A former federal prosecutor closely associated with U.S. neoconservatism and Islamophobia, Andrew C. McCarthy is a political pundit who serves as co-chair of the Center for Law and Counterterrorism, a joint project of the National Review Institute and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
A frequent contributor to the right-wing National Review, McCarthy often focuses his invective on "Islamic supremacists" in the Middle East and the purported failure of liberals to confront jihadists. A case in point was his April 2012 National Review Online article "Obama Funds the Egyptian Government." Pointing to the decision by the Barack Obama administration to release financial aid to Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood fared well in early democratic elections, McCarthy ridiculed the administration—as well as other members of what he called the "useful-idiot brigade," such as Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham—for attempting to engage the Brotherhood.
In making his argument, McCarthy minimized differences between the Brotherhood and the Salafist movement. Referring to the Brotherhood's presidential candidate Khairat el-Shater, McCarthy wrote: "Shater is Washington's new darling. That much is clear from an unintentionally hilarious dispatch from the New York Times' David Kirkpatrick, who portrays the Brotherhood as America's 'indispensable ally against Egypt's ultraconservatives.' Sure, they may be the world's leading exemplar of what Kirkpatrick gently calls 'political Islam,' but our policy geniuses reckon the Brothers are much to be preferred over the 'Salafis'—reputedly, the more hardcore Islamic supremacists."
The Muslim Brotherhood has long been a key topic of McCarthy's writings. In a May 2010 article for the Washington Examiner, McCarthy argued that both the Brotherhood and Salafists reject western rationalism and the Christian unity of faith and reason, instead favoring Sharia determinism. "Both support the development of fundamentalist Muslim enclaves and the ultimate supplanting of American constitutional democracy by Islamic law. Nonterrorist Islamists want to overthrow the U.S. government every bit as much as the terrorists do. They are not moderates. Their differences with the terrorists are over means and methods, not goals."
Several months later, in August 2010, McCarthy posted an entry on the National Review blog "The Corner" under the headline "The President Stands with Sharia." The blog claimed that President Obama's defense of the "Ground Zero Mosque" revealed that he was "governing against the will of the American people," and that he had decided to support the Muslim Brotherhood instead of family members of the 9/11 attacks.
Motivating McCarthy's attacks is his clear aversion to the religion of Islam. As he wrote during the controversial June 2011 hearings held by Rep. Peter King (R-NY) on the purported radicalization of the Muslim-American community: "What 'radicalizes' Muslims is Islam—the mainstream interpretation of it. The 'radicals' propagating it do not need the 'captive audience' provided by the prison environment. The 'radicalization' is happening in plain sight."
Along with Frank Gaffney, James Woolsey and others, McCarthy helped form a "Team B" approach to reviewing U.S. policy on Sharia, which he said was modeled after the controversial advisory group formed by then-CIA director George H.W. Bush in 1976 to reevaluate the strategy of détente. In September 2010, the Center for Security Policy posted on its website their findings in a report entitled "Shariah: Threat to America," which was roundly criticized by experts on Islam for effectively promoting the criminalization of the practice of Islam in the United States. Among the report's coauthors were McCarthy, Gaffney, Woolsey, Henry Cooper (High Frontier), Brian Kennedy (Claremont Institute), Clara Lopez (International Intelligence Summit, Clarion Fund), J. Michael Waller (Institute of World Politics), and David Yerushalmi (SANE).
In addition to his diatribes on Islam, McCarthy has promoted a number of far-fetched conspiracy theories, particularly with respect to President Obama. For example, in 2008, he added his voice to a chorus of right-wing voices calling into question whether then-Sen. Barack Obama was born in the United States.
Since President Obama's election, McCarthy has argued that the president isa "bridge figure between the Left and the Islamists," that his relationship to the Muslim world is "cagey," and that he is not being forthcoming about his Muslim roots. He has also called Obama a radical leftist, arguing that he is "an Alinskyite," referring to Chicago-born community organizer Saul Alinsky, and a "fifth-column radical" who intends to overthrow the capitalist order.
Describing Obama's handling of foreign policy, McCarthy has argued: "Barack Obama is a wolf in 'pragmatist' clothing: Beneath the easy smile and above-it-all manner—the 'neutral' doing his best to weigh competing claims—is a radical leftist wedded to a Manichean vision that depicts American imperialism as the primary evil in the world."
Early Track Record
McCarthy worked as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York for 18 years. From 1993 through 1996, he helped lead the prosecution against the organization of Omar Abdel Rahman, which resulted in the conviction of a dozen people on charges related to terrorist plots, including the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and plots to bomb other landmarks. He also worked on the prosecutions of the bombers of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. Following the 9/11 attacks, he supervised the Justice Department's Command Post near Ground Zero in New York City.
In 2004, the George W. Bush administration tapped McCarthy to serve as a special assistant to the deputy secretary of defense.
McCarthy's views on legal justice have shifted over the years. Hehas criticized the military commissions system and private lawyers assisting detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. He called for creation of a national security court rather than trying terrorism suspects in the civilian justice system.
In addition to writing for the National Review, McCarthy is a frequent guest on conservative broadcast networks. He has also published several books, including The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America (Encounter Books, 2010); Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad (Encounter Books 2008), and How the Obama Administration Has Politicized Justice (Encounter's "Broadsides" series, 2010).
He has taught law at New York Law School and Fordham University's School of Law.