Newt’s National Security Demagoguery

2012 GOP Presidential Candidate Newt Gingrich.<a target="_blank" href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/5843839743/sizes/m/in/photostream/">Flickr/Gage Skidmore</a>

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How dangerous is President Obama? According to Newt Gingrich, the president who ordered the raid on Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan is “incapable of defending the United States,” later offering as an example the fact that the authorities “barely got a guy on Saturday who’s tried to blow up the US Capitol.” 

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. You could almost say Gingrich has a “fundamental misunderstanding” of how these things work. 

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