* Bumped Up From 09/22/12 *

Despite Obama’s attempt to position himself as a hard-hitting, pipe laying killer of terrorists, his actual policy is helping fuel a resurgence of terrorist strikes. It is true that CIA drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen have killed a raft of suspected terrorist operatives. Good. It is true that Obama, after much foot dragging, finally was pressured into giving SEAL Team Six the greenlight to kill Osama Bin Laden. But playing whack a mole is not a policy for combating terrorism. On that count, Obama is a failure and is endangering America.

The murder of US Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi, Libya on the anniversary of Al Qaeda’s terrorist strike in America was a stark reminder that the Islamic terrorists remain capable of inflicting harm if given the right environment. And what is that environment? A government that provides terrorists safe haven. Despite US efforts to help oust Libya’s previous tyrant and terrorist supporter–the inimitable Moammar Quaddafi–Obama and his national security team decided to be little more than spectators in helping install a new regime in Tripoli. Unfortunately, the new rulers in Libya had no effective control and Islamic radicals were given space to train and reconstitute.

Rather than take precautions and adopt a policy to identify and destroy the Libyan radical Islamists, Obama and Hillary decided to accommodate and ignore. The payoff for that policy came last week as the US consulate was torched, our Ambassador slaughtered, and other US citizens working for the US Government slain.

And what was Obama’s initial reaction to this?

As I correctly reported, Obama and Hillary tried to deny it was a terrorist attack and lamely characterized this as a spontaneous riot sparked by some obscure anti-Mohammed video no one had seen. But that story now has been completely discredited and, after repeated denials that this was terrorism, the Obama team have reversed course:

Despite clear indications that the attack in Benghazi was an organized, pre-planned terrorist strike, Obama and Hillary and UN Ambassador Susan Rice tried to push the lie that this was just an isolated, spontaneous act of violence. To admit that it was terrorism would be to concede that the Obama team was caught unprepared for terrorism and that appropriate countermeasures and security procedures were not in place. This is worse than mere negligence.

Obama has time to play multiple rounds of golf, but has no time for daily intelligence briefings (which included warnings of possible threats in Libya) and was completely out of touch with the absence of adequate security for his personal representative to Libya.

What is transpiring in Libya is not an isolated incident. With the tacit support of the Obama Administration, the Muslim Brothers have taken control of Egypt and are encouraging the resurgence of the radical theology that gave birth to Al Qaeda more than 20 years ago. The United States policy is, at best, one of idle spectating. Rather than trying to promote a clear vision of secular government based on the rule of law, Obama’s naive, leftist vision is passive aggressive. He cedes political power to tyrants in the name of allowing democracy to go forward. The leaders throughout the Middle East clearly understand that the United States is no longer engaged nor a dependable ally.

The result? Each country moving to pursue their own interest without regard to what the United States might think or desire. Consequently, simmering sectarian strife is boiling over across the region. Sunnis battling Shias in Syria and Iraq. Kurds battling Turks and Iraqis. Taliban rebuilding in Afghanistan as the United States withdraws without securing a peace or a ceasefire.

The situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan is very alarming. Pakistan remains the most active sponsor of terrorist activity in the world. Without money and protection from Pakistan’s Intelligence Service, the Taliban would be far less effective and deadly. While Obama is already celebrating as “victory” his decision to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan. All this does is prove to the religious extremists that Allah is on their side and that the infidels of the West are being vanquished.

Back in Washington, the Obama policy on counter terrorism is in disarray. No one is in charge. State Department, which once was given the lead for coordinating US international policy on this matter, no longer wields any effective leadership. In fact, the current Coordinator for Counter Terrorism, Dan Benjamin, has been effectively sidelined as a player in the Washington bureaucracy. Like Barack Obama, Benjamin is an empty suit in an empty chair. Want proof? Just this week State notified Congress that it is removing a terrorist group–the MEK–from the US list that identifies groups responsible for international terrorist attacks. They are doing this after a coordinated propaganda campaign backed by conservatives and neocons even though the MEK is implicated in recent terrorist attacks inside Iran. The Obama team is sending the message that terrorism is okay as long as you attack our adversaries.

Well, that mindset is why countries like Pakistan and Iran also sponsor terrorist attacks. As long as violence serves your national ambitions and purposes, killing innocents is okay. That is the message being sent by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Rather than take a hardline against terrorism, we are back to the vacillation and confusion that was the hallmark of the Presidency of Jimmy Carter and the first term of Ronald Reagan. (Despite popular mythology of Reagan as tough on terror, it was not until halfway through his second term that Reagan finally took steps to organize the United States government to confront the threat.)

We cannot kill our way out of terrorism. While I am all in favor of killing active and prospective terrorists, the key to effectively countering terrorists is to persuade countries to deny all support and protection to those individuals and groups who want to engage in such activity. The reason that Islamic radicals still retain the capability to mount strikes like the one last week in Libya is that the host government failed to make such activity unacceptable. Instead, the radicals were allowed access to funding and training. With safe haven, terrorists can thrive and prosper.

The policies of Barack Obama in the Middle East are creating an opening for Islamic terrorists to reconstitute. What happened last week in Libya is a preview of coming attractions if Obama is reelected.

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Larry C. Johnson is a former analyst at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, who moved subsequently in 1989 to the U.S. Department of State, where he served four years as the deputy director for transportation security, antiterrorism assistance training, and special operations in the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism. He left government service in October 1993 and set up a consulting business. He currently is the co-owner and CEO of BERG Associates, LLC (Business Exposure Reduction Group) and is an expert in the fields of terrorism, aviation security, and crisis and risk management, and money laundering investigations. Johnson is the founder and main author of No Quarter, a weblog that addresses issues of terrorism and intelligence and politics. NoQuarterUSA was nominated as Best Political Blog of 2008.