John Glaser
May 09, 2014

A political sideshow to the escalating focus on the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram is what it means for Hillary Clinton’s presidential prospects. Boko Haram was not officially designated a terrorist group until Clinton stepped down and John Kerry became Secretary of State. This, Republicans tell us, reveals she is weak on terrorism and doesn’t have the leadership or foresight to keep the country safe as president.

To try and make a substantive political point on the basis of the farcical and arbitrary State Department terrorist list is laughable. The “official list” is so fickle and ludricous as to be useless in any serious political discussion except to demonstrate how illegitimate it is.

As I wrote last month:

The government puts individuals or groups on and takes them off according to its interests at the time: Nelson Mandela was on it before he became admired by the world as a man of peace, Saddam Hussein was on it until the U.S. decided it wanted to support him militarily against Iran in the 1980s, the Iranian group MEK was on it until 2012 when the U.S. decided having an Iranian dissident group off the terrorist list could be in its benefit, etc.

And of course, any militant groups that the U.S. wants to aid with money and weapons can’t be on the terrorist list, even if they conduct terrorist operations.

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