Sebastian Gorka made an odd analogy to defend the term 'radical Islamic terrorism'

  • White House aide Sebastian Gorka appeared on MSNBC Live to talk about counterterrorism.
  • Host Ali Veshi pressed Gorka on why the administration insists on referring to terror attacks as "radical Islamic terrorism."
  • Gorka suggested that doing otherwise would be like a doctor telling a cancer patient he or she had "the flu."

White House national-security aide Sebastian Gorka offered an unusual analogy to defend Trump's preference for referring to attacks by Islamist extremists as "radical Islamic terrorism" during an interview on MSNBC Tuesday, comparing the debate over terms to medical diagnoses.

MSNBC Live co-host Ali Veshi noted during an interview with Gorka that recent terrorist attacks in the West have had "little or no material or operational" connection to ISIS and cited some who have argued such attacks won't go away even with the demise of that terrorist group.

Asked about the reasoning behind the White House tactic of referring to "radical Islamic terrorism" when describing such attacks, Gorka said it would "jettison the political correctness of the last eight years," referring to the Obama administration's avoidance of that term in such cases.

After Gorka stressed the US's emphasis on working with foreign partners against terrorism, Velshi asked how using that term "helps stop the attacks in Paris or in Belgium."

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US led airstrikes on ISIS targets
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US led airstrikes on ISIS targets
Smoke rises after an U.S.-led air strike in the Syrian town of Kobani Ocotber 8, 2014. U.S.-led air strikes on Wednesday pushed Islamic State fighters back to the edges of the Syrian Kurdish border town of Kobani, which they had appeared set to seize after a three-week assault, local officials said. The town has become the focus of international attention since the Islamists' advance drove 180,000 of the area's mostly Kurdish inhabitants to flee into adjoining Turkey, which has infuriated its own restive Kurdish minority-- and its NATO partners in Washington -- by refusing to intervene. REUTERS/Umit Bektas (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CONFLICT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Pictures showing an ISIL Command and Control Center in Syria before (L) and after it was struck by bombs dropped by a U.S. F-22 fighter jet are seen in handouts released by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) September 23, 2014. This was the first time the F22 was used in a combat role according to the DOD. The United States and its Arab allies bombed Syria for the first time on Tuesday, killing scores of Islamic State fighters and members of a separate al Qaeda-linked group, opening a new front against militants by joining Syria's three-year-old civil war. REUTERS/US Department of Defense/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: MILITARY CONFLICT) THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
In this photograph taken on April 11, 2017, smoke rises after an air strike by US aircraft on positions during an ongoing an operation against Islamic State (IS) militants in the Achin district of Afghanistan's Nangarhar province. An American special forces soldier has been killed while conducting operations against the Islamic State group in Afghanistan, the US military said.�The US-backed Afghan military has vowed to wipe out the group in its strongholds in the eastern province of Nangarhar as IS challenges the more powerful Taliban on its own turf. / AFP PHOTO / NOORULLAH SHIRZADA (Photo credit should read NOORULLAH SHIRZADA/AFP/Getty Images)
A still image captured from U.S. Navy video footage shows a Tomahawk Land-Attack Missile (TLAM) is launched against ISIL targets from the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea in the Gulf, September 23, 2014. The United States and Arab allies hit Islamic State (IS) targets including training camps, headquarters and weapon supplies in northern and eastern Syria in dozens of air and missile strikes on Tuesday, the U.S. military and a monitoring group said. REUTERS/Abe McNatt/U.S. Navy/Handout (MID-SEA - Tags: MILITARY CIVIL UNREST POLITICS) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Smoke rises after an air strike on Islamic State (IS) militants positions during an ongoing operation against the group in the Achin district of Afghanistan's Nangarhar province on April 14, 2017, a day after the US military struck the district with its largest non-nuclear bomb. The US military's largest non-nuclear bomb killed dozens of Islamic State militants as it smashed their mountain hideouts, Afghan officials said April 14, ruling out any civilian casualties despite the weapon's destructive capacity. The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb -- dubbed the 'Mother Of All Bombs' -- hit IS positions in Achin district in eastern Nangarhar province on April 13. / AFP PHOTO / NOORULLAH SHIRZADA (Photo credit should read NOORULLAH SHIRZADA/AFP/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - NOVEMBER 7: Smoke rises from Daesh terrorists positions after U.S.-led coalition's airstrike over east of Bashiqa town in Mosul, Iraq on November 7, 2016. Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government's peshmerga forces entered Bashiqa Town center as the operation to retake Iraq's Mosul from Daesh terrorists continues, in Mosul. A much anticipated Mosul offensive to liberate the city from Daesh began midnight of 16th of October 2016. (Photo by Hemn Baban/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Photo taken on 30 January 2017 in Mosul, Iraq. Destroyed hospital. Saalam hospital was targeted by a U.S. Coalition airstrike in December, 2016 as it was a base for Islamic State commanders. 16th Division command and control the east side of the city. The soldiers are engaged in the search for militants ISIS. The army protects the eastern bank of the Tigris. Soldiers take up positions on the roofs of buildings of which observe areas next to the river. (Photo by Maciej Moskwa/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - NOVEMBER 7: Smoke rises from Daesh terrorists positions after U.S.-led coalition's airstrike over east of Bashiqa town in Mosul, Iraq on November 7, 2016. Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government's peshmerga forces entered Bashiqa Town center as the operation to retake Iraq's Mosul from Daesh terrorists continues, in Mosul. A much anticipated Mosul offensive to liberate the city from Daesh began midnight of 16th of October 2016. (Photo by Yunus Keles/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Members of Iraq's elite counter-terrorism service patrol as smoke billows in the background following a reported air strike by the US-led coalition on December 29, 2015 on the outskirts of Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's Anbar province, about 110 kilometers west of Baghdad, after Iraqi forces recaptured it from the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group. Iraq declared the city of Ramadi liberated from the Islamic State group Monday and raised the national flag over its government complex after clinching a landmark victory against the jihadists. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
ALEPPO, SYRIA - DECEMBER 03: Smoke rises after the US-led coalition airstrikes' hits DAESH positions at Brekida village in Aleppo, Syria on December 03, 2015. (Photo by Huseyin Nasir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers on November 14, 2015 in Sinjar, Iraq. Kurdish forces, with the aid of months of U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, liberated the town from ISIL extremists, known in Arabic as Daesh, in recent days. Although the battle was deemed a major victory, much of the city lay in complete ruins. (Photo by Andrea DiCenzo/NurPhoto) (Photo by Andrea DiCenzo/NurPhoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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"If you have, so if you, god forbid, caught cancer, and the hospital was forbidden from calling it cancer and said, 'you have the flu. Go home and hydrate and take some aspirins,' would you actually have the right treatment?" Gorka responded.

"No, but there's still no cure for cancer," co-host Stephanie Ruhle said.

"Sorry, but ... have you not heard of chemo?" Gorka replied.

"I have heard of chemo," Ruhle said, "and cancer can still kill you. So it doesn't matter what you call it."

"It doesn't matter what you call it? Really?" Gorka said. "So if I called it the flu and say, 'go home and take some aspirin,' what's going to happen to you, Stephanie?"

"There must be ... a better response to that," Velshi said. "I asked you a very straightforward question ..."

"And I gave you a very simple answer," Gorka responded. "If you misdiagnose, if you misdiagnose anything, whether it's a serious disease or a international geopolitical threat, you will never solve it. For the last eight years we had an administration that said, 'oh, it's economics. Oh, these people are disenfranchised.' No, it's not about economics. It's not about being disenfranchised. It's about people who have an ideology that is evil and has to be destroyed."

Velshi then steered the conversation back to his original question, asking how the Trump administration planned to stop "lone-wolf" attacks conducted by individuals inspired by, rather than operating with, groups like ISIS.

"There's no such thing as a lone wolf. You do know that?" Gorka answered. "That was a phrase invented by the last administration to make Americans stupid. There has never been — never been — a serious attack ... or a serious plot that was unconnected from ISIS or Al Qaeda, at least through the ideology and the TTPs — the tactics, the training, the techniques, and the procedures — that they supply through the internet. Never happened. It's bogus."

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The Islamic State's preferred weapons of war
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The Islamic State's preferred weapons of war
Vehicles used for suicide car bombings, made by Islamic State militants, are seen at Federal Police Headquarters after being confiscated in Mosul, Iraq July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A tank gun hidden inside a truck, made by Islamic State militants, to avoid attack from planes are seen at Federal Police Headquarters after being confiscated in Mosul, Iraq July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
A tank gun hidden inside a truck, made by Islamic State militants, to avoid attack from planes are seen at Federal Police Headquarters after being confiscated in Mosul, Iraq July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
A tank gun hidden inside a truck, made by Islamic State militants, to avoid attack from planes are seen at Federal Police Headquarters after being confiscated in Mosul, Iraq July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Vehicles used for suicide car bombings, made by Islamic State militants, are seen at Federal Police Headquarters after being confiscated in Mosul, Iraq July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
Vehicles used for suicide car bombings, made by Islamic State militants, are seen at Federal Police Headquarters after being confiscated in Mosul, Iraq July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
Vehicles used for suicide car bombings, made by Islamic State militants, are seen at Federal Police Headquarters after being confiscated in Mosul, Iraq July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
A tank inside a truck, made by Islamic State militants, to avoid attack of the plane is seen at Federal Police Headquarters after being confiscated in Mosul, Iraq July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
Vehicles used for suicide car bombings, made by Islamic State militants, are seen at Federal Police Headquarters after being confiscated in Mosul, Iraq July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
Vehicles used for suicide car bombings, made by Islamic State militants, are seen at Federal Police Headquarters after being confiscated in Mosul, Iraq July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
Vehicles used for suicide car bombings, made by Islamic State militants, are seen at Federal Police Headquarters after being confiscated in Mosul, Iraq July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
Vehicles used for suicide car bombings, made by Islamic State militants, are seen at Federal Police Headquarters after being confiscated in Mosul, Iraq July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
A vehicle used for suicide car bombings, made by Islamic State militants, is seen at Federal Police Headquarters after being confiscated in Mosul, Iraq July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
Vehicles used for suicide car bombings, made by Islamic State militants, are seen at Federal Police Headquarters after being confiscated in Mosul, Iraq July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
Vehicles used for suicide car bombings, made by Islamic State militants, are seen at Federal Police Headquarters after being confiscated in Mosul, Iraq July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
Vehicles used for suicide car bombings, made by Islamic State militants, are seen at Federal Police Headquarters after being confiscated in Mosul, Iraq July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
Vehicles used for suicide car bombings, made by Islamic State militants, are seen at Federal Police Headquarters after being confiscated in Mosul, Iraq July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
Vehicles used for suicide car bombings, made by Islamic State militants, are seen at Federal Police Headquarters after being confiscated in Mosul, Iraq July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
A member of Federal Police inspects vehicles used for suicide car bombings, made by Islamic State militants, at Federal Police Headquarters after being confiscated in Mosul, Iraq July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
A member of Federal Police walks near vehicles used for suicide car bombings, made by Islamic State militants, at Federal Police Headquarters after being confiscated in Mosul, Iraq July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
Vehicles used for suicide car bombings, made by Islamic State militants, are seen at Federal Police Headquarters after being confiscated in Mosul, Iraq July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
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It's not clear how sweeping Gorka meant to be with that assertion. Other attacks that have targeted US citizens, like the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City or the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Scotland, were not carried out by those groups. Other analyses have found that domestic right-wing terrorism acts have been more common than acts of Islamist terrorism.

Gorka promised that ISIS "will be annihilated," echoing rhetoric that senior military officials have used to describe the campaign against the terrorist group, and said it was also necessary to work with Muslim partners to "delegitimize the ideology" in order to achieve a final victory against such groups.

The US-led coalition against ISIS has been fighting the group in Iraq and Syria since summer 2014, not long after Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared ISIS' "caliphate" from a mosque in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq.

The amount of territory recaptured from the group has accelerated during the first six months of the Trump administration, Brett McGurk, the State Department's senior envoy to the coalition, said this month, attributing the gains to Trump's policies.

Evidence suggests that the stepped-up campaign against the group has led to a significant increase in the number of civilian casualties in Iraq and Syria — 12 or more daily every day between Trump's inauguration and July 13, according to Airwars, an independent observer group.

Watch the full exchange below:

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