Obama official takes shots at Bush’s words
President Barack Obama’s counterterrorism adviser on Thursday offered a pointed critique of several of former President George W. Bush’s catch phrases on terrorism.
Veteran spy John Brennan, once in line to head the Central Intelligence Agency under Obama and apparently no great fan of the Bush White House, gave a lengthy speech outlining Obama’s strategy for fighting terrorism which attempts to go beyond, using military might to include economic and social policies.
Brennan criticized Bush’s moniker “global war on terror” as playing into the “warped narrative that al Qaeda propagates.” He added that it “plays into the misleading and dangerous notion that the U.S. is somehow in conflict with the rest of the world.”
He also had choice words for Bush regularly describing the terrorism battle as one against “jihadists,” saying that the term has a legitimate use (purifying oneself or waging a holy struggle for a moral goal) and using it “risks giving these murderers the religious legitimacy they desperately seek but in no way deserve.”
Officials from the Obama and Bush administrations have been trading volleys for months about each other’s policies, though for the most part the two presidents have stayed above the fray.
One other phrase that Bush used two months after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington was about countries being involved in or distancing themselves from the coalition that went into Afghanistan.
“Over time it’s going to be important for nations to know they will be held accountable for inactivity, that you — either with us or you’re against us in the fight against terror,” Bush said during a news availability with then French President Jacques Chirac.
That drew another rebuke from Brennan, who said that the Obama administration was reaching out instead of issuing sweeping warnings.
“Rather than looking at allies and other nations through the narrow prism of terrorism—whether they are with us or against us—the administration is now engaging other countries and peoples across a broader range of areas,” he said.
Brennan did acknowledge that it was eight years ago this very day that he was reading intelligence that warned Osama bin Laden was determined to strike inside the United States, “but our government was unable to prevent the worst terrorist attack in American history that would occur on 9/11.”
- Photo credit: Jonathan Ernst (Brennan walks outside the White House earlier this year)