May 09, 2014

#BokoHaram: A possible actual scandal of sorts for Hillary Clinton?

No, it's not the Benghazi embassy stuff, even though the House has, pretty much on party-line vote, created a special investigative panel there that's sure to be stacked with wingnuts.

Rather, it's the fact that the Department of State that Clinton ran for more than four years did not officially "certify" the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram as being a terrorist group until November 2013. Here's the crux of the issue:
The letter asks “Under federal statute, militant groups must meet three standards to be classified as a foreign terrorist organization. For designation as an FTO, a group must be a terrorist organization, it must engage terrorist activity (or retain the intent and capability to do so), and it must threaten the security of American nationals or the national security of the United States. Why, when it was clear as early as 2011 that Boko Haram met all of these conditions, was the FTO designation not made until November 2013?”

King and Meehan go on to raise further questions about the government’s response to the Nigerian terrorist group and state “it is critical that we address the threat posed by Boko Haram before it has the ability to export its violence and harm American interests and potentially Americans themselves.”
It may be true that State, as claimed by reliable Democratic flaks, was doing some behind-the-scenes work, but, given the kidnapping of some 350 schoolchildren this week, it obviously wasn't enough. Hayes Brown may be halfway right. Steve Benen's just a hack trying to disguise himself as a journalist, no less so than wingnuts.

That said, Nigeria, like the Middle East, is awash with oil, though that oil is in the largely non-Muslim south. And, oil complicates everything, or we let it complicate everything.

Here's the Beast's original story, which could also show Clinton as a bit of a hypocrite for now worrying about women and girls:
(H)er own State Department refused to place Boko Haram on the list of foreign terrorist organizations in 2011, after the group bombed the U.N. headquarters in Abuja. The refusal came despite the urging of the Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA, and over a dozen senators and congressmen.
While the angst since then has been primarily Republican, it's had enough Democratic involvement to be at least semi-bipartisan.

The Beast gives fair space to the anti-designation argument, which isn't one that's all wet. Nonetheless, when coupled with still-lingering aroma over Benghazi (some, CIA-related, will remain deeply buried by both mainstream parties), this isn't good "optics" for Clinton. She's just lucky it's May 2014 and not, say, October 2015. Somehow, if this were then, somebody would be resurrecting her old "3 a.m. phone call" ad she ran against then-Senator Barack Obama.

Anyway, even with giving the anti-designation folks a tip of the hat, if Nigeria wasn't reaching out beyond its borders for a regional initiative, why weren't we? Especially given that the kidnappings are revealing more and more a government of dysfunctionality there.

To be sure, the GOP is already exploiting this issue. To also be sure, contra the hackish Benen in particular, and the quasi-tribalist Think Progress in general, that still doesn't mean there aren't legitimate issues involved. And, it doesn't mean that these issues only seem legitimate with hindsight.

Beyond that, the rise of Boko Haram ties with other things identified as "Westernizing," like oil-based corruption, which has tendrils with some connection to Dick Cheney, and more. If both Clinton and Obama wanted to address Boko Haram, we'd push to further develop solar energy in both the US and Nigeria as part of that.

And, that bipartisan foreign policy establishment issue, scolding Hillary Clinton for fundraising or other political points aside, may make things worse. Among the "worse" could be more cries to increase US military presence in Africa. Add on other Westernizing ideas that only feed Boko Haram's contempt, like the calls for moar "social media" and "hastags — including you, Ms. First Lady Dear Leader, and it only gets worse. Is there such a thing as "social media imperialism"?

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