Comedian and CBS Late Show television host David Letterman has been named by the enemy for assassination—and the United States government essentially has nothing to say, let alone do, about it.

This week, a private intelligence organization that monitors jihadist activity online identified Mr. Letterman, an American who has been outspoken in denouncing Islamic attacks on America, as an enemy target. An Associated Press (AP) report indicated that the threat was made on a popular Internet destination for jihadist Moslems by a jihadist reacting to what he said Letterman did after the U.S. military announced in June that a strike in Pakistan had killed an Al Qaeda terrorist leader. The jihadist reportedly urged an Islamic terrorist to cut Mr. Letterman’s tongue “and shut it forever[.]” The private firm, part of the Site Intelligence Group, told AP that the forum is frequently used by Al Qaeda.

The Obama administration is silent on the threat. Only the New York office of the FBI issued a statement and it minimized the threat against Mr. Letterman, stating that all threats are taken seriously. This response is a disgrace to the nation. The U.S. administration should vow to wipe out any person, group, and sponsors that plot to kill the comedian, who is among the first renowned, non-military U.S. citizens to be named by jihadists for extermination. Given the Obama administration’s weak, appeasing response, Mr. Letterman, an Indianapolis, Indiana, native and protege of the late Johnny Carson, is not likely to be the last, and the effect is devastating: anyone who mocks or denounces jihadism may be threatened by the enemy and the American government will say or do nothing about it. On the contrary, throughout Obama’s presidency, he has sought to appease Islamic terrorists and their sponsors, celebrating Moslem rituals in the White House and having his administration target and denounce a Florida preacher who planned to burn the Koran—an outrageous and unprecedented act of censorship and vicious assault by the state on an individual’s right to free speech.

Obama has a predecessor in his administration’s turning of the other cheek to a jihadist death threat. As Leonard Peikoff observed years ago, President George H.W. Bush all but ignored Iran’s call to murder British author Salman Rushdie and his U.S. publishers on the grounds of blasphemy for Mr. Rushdie’s book The Satanic Verses, a total abdication of the President’s moral duty as commander-in-chief to defend U.S. citizens and businesses. Last year, jihadists threatened the creators of South Park for a depiction of the Islamic prophet Mohammed and writer and filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered in Amsterdam in 2004 by a Dutch Moslem angered by his film Submission, a story of abused Islamic women, so, the death threat against David Letterman is a significant escalation of the jihadists’ war against America and the West. The Obama administration’s passive response to the threat is a serious dereliction of its duty to defend America and Americans.

The FBI investigates crimes. But Al Qaeda’s threat is not merely a crime; it is also an avowed act of war. As Dr. Peikoff—the lone voice of reason in America on the fatwa against Salman Rushdie—wrote in 1989: “Force is the only language intelligible to those who live by force.” President Obama should declare that the U.S. government will actively protect and defend David Letterman and retaliate with military action against any states connected, through harboring, training, or sponsorship, to an assassination plot. The Obama administration has done more to protect the Koran than it has to protect an American threatened with death by Al Qaeda. It is time for Obama to put defending an American life first and cease appeasing jihadist Islam.