Click to view image: '05314a750fd6-obama.jpg'
The Obama administration has junked the term “global war on terror” because it does not describe properly the nature of the terrorist threat to the US, according to Janet Napolitano, secretary for homeland security.
“One of the reasons the nomenclature is not used is that ‘war’ carries with it a relationship to nation states in conflict with each other and of course terrorism is not necessarily derived from the nation state relationship,” she told the Financial Times. “In some respects ‘war’ is too limiting.”
Ms Napolitano’s comments were the clearest acknowledgement by an Obama official of a widely observed change in language. In March, the White House denied reports that an internal memo had been issued banning the term. But Mr Obama has studiously avoided the phrase, which officials see as legally troublesome and politically counterproductive.
Ms Napolitano, who arrived on Monday night in the UK, said she was hoping to learn from her British counterparts, and others, how to improve public “resiliency” to terrorist attacks. “You have got to minimise risk and respond with resiliency – there are lessons to be learned from other countries and the UK is one of them,” she said.
Ms Napolitano, the former governor of Arizona, is in charge of 22 former agencies that make up the Department of Homeland Security.
Her comments follow increasingly strident criticism from Dick Cheney, the former vice-president, that Mr Obama’s actions, including the pledge to close the Guantánamo Bay detention centre and dropping the term “war on terror”, would increase the terrorist threat to the US.
Ms Napolitano dismissed Mr Cheney’s warnings. “Pivoting from closing Guantánamo to the argument that [its closure] could be the causal agent for an attack on the US is, to be charitable, a stretch,” she said. But she conceded the administration needed to do more to persuade Congress to house Guantánamo detainees on US soil.
Ms Napolitano said she also continued to monitor the threat of domestic terrorism following a DHS report in March warning that the declining economy and the return of military veterans meant that there was an increasing threat of rightwing “lone wolf” terrorist activity.
“The fact of the matter is that this threat is very real and is not solely rightwing or leftwing,” she added.
By Edward Luce and Daniel Dombey in Washington
Click to view image: 'b9c81603b60e-ob.jpg'
|Liveleak on Facebook|