The Washington Post reports: On the night of President Trump’s inauguration, Sebastian Gorka attended the celebratory balls in a high-necked, black Hungarian jacket. Pinned on his chest was a Hungarian coat of arms, a tribute to his father who had been tortured by the communists, and a civilian commendation from the U.S. military.
For years, Gorka had labored on the fringes of Washington and the far edge of acceptable debate as defined by the city’s Republican and Democratic foreign policy elite. Today, the former national security editor for the conservative Breitbart News outlet occupies a senior job in the White House and his controversial ideas — especially about Islam — drive Trump’s populist approach to counterterrorism and national security.
Amid the cheering, music and confetti that night, Gorka talked about Trump’s opening shot in a high-stakes civilizational war, still in its early days.
“Everything’s changed,” Gorka said.
He homed in on three words from Trump’s dystopian inaugural address that day: “Radical Islamic terrorism.”
“When he used those three words today — radical Islamic terrorism — he put the marker down for the whole national security establishment,” Gorka told an interviewer from Fox News.
For Gorka and his allies, the words are more than just a description of the enemy. They signal a radical break with the approach that Republicans and Democrats have taken over the past 16 years to counterterrorism and the Muslim world.
Only days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, President George W. Bush insisted the terror strikes had “violated the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith.”
“Islam is peace,” he told a nation still reeling from grief.
President Barack Obama sounded the same theme routinely during two terms in office.
Gorka has relentlessly championed the opposite view.
For him, the terrorism problem has nothing to do with repression, alienation, torture, tribalism, poverty, or America’s foreign policy blunders and a messy and complex Middle East. [Continue reading…]
Politico reports: Several experts interviewed by POLITICO puzzled over the gap between the numerous military academic credentials listed by Gorka — a political science Ph.D. who unfailingly uses the title “Dr.” — and their unfamiliarity with his work and views.
“When I first encountered his name during the transition, I did a triple-take. I’ve been in counterterrorism since 1998, and I thought I knew everyone. But I’d never heard his name and couldn’t recall anything he’d written or said,” said Daniel Benjamin, who served as counterterrorism coordinator under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Retired Col. Peter Mansoor, a former top aide to Gen. David Petraeus in Iraq who helped rewrite the Army’s counterinsurgency manual, also said he’s never crossed paths with Gorka. “What I’ve heard has not been complimentary,” added Mansoor, who now teaches at Ohio State University and remains active in military circles. [Continue reading…]
The New York Times reports: has appeared in a number of television and radio interviews as a representative of the Trump administration and a member of a White House team called the Strategic Initiatives Group. The Daily Beast called it a think tank within the White House that was set up by Mr. Bannon and the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner.
The group’s formation raised red flags, said Julianne Smith, a former deputy national security adviser to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the director of strategy and statecraft at the Center for a New American Security.
The National Security Council has traditionally played a decisive role in foreign policy decisions, she said. “Now we have the Strategic Initiatives Group and the National Security Council both working on issues of national security and strategy. So my question on Sebastian, ultimately, is: Who is he reporting to? Is he reporting to the National Security Council? Or is this a direct line to Bannon?” [The Washington Post article cited above says he reports to Bannon.] [Continue reading…]
Like most self-described “experts” on jihad, Gorka has never spoken to a jihadist: