U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s demand that the government vow not to use drones on American soil without an “imminent threat” reflects the view of some Arab-Americans in Metro Detroit, the leader of an Islamic advocacy group said Wednesday.
“We’ve been long overdue for having a national conversation about the abuse of drones in extrajudicial killings,” said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Michigan. “It was just a matter of time before the conversation would turn to: Are we not going to use the drones here … the same as we do in Pakistan and Afghanistan?”
Walid spent hours Wednesday watching the Republican senator’s filibuster on the Senate floor, which delayed a vote to confirm John Brennan as CIA director as his continuous talking pushed into its 12th hour.
President Barack Obama’s choice of Brennan, 57, to head the Central Intelligence Agency has become entangled in growing tensions between Congress and the administration over its use of unmanned, armed drones to attack suspected members and allies of al-Qaeda. Brennan oversees the drone program as Obama’s counterterrorism adviser.
A former FBI agent and current anti-Islam activist believes that John Brennan, President Obama’s pick to head the CIA, is secretly a Muslim and therefore “unfit for duty” in the government.
On Friday, John Guandolo, the vice president of the Virginia-based Strategic Engagement Group (SEG), appeared on the Boca Raton-based radio show of Tom Trento, the president of the anti-”Shariah Islam” group The United West, formerly the Florida Security Council. Guandolo described how Brennan has supposedly “interwoven his life professionally and personally with individuals that we know are terrorists and he has given them access” to top officials in the federal government and “brought known Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood leaders into the government and into advisory positions.”
Guandolo continued that what “some would say is most disturbing, Mr. Brennan did convert to Islam when he served in an official capacity on behalf of the United States when he served in Saudi Arabia” and it “was the culmination of a counterintelligence operation against him to recruit him” by foreign operatives.
NEW YORK — President Barack Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser praised the New York Police Department’s work Friday, saying the agency has struck an appropriate balance between keeping people safe and protecting their rights.
“It’s not a trade-off between our security and our freedoms and our rights as citizens,” John Brennan said Friday in an appearance at NYPD headquarters. “I believe that that balance that we strike has been an appropriate one. We want to make sure that we’re able to optimize our security at the same time we optimize those freedoms that we hold and cherish so deeply.”
The comments from the top counterterrorism official in the White House follow months of debate over an NYPD domestic intelligence operation that placed Muslim businesses, mosques and student groups under surveillance. The Associated Press revealed the details of the program in a series of articles that won the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting earlier this week.
Brennan’s comments represent a White House stamp of approval of the NYPD’s tactics. For months, the Obama administration has sidestepped questions about the NYPD surveillance programs while insisting on the importance of building partnerships with American Muslims.
Threats from al-Qaida in the Arabian Penninsula caused the British and American Embassies in Sana’a to close their doors. Intelligence indicated impending attacks beginning three weeks ago.
The American Embassy is no stranger to terrorist threats. Al-Qaida set off a car bomb in September 2008 that killed 19 people, and shootout occurred in January 2009 between police and men in a car near the embassy. The American military has since increased security aid to Yemen. General Petraeus suggests increasing it to $150 millon in 2010.
There are clashes between Obama’s security team and members of the Bush Administration’s team, with Vice Presidenty Cheney accusing Obama of neglecting terrorism issues. Obama’s counterterrorism chief John Brennan accused Cheney of being ignorant of Obama’s plans for handling al-Qaida.