On Thursday, Senator Ted Cruz is set to announce his campaign’s national security advisory team, and it includes many foreign-policy insurgents and a few more establishment types. The list includes conservatives who disagree on one of the most pressing issues facing the next president: defining and confronting radical Islam.
The first name on the advisory list that stands out is Frank Gaffney, a former Reagan administration Pentagon official who has emerged as a lightning rod in the Obama era, accused by the Southern Poverty Law Center of being one of the nation’s leading Islamophobes.
….also three others who work for Gaffney’s think tank: former CIA officers Fred Fleitz and Clare Lopez and former Army Special Forces Master Sergeant Jim Hanson. Also on the list is Andrew McCarthy, a former assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted the first World Trade Center bombing. McCarthy has been outspoken in his view that adherents at least to political Islam are seeking to impose Sharia law in the U.S.
Jim Talent, a former Missouri Republican senator who was a key adviser to Romney in 2008 and 2012, is signed up for the Cruz team. So is Mary Habeck, a former staffer on George W. Bush’s national security council, who is an expert on jihadi organizations and has warned against demonizing the entire religion of Islam.
Another Cruz adviser, Elliott Abrams, helped craft Bush’s policy to empower moderate Muslims in the Middle East against radicals. He told me he feels much the same way as Habeck. “It’s now 15 years since 9/11, and I think it’s obvious that Muslim citizens in the U.S. and Muslim leaders abroad have an absolutely critical role to play in fighting jihadis and other Muslim extremists,” Abrams said. “This is partly a battle within Islam that they are going to have fight and win. Alienating these potential allies is the kind of foolish policy that the Obama administration has engaged in when it comes to Arab states that are our allies.”
Victoria Coates, who has been Cruz’s main adviser on national security since he came to the Senate, told me this tension on the policy team “is by design and not an accident.” She added: “Both Frank and Elliott are people I went out of my way to set up meetings with the Senator. He has met with both of them individually for years.”
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