The South Carolina National Security Action Summit

From the Times and Democrat (South Carolina, emphases added):

Several potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates are expected in West Columbia this Saturday for the “S.C. National Security Action Summit.”

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and U.S. Ambassador John Bolton, who have all been mentioned as potential 2016 presidential candidates, will be in attendance.

…Others to participate in the public forum include Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, former commanding general of U.S. Army Special Forces and Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence; Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy.

…The summit is hosted by the conservative news website Breitbart News, the Center for Security Policy and High Frontier.

High Frontier has the partial line-up here, and Breitbart has some streams from the event which show that Newt Gingrich also took part; due to transport problems, Jindal sent a video message. I’ve browsed a few of the talks, there were few surprises, with speakers complaining about the Obama administration’s approach to “Global Jihad” and the need for Muslim leaders to speak out. Boykin warned that Obama should not be granted his request for AUMF (Authorization for Use of Military Force) against Islamic State, on the grounds that he doesn’t understand the situation, but he avoided the religious and rhetorical extravagances that have characterised some of his previous attacks on Obama and Islam.

The line-up was a mix of politicians, conservative activists (such Phyllis Schlafly and Anne Corcoran) and individuals with creditable claims to expertise in particular areas. The chair of High Frontier – which describes itself as “the nation’s leading non-government authorities on missile defense issues including missile defense, arms control, nuclear weapons, and strategic systems” – is Henry (Hank) F. Cooper, who has an impressive CV. Here’s an outline bio from the official website of the Missle Defense Agency of the US Department of Defense:

Ambassador Henry F. Cooper
Director, Strategic Defense Initiative Organization
July 10, 1990 – January 20, 1993

Ambassador Henry F. Cooper is [sic] the Director of the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization, Department of Defense, Washington, D.C. He was appointed to this position by President Bush on July 10, 1990, and is the first civilian Director.

…In November 1983, Ambassador Cooper was appointed by President Reagan to serve as the Assistant Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. In that capacity he was responsible for backstopping all bilateral negotiations with the Soviet Union related to strategic and theater nuclear matters and chaired the Assistant Secretary-level interagency group responsible for developing U.S. Space Arms Control policy options.

Cooper’s son Scott Cooper was also included on the line-up, although his claim to expertise is somewhat more of a stretch:

Scott was in the travel industry on 9/11/01, thus experienced first-hand the impact radical Islam has had on our country.  From 2006 – 2010, Scott’s experience in the banking industry, he witnessed heavy middle-eastern influence into our banking system. These two experiences caused him to begin studying the infiltration of the Muslim Brotherhood into our republic.

Other speakers who might be called “high-level” included George H. Baker, who previously “led the Defense Nuclear Agency’s EMP program, directed the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s assessment arm, and served as a member of the Congressional EMP Commission Staff”; Peter Huessy, “former National Defense University Foundation senior defense consultant”; Peter Vincent Pry, “Executive Director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and Director of the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum, both Congressional Advisory Boards”, who “served on the Congressional EMP Commission, the Congressional Strategic Posture Commission” (1); and Admiral Ace Lyons, who was formerly “Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Senior U.S. Military Representative to the United Ntions and Deputy Chief of Naval Operations.”

However, expertise on Islam was rather more problematic – Gaffney is himself a demagogue who has indulged conspiracy theories about Obama being a secret Muslim, and he was joined by John Guandolo, who I wouldn’t regard as a creditable figure (for reasons discussed here). There was also an obscure retired police officer named David Bores, who “has been diligently educating American’s in multiple venues about the threat of Islamic Law to our Constitutional Republic.”

UPDATE

(1) Pry’s associations look more marginal when examined close up; a 2011 Atlantic article explains:

EMPact America, the group that hosted [a] conference at Niagara Falls, has been on a lobbying blitz in recent weeks to pass the SHIELD Act. The bill, which is backed by the Congressional “EMP Caucus” (yes, such a thing exists) is intended to protect the electrical grid of the continental United States from the effects of an EMP attack. EMPact America even produces a weekly, hour-long radio show devoted entirely to the issue, with recent guests including former CIA Director James Woolsey and Congressman Trent Franks. What sort of response have these warnings gotten so far? In Washington’s nuclear arms control circles, where I’ve spent the past few months working as part of my research on the Iranian nuclear program, they’re not really taken seriously.

 

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