about whether it was terrorist -- an act of terrorism?
MR. GIBBS: I think the FBI is the best place to address that. I do not know that they have a lot more on motive, but they'll have updates this afternoon.
Then again just a few moments later by an unidentified reporter:
Q And in terms of the investigation itself, leaving the details to the FBI and military investigators, does the White House view the suspect as a terrorism suspect at this point? Or is this somebody who is a lone figure?
MR. GIBBS: That should be addressed by the FBI. That's who has equities in all of that.
Yet, again another reporter asks Mr. Gibbs:
Q Robert, I have a question on Fort Hood and also abortion. I understand you're leaving the determination of whether this was an act of terrorism up to the FBI. But what is the White House's definition of an act of terrorism?
MR. GIBBS: I'm not a law enforcement official, Mara. This obviously is a continuing investigation, and if you've got questions about where that investigation is, I think the FBI is going to --
Q -- I just want to know if there is a definition of an act of terrorism that you --
MR. GIBBS: I'm not going to get into the back-and-forth of this.
Finally, a fourth reporter asks the question:
Q And then back on the issue of terror -- not terrorizing, terrorism, just terror -- the definition of terror: "one that instills intense fear; also the unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group” – also, one more – “panic, an overwhelming feeling of fear and anxiety." These people at Fort Hood went through those feelings. We clearly saw it. Would you classify, from the definitions that I gave --
MR. GIBBS: Again, I'm not a law enforcement official, April. I will say this. I think the entire country from -- certainly from the very first reports that we got about this, and my communications about that with the President, we have -- I think everybody has been shocked and dismayed at what happened, and pass our thoughts, our prayers, and our condolences on to those who suffered loss for loved ones in this incident.
Q Do you believe there was terror there at least? Could you at least say terror?
MR. GIBBS: I've now had three opportunities to be a law enforcement officer.
Q -- but I'm serious, from the definitions.
MR. GIBBS: No, no, I'm not -- if you have investigation questions, the FBI is the place.
It is beyond understanding why a White House Press Secretary cannot or would not offer the definition of the technical term "terrorism" when it is fairly well- defined by the FBI itself in the Code of Federal Regulations. According to the Code of Federal Regulations:
There is no single, universally accepted, definition of terrorism. Terrorism is defined in the Code of Federal Regulations as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives” (28 C.F.R. Section 0.85).
The FBI further describes terrorism as either domestic or international, depending on the origin, base, and objectives of the terrorist organization. For the purpose of this report, the FBI will use the following definitions:
§ Domestic terrorism is the unlawful use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual based and operating entirely within the United States or Puerto Rico without foreign direction committed against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof in furtherance of political or social objectives.
§ International terrorism involves violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or any state, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or any state. These acts appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or affect the conduct of a government by assassination or kidnapping. International terrorist acts occur outside the United States or transcend national boundaries in terms of the means by which they are accomplished, the persons they appear intended to coerce or intimidate, or the locale in which their perpetrators operate or seek asylum.
The FBI Divides Terrorist-Related Activities into Two Categories:
§ A terrorist incident is a violent act or an act dangerous to human life, in violation of the criminal laws of the United States, or of any state, to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.
§ A terrorism prevention is a documented instance in which a violent act by a known or suspected terrorist group or individual with the means and a proven propensity for violence is successfully interdicted through investigative activity.
There are very specific ways of describing "Terrorism" and it would not be a stretch to assume the entire White House staff is familiar with the issue of terrorists and the legislation surrounding it. The term "terrorist" is a highly technical term and fairly well-defined by the FBI. Why then did the Obama Administration fear defining this word? If it turns out that the White House was truly ignorant to the technical meaning of the word, then that would be an altogether different, and exceedingly more disturbing dilema.
On October 10, 2012, present White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, was somewhat more forthcoming, yet the terms used in describing the technical act of terrorism are inconsistent and imprecise...and not backed-up by the rhetoric that surrounds the statement. Here is what Mr. Carney offered to reporters after being pressed by ABC's, Jake Tapper:
MR. CARNEY: I think you saw the head of the NCTC testify about what we knew at that time, which was after both I and Ambassador Rice and others spoke about what we knew prior to that. And it was Mr. Olsen’s assessment, in his testimony, which was the same assessment that we all have and we all receive and we all work from, that new information had led us to believe that it was, at that time, an assessment based on that information -- that there had not been a protest but that there were -- that elements had been involved in the attack, extremist elements, and that it was a terrorist attack.
I would point out, however, that the President himself said the day after, or two days after, that referred to it as an act of terror.
The media does not give up, but presses in the same manner as above with Mr. Gibbs:
Q Jay, you’ve been citing Under Secretary Kennedy and what he’s saying in public today. Congressional sources have said that on September 12th, the day after the attacks, Under Secretary Kennedy did a conference call with congressional staffers and others, a day after the attacks and said then, this was not a protest, this was not a spontaneous reaction to the anti-Muslim video, that this was a coordinated attack.
And so my question is -- that was four days before Ambassador Rice went out on television, five shows, and said that we believe that it is a reaction. Did she, did you and others mislead the public because you didn’t want to admit there was a terror attack?
MR. CARNEY: Absolutely not. The President of the United States referred to it as an act of terror immediately after it occurred, Ed, as you know. Two, Pat Kennedy, the Under Secretary of State for Management, is testifying in public today. So I would look to what he says before your cameras and the American people, rather than what congressional sources, whoever they may be, may be telling you. What he is saying is that --
Q But hold on for one second. You’re saying that on September 12th the President called it terrorism -- he used a phrase like act of terror --
MR. CARNEY: Act of terror.
Q -- act of terror will -- then why were you at this podium for several days after that saying, we don’t know if it’s terrorism? If you’re now saying that --
MR. CARNEY: I never said that. I never said we don’t know if it’s terrorism. There was an issue about the definition of terrorism. This is by definition an act of terror, as the President made clear. What we were talking about is what --
Q So you’re saying now, just to be clear, on September 12th, the President believed it was terrorism?
MR. CARNEY: He said it was an act of terror, Ed. It was clearly, definitionally, if you look at the definition of terrorism, an assault with arms on a diplomatic --
Q But we asked you several days after that, is it terrorism, and you kept saying, we don’t know. How can you revise that?
MR. CARNEY: Ed, first of all, I would check the transcript. The issue was, what led to the attack. And that has been an issue that we have provided assessments of based on the information that we have gleaned through the intelligence community, preliminary information. And we have made clear all along -- as Ambassador Rice has made clear -- parts of these clips that I’m sure don’t always appear on some air, where she makes clear on Sunday, September 16th, that these were preliminary assessments based on preliminary information.
Q Several days after the President had said it was terror.
MR. CARNEY: You’re making a distinction between an act of terror and what led to the attack. An assault with violence and force and weapons against a diplomatic facility is by definition an act of terror.
Q So let me ask you then, since it’s been noted that tomorrow will be the one-month anniversary of this terror attack -- why hasn’t the President given a speech or a news conference laying out to the American people sort of the aftermath of what was a terror attack, four Americans killed? Instead, the Republicans have been hitting him for talking about Big Bird several days out on the campaign trail. He doesn’t talk about this act of terror when he goes out and talks with voters. Why won’t he talk about it?
Once again, the Administration is well aware of the confusion that ensues around the interchanging of terms, "terrorism", "act of terror", "terror" and "terror acts." The press has been hounding the White House for years to use clear language on this issue to no avail.
At the Hofstra University debate, the President continued to play the cat and mouse game on using clear, technical language on the issue by refusing to call the attacks on the Benghazi Mission a "Terrorist Act." The President is well aware of the benefit of plausible denial, by avoiding using the technical term.
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