Better never than late?

President Obama is taking additional measures to combat Islamist terrorism, without of course calling it that.

First, the White House has announced the creation of a task force charged with “Countering Violent Extremism” in the United States.  The group is to headed by the departments of Homeland Security and Justice and will include representatives from 11 departments and agencies. The announcement describes the functions of the task force as to “integrate and harmonize” the US government’s counter-terrorism efforts, but given the extensive coordination which already exists within the government it is not clear what the group’s value-added will be.

Second, the State Department is to have a new leader at the Global Engagement Centre which is tasked with creating and disseminating “anti-extremist messages to foreign adversaries”. The individual nominated to head the Center — which reportedly has had three leaders in little over a year — is Michael Lumpkin, currently assistant secretary of defence for special operations and low-intensity warfare (SO/LIC). It appears, however, that the administration wishes to avoid the Senate confirmation process required for Lumpkin’s appointment. As a consequence, his current deputy Theresa Whalen is expected to head the Center ad interim perhaps until next year.

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