Andrew C. McCarthy on Wartime Reading — and Leading, Pt. 1
The prosecutor speaks out on winning the War on Terror.


We suffer from willful blindness now more than ever. Former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy, who prosecuted the Blind Sheik, who masterminded the first attack on the World Trade Center, warned us of our error in his terror memoir by that name; as we continue our denial of the threat Americans face, McCarthy names names in his new book, The Grand Jihad, which debuted on the New York Times bestseller list this weekend. Andy, a fellow at the National Review Institute, talks with National Review Online’s Kathryn Lopez about President Obama at war, the future of Islam, the dangers of intramural rancor, and much more.

KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: What do health-care reform and “the Grand Jihad” have in common?

ANDREW C. McCARTHY: They both enjoy the support of Islam and the Left. Obviously, I need to explain a few things about that — brevity may be the soul of wit, but I’m learning it can be used against you. In this context, by “Islam,” I mean the Islamist movement — which, though very mainstream among the world’s Muslims, is by no means representative of all Muslims. By “the Left,” I mean the modern hard Left led by President Obama — I do not mean all people who would identify themselves as progressives or liberals. And when I say Islamists and leftists work together, I mean they have an alliance, not that they’ve merged. They’ve got some significant differences, but there are so many historical and present-day examples of collaboration, I’m surprised that there is any dispute about their alliance and their agreement on many big-picture issues.

LOPEZ: When you talk about transformation, do you find people are increasingly at a point where that resonates? Because that’s what they are watching the majority party in Washington trying to achieve?

McCARTHY: Well, it’s clearly more widely accepted now that when the president called for “fundamental change,” that was not just campaign rhetoric. He is a movement leftist. Campaign rhetoric, though, is now becoming policy, pinching pocketbooks and affecting security, so people are more aware that those of us who were so frightened by the prospect of an Obama presidency were not scaremongering. There’s real unease because, while Democrats are the majority party in the sense that they won the election and control Congress and the White House, the government is really being run by a faction of the hard Left that is not representative of majority sentiments. Obama is governing against the majority, and people feel helpless because, while they can discourage Democrats, they can’t really stop them from going down this road.

LOPEZ: How much worse has our willful blindness gotten since you wrote your book by that name?

McCARTHY: It’s worse. Unlike in the early stage of our encounter with Islamism’s civilizational jihad — and that’s their term for it, not something I dreamed up — we now know how serious they are. We’ve been profoundly harmed. Yet, rather than keep our guard up, we’re going back in the other direction, even though it always ends in catastrophe. We are aggressively miniaturizing the threat against us — just “violent extremists,” no connection to any ideology, no sense of how mainstream that ideology is in the Islamic community.