[Marxism] Breathtaking ignorance of ruling class politicians
lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Dec 12 17:11:28 MST 2006
True or False: U.S. Intel Leaders Fail Quiz on the Basics of Islam
by Z. Byron Wolf, ABC News
Quick. Without thinking or Googling, who are the
senators from Wyoming? The Chinese president?
What are the two main sects of Islam? Al Qaeda members follow which sect?
Pretty hard, huh?
A reporter recently directed the questions about
Islam to Texas Democratic Rep. Silvestre Reyes.
Reyes failed, which would perhaps not be a big
deal if Reyes were an ordinary congressman.
But he's not.
Come January, Reyes will chair the House
Intelligence Committee, which oversees all U.S.
intelligence activity, a good portion of which is
directed toward the war on terror.
Reyes could not tell Congressional Quarterly's
national security editor Jeff Stein whether al
Qaeda was made up of Sunnis or Shiites.
From Stein's scathing column on the exchange:
"Al Qaeda, they have both," Reyes said. "You're talking about predominately?"
"Sure," I said, not knowing what else to say.
"Predominantly -- probably Shiite," he ventured."
-- Congressional Quarterly
Reyes was wrong despite having a 50-50 chance of success.
"Issues like al Qaeda and the Middle East deserve
serious discussion and consideration," Reyes said
in a statement after the column was posted on CQ's Web site.
"The CQ interview covered a wide range of topics
other than the selected points published in the
story. As a Member of the Intelligence Committee
since before 9/11, I'm acutely aware of al
Qaeda's desire to harm Americans. The
Intelligence Committee will keep its eye on the
ball, and focus on the pressing security and intelligence issues facing us."
For his part, Stein realizes maybe even he could
not pass a detailed quiz on Islam.
"I don't pretend to be an expert on this stuff,
either," Stein said to ABC. "That's the irony of
this thing. But I cover intelligence, so I have
to have a functional knowledge of Islam."
Stein said he kept the quiz easy for Reyes. "I
didn't even go to the tough questions. Like what is Wahabism?"
Reyes is not the only congressman on the
intelligence committee who has trouble with these basic questions about Islam.
Republicans Jo Ann Davis, R-Va., and Terry
Everett, R-Ala., also failed this test, and Stein
wrote about them in a previous column.
Stein has made a cottage industry of asking these
questions of lawmakers from both parties and FBI counterterrorism officials.
He has received the same blank stares that Jay
Leno gets when he stops people on the street and
asks them to name the first American president.
That's a comedy show, though. This is Congress.
Stein cedes that not all Congress members have failed the quiz.
"Some of the people I've asked these questions
have known them," Stein said. "Zoe Lofgren, the
ranking Democrat on the intelligence subcommittee
of the House Homeland Security Committee, knew it
very well. [Rep.] Jane Harman, too. She kind of
rolled her eyes and said, 'Where do you want me
to start? Fourteen-hundred years ago there was a
split in Islam.' ... And I said, 'OK, you know."
It should be noted that incoming House Speaker
Nancy Pelosi bumped Harman, D-Calif., out of her
position as the ranking Democrat on the
Intelligence Committee in favor of Reyes.
In case you, like Reyes, were not aware, Shiite
and Sunni are the two main branches of Islam.
The differences between these two are at the
heart of what people in the news business are
calling "sectarian strife" and "civil war" in Iraq.
"Shiites, who account for some 10 percent to 20
percent of the world's Muslims, split off from
the mainstream of Islamic practice because of a
disagreement about who was rightfully qualified
to lead the Muslim community," says the
nonpartisan Council on Foreign Relations in a
background paper on the subject posted on its Web site.
"Shiites believe Islam's leader should be a
descendant of the Prophet Mohammed. Sunnis say
leaders should be chosen through ijma, or
consensus. Shiites revere Ali ibn Abi Talib, the
Prophet Mohammed's cousin and son-in-law, who was
killed while serving as the top leader, or
Caliph, of Islam in the 7th century. His tomb is
in Najaf, Iraq's holiest Shiite city."
On-the-spot, off-the-cuff questions from
reporters have long been a thorn in the side of politicians.
President Bush was famously quizzed by a TV
reporter in Boston in November 1999 about the
names of world leaders. He went one for four.
Since then he has gotten some on-the-job training.
One of the world leaders Bush was unable to name
was General Pervez Musharraf, who at that time
had recently taken control of Pakistan in a
military coup. Today Musharraf is a major ally of Bush's in the war on terror.
Previous House Intelligence Committee chairmen
have had a history, too, of putting their feet in their mouths.
Rep. Porter Goss, R-Fla., chaired the House
Intelligence Committee from 1997 until 2005, when
he resigned to be nominated by Bush as CIA director.
Goss had been a CIA agent in the 1960s and 1970s,
but told liberal filmmaker Michael Moore long
before his nomination to head the agency, that he
would not now be qualified even to become an agent.
"It is true I was in CIA from approximately the
late '50s to approximately the early '70s," Goss said to Moore.
"And it's true I was a case officer, clandestine
services office, and yes I do understand the core
mission of the business. I couldn't get a job
with CIA today. I am not qualified. I don't have
the language skills. I, you know, my language
skills were romance languages and stuff. We're
looking for Arabists today. I don't have the
cultural background probably. And I certainly
don't have the technical skills, uh, as my
children remind me every day, 'Dad, you got to
get better on your computer.' Uh, so, the things
that you need to have, I don't have."Goss had
been a CIA agent in the 1960s and 1970s, but told
liberal filmmaker Michael Moore long before his
nomination to head the agency, that would not now
be qualified even to become an agent.
Moore conveniently released the interview, which
had been stripped from his movie "Fahrenheit
911," before Goss' confirmation hearings.
Quiz Answers: The senators from Wyoming are
Republicans Mike Enzi and Craig Thomas, and the Chinese president is Hu Jintao.
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