Newt Gingrich took an odd shot at President Obama’s national security record this morning, arguing that the administration’s foreign policy “has been so effective, they barely got a guy on Saturday who’s tried to blow up the U.S. Capitol.”
“Barely”? It’s true that the FBI arrested a 29-year-old Moroccan man who hoped to execute a suicide bombing at the Capitol, but as Adam Serwer explained, Gingrich’s description of the developments is at odds with reality.
Authorities “barely” foiled the plot only if, by “barely,” Gingrich means they controlled the entire thing from beginning to end. Last Friday, an undocumented Moroccan immigrant named Amine El Khalifi was arrested in an alleged plot to suicide bomb the US Capitol – a plot that, according to the criminal complaint, was being monitored by the FBI for the past thirteen months and was planned only after Khalifi made contact with an undercover agent.
When Khalifi finally showed up to carry the operation out, according to the complaint, it was with equipment he had been given by the FBI: A bomb that wouldn’t detonate and a gun that wouldn’t fire. This kind of sting operation, where the plot itself is never really in danger of actually coming to fruition, and which critics say amount to entrapment, has been a prevailing trend in domestic counterterrorism for the past few years.
The FBI got the guy, but “barely”? C’mon.
I’d just add that there’s no reason for Gingrich to pursue this as a line of attack. Under Obama, al Qaeda has been reeling, to the point that the terrorist network is now starting to crumble, and plenty of would-be terrorists – Najibullah Zazi, Talib Islam, Hosam Maher Husein Smadi – have been caught and arrested before they could execute their plots.
So what is it, exactly, that Gingrich is complaining about?