Two years ago this month, a bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate to pressure the Obama administration into designating the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). What became of that bill is a disheartening story of Washington and New Hampshire politics.
The bill, called the Boko Haram Terrorist Designation Act of 2012, bullet-pointed some of Boko Haram’s atrocities and links to other terror groups. It required Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to report to Congress on why she would or would not designate the group an FTO.
The Secretary of State is the one who makes FTO designations, which come with various hardships for the designated group.
The Congressional Record’s complete listing of all action on the bill reads as follows: “read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.” The bill died in the Foreign Relations Committee, on which Sen. Jeanne Shaheen sits.
The effort to classify Boko Haram as a terrorist group was not partisan. President Obama’s own Justice Department wanted it. Assistant Attorney General Lisa Monaco, who oversaw national security issues for the Justice Department, wrote to the State Department in January of 2012 to urge Secretary Clinton to put Boko Haram on the FTO list. Both Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Gen. Carter Ham, head of U.S. Africa Command in 2012, said Boko Haram was tied to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.
In June of 2012, President Obama designated three top Boko Haram leaders as terrorists. But the administration refused to give the group FTO status, even as it murdered Christians and railed against the West. This week Politico exposed the reason for the President’s and Secretary Clinton’s reluctance to designate Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization: politics.
“According to current and former U.S. officials, the reluctance of Hillary Clinton’s State Department to designate Boko Haram as a foreign terrorist organization in the summer of 2012 was no isolated case; it was partly rooted in a larger effort by the Obama administration to narrowly define al-Qaida and deemphasize the rise of its new affiliates, especially in Africa,” Politico reported on Monday.
Designating Boko Haram as a terrorist organization, like admitting Benghazi was a terror attack, would have undermined — during a presidential election year — the President’s narrative that he had curtailed the spread of Islamist terror. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee aided the President by killing the Boko Haram Terrorist Designation Act. Shaheen, ever the loyal partisan, sat in silence as a few senators tried in vain to weaken the group that two years later would kidnap hundreds of schoolgirls in an actual war on women, not the imaginary one in which Democrats accuse Scott Brown of taking part.
What does Scott Brown have to do with this? He was the sponsor of the Boko Haram Terrorist Designation Act. The man who tried in vain to stop a real war on women and on education (Boko Haram means Western Learning Forbidden) is accused of being anti-woman by allies of a senator who did nothing to stop those wars.