Since the inauguration of Donald Trump, the counterterrorism community has united in a cathartic, hundred-day communal hatefest against his chief counterterrorism adviser, Sebastian L. Gorka, Ph.D. It felt good. Gorka, a former Breitbart national security editor, is a remarkably friendless man among experts on terrorism and jihadism. I know no one in the field who considers him an authority on anything whatsoever, and until his appointment in January, most paid him the ultimate insult by not even bothering to ridicule his appearances on Fox News.
On Sunday the Washington Examiner reported that Gorka would soon leave the White House, where in the absence of a security clearance “Gorka’s only known duties,” as described by a source, “included speaking on television about counterterrorism, as well as ‘giving White House tours and peeling out in his Mustang.’”
One does not relinquish such a job lightly. (The New York Times has since reported that Gorka’s departure is “likely” in the coming weeks, citing two senior administration officials, though as of this writing there has been no public confirmation.) But Gorka’s past has not weathered the scrutiny of executive office well. He had a lingering criminal charge, since dismissed, for bringing a 9mm pistol to a TSA checkpoint at Washington Reagan National Airport. Another terrorism analyst, Michael S. Smith II, taped him making strange legal threats after Smith tweeted about him. His credentials tended to look less, not more impressive under examination. He speaks no Arabic. He stresses his military service, which lasted just a few years as a reservist, in an army intelligence unit in the United Kingdom with little or no connection to terrorism. He claims to have occupied the “Major General Matthew C. Horner Distinguished Chair of Military Theory at Marine Corps University,” when in fact he worked for the Marine Corps University Foundation, a private entity that sends lecturers to the Marine Corps University nearby. Scholars sniffed that his Ph.D., granted by Corvinus University in his ancestral nation of Hungary, didn’t meet basic standards of rigor.