Brennan Signals 'Our Saudi Partners'
When President Obama met Saudi King Abdullah in London in 2009, the former bowed low before the latter. No American president had ever so abased himself before one of the world's most oppressive rulers before.
Now, Mr. Obama has nominated John Brennan to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Signals Intelligence, or sigint, is the science of interpreting signals sent by enemies of the United States. With his Arabic-language skills, John Brennan ought to be good at interpreting signals.
He's very good at sending them. When he spoke of Jerusalem -- his "most loved city in the world" -- he referred to it first by its Arabic name, al Quds. Nobody refers to Jerusalem as al Quds unless he wants to send a signal: "I agree with you."
Every Arabic-speaking country denies the right of Israel to exist. Every one yearns to see Jerusalem swept free of Jews and called al Quds. When the Jordanians controlled East Jerusalem (1949-1967), they banned all the Jews from living there and from visiting Jewish holy places there. They even desecrated thousand-year-old graves in Jewish cemeteries there.
That's what is meant by al Quds. When you say you love this city more than any other and give it its Arabic name, you are sending the most terrible message. You are feeding into the Arab narrative that calls the establishment of the Jewish state Nakba -- the Day of Catastrophe.
John Brennan obviously rejects Winston Churchill's advice to Western statesmen: "Let the Jews have Jerusalem. It is they who made it famous." Churchill was no enemy to Arabs. Churchill even created Jordan as an Arab state and gave it a Hashemite ruling family.
But Churchill would not abase himself and the British people before these desert despots. As President Obama has done to us as Americans. As John Brennan is doing to us and to our allies in Israel.
John Brennan speaks of "our Saudi partners." Partners in what? Mr. Brennan won't speak of a global war on terror. He rejects the use of jihadism to describe Muslim terrorists, since he regards jihad as a legitimate expression of a religion of peace and tolerance.
How tolerant is Saudi Arabia? Mr. Brennan might consult our own U.S. State Department Report on International Religious Freedom:
Freedom of religion is neither recognized nor protected under the law and is severely restricted in practice. ... The [Saudi] legal system is based on the government's application of the Hanbali School of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence. The public practice of any religion other than Islam is prohibited, and there is no separation between state and religion.
If the Saudis will not cooperate with us on basic human rights, like freedom of speech and religion, might they at least be "our partners" in fighting al-Qaeda, right? After all, al-Qaeda says it wants to overthrow King Abdullah, the man to whom Mr. Obama shows obeisance.
The Report of the 9/11 Commission shows that the Saudis are not willing to help us even on this. In 1998, Vice President Al Gore traveled to Saudi Arabia to seek then-Crown Prince Abdullah's help in questioning Madani al Tayyib. Tayyib was a leading finance officer of al-Qaeda, held by the Saudis since 1997. The official report on Gore's failed diplomatic mission ends with this line: "The United States never obtained this access."
Had we been able to "follow the money," we might have unraveled the al-Qaeda plot to attack the United States. We may never know if by interrogating Tayyib we could have saved thousands of American lives and trillions of American dollars.
This much should be clear: the Saudis are not "our partners," as John Brennan says they are. When American lives are at stake, the Saudis are no friends.
John Brennan came away from his CIA tour in Saudi Arabia in the late 1990s filled with nothing but goodwill and admiration for what he calls our Saudi partners. Was he there when Al Gore begged for the Saudis' help?
Brennan's astonishing naivety alone should raise serious doubts about his serving as director of America's most sensitive intelligence agency. Every American who cherishes liberty and security has a right to be alarmed at such a disastrous choice for DCIA -- and appalled by a president who could make it.
Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison are senior fellows with the Family Research Council, in Washington, D.C.