President, Arab American Institute; author, 'Arab Voices'
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Ellison Challenges Bachmann: Put Up or Shut Up
Posted: 07/14/2012 11:05 am
A few weeks back, the sensation-seeking Representative Michele Bachmann did her best imitation of the late Senator Joseph McCarthy. She and four of her Congressional colleagues released letters they had collectively sent to the Inspectors General of the Departments of State, Justice, Defense, and Homeland Security, and the Office of the Directorate of National Intelligence calling on them to investigate whether "influence operations conducted by individuals and organizations associated with the Muslim Brotherhood" have "had an impact on the federal government's national security policies."
Warning of "determined efforts by the Muslim Brotherhood to penetrate and subvert the American government as part of its 'civilizational jihad'" the representatives wanted the Inspectors General to identify the Muslims who were influencing U.S. policy.
In making these charges, Bachmann and her cohorts were relying on the work of a Washington-based group the Center for Security Policy -- a notorious player in the anti-Muslim industry that has been working for several years to smear Muslim American groups. The head of the Center served as one of Bachmann's advisers during her ill-fated run for the presidency and the only source cited in the Congressional letters was the Center's "training program," "The Muslim Brotherhood in America: The Enemy Within."
The evidence the Representatives present to back up their ominous warnings is, at best, slight -- in some cases, creating a "straw man" out of a single reed of straw. For example, Representative Gohmert points accusingly to the fact that "this administration continues to bow down before groups associated with the goal of 'destroying Western civilization from within'" -- by which he means that the Administration apologized to Muslims in the Qur'an-burning incident in Afghanistan. This, he suggests, must be due to the administration's "continued meetings" with Muslim groups, which has blinded them to the threat these Muslims pose to our "ability to protect ourselves."
In other instances the evidence reads more like a "six degrees of separation game." Using this trick, Bachmann and the Center point accusing fingers at some Muslims who serve in the administration. Among those who were singled out by name is Huma Abedin, Deputy Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.
In the case of Abedin, the game goes from absurd, to downright bizarre. Her father and mother are Muslim and her father taught at a Muslim university in Saudi Arabia, and so they must be... (fill in the blank). In one article inspired by the Center's work that appeared in the Washington Times, a right-wing newspaper, questions are asked as to whether Abedin "had been groomed to access movers and shakers to advance the cause of Islam in America." The article goes on to question whether Abedin's marriage to a Jewish Member of Congress was but a clever ruse designed to further this "Islamist agenda." The evidence? Since Abedin is a Muslim why else would her family have approved of her marrying a non-Muslim? And, after all, she works for Clinton and Obama, who share, the article says, the "socialist agenda, which includes domination of the U.S. by a Muslim-ruled world!"
What is so intriguing about the conspiracy-minded is how their rhetorical charges and the gravity of the threat they see continues to grow each time they speak. Not to disappoint, Bachmann's paranoia gives evidence of this trait. In a recent interview in which she discussed her effort, she explained, "it appears that there has been deep penetration in the halls of our United States government by the Muslim Brotherhood... it appears that there are individuals associated with the Muslim Brotherhood who have very sensitive positions in our Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security... I am calling [for an investigation] to see who these people are and what access they have to our information."
As outrageous as all this behavior may be, the letters and the charges generated very little media attention, but that doesn't mean that they can be dismissed, for two main reasons: the five, though all a bit loony, hold positions of influence on key Congressional committees; and despite the fact that the source of the "evidence" cited in the Congressional letters is the pernicious Muslim-bashing Center for Security Policy "witch hunts," if left unchecked it can ruin lives and damage reputations.
Let's look first at the five Members of Congress who signed the letters: Representatives Bachmann, Tom Rooney, and Lynn Westmoreland all sit on the Select Committee on Intelligence, while Representatives Trent Franks and Louis Gohmert are members of the Judiciary Committee. With the exception of Bachmann, all hold leadership positions, either within their respective committees or in the House Republican caucus.
As an example of the potential this group might have to influence policy, this week the powerful Chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, Mike Rogers, speaking on a radio program hosted by the head of the Center, called Bachman's campaign to "root out" Muslims "very important" noting that she is "taking the lead" on this issue.
As was the case during the McCarthy era, "witch-hunts" have victims and not only in jobs lost and careers ruined. Equally troubling is the distress that campaigns of this sort can bring to those not named, but who live in fear that their religion or their ethnicity will be the reason that they will be held in suspicion, denied a position, or held back from advancement. And as I know from bitter personal experience, it can result in entire communities being shunned by officials who fear being attacked for associating with a group that has been smeared as "dangerous." Because there is a scarcity of courageous leaders in Washington, all too often the "witch hunts" will fester, taking a terrible toll before being challenged and defeated.
It is for this reason that I am so thankful that the wise voters of Minnesota's 5th Congressional District sent Keith Ellison to Congress. He is smart, picking his fights carefully. He is principled and courageous, venturing forth on matters that others tend to shy away from. And his wise counsel and thoughtful approach to issues has earned him the respect of his colleagues.
Ellison demonstrated his leadership this week when he directly challenged the sensation-seeking, Islamophobic Representative Michele Bachmann. In a stern letter to Bachmann and company, Ellison asks that she provide his "office with a full accounting of the sources you used to make the serious allegations against the individuals and organizations in your letters. If there is not credible, substantial evidence for your allegations, I sincerely hope you will publicly clear their names."
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Islamists the Islamists Within
Posted by Arnold Ahlert Bio ↓ on Jul 16th, 2012 Comments ↓
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U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and four other House colleagues are making things uncomfortable for an Obama administration that has a decided tolerance for Islamists. In doing so, Bachmann and company have raised two important questions. First, they want to know how Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s top aide, deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin, got security clearance, despite having relatives with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Second, they would like an investigation conducted regarding the “potential Muslim Brotherhood infiltration” of the Obama administration. For their efforts, they were challenged by Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN). Ms. Bachmann’s response, detailing her concerns and those of her colleagues, reveals the extent to which this administration has been tainted–or quite possibly corrupted–by Islamist influences.
The story begins on June 13, when Bachmann, and four other members of the House, Reps. Trent Franks (R-AZ), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Thomas Rooney (R-FL) and Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) sent five separate letters to five separate Inspectors General. The letters expressed concerns about Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the government in general, and Huma Abedin’s familial connections with the Muslim Brotherhood in particular.
Abedin’s associations are quite relevant. Last year, in an investigation initiated by Walid Phares, the names of 63 leaders who belonged to the Muslim Sisterhood, essentially a female version of the Muslim Brotherhood, were revealed. One of them turned out to be Ms. Abedin’s mother, Saleha. Another was Najla Ali Mahmoud, wife of Egypt’s recently-elected president, Mohamed Morsi. Both women are members of the group’s Guidance Bureau. Furthermore, Abedin’s brother, Hassan, has had relationships with terrorist Omar Naseef, founder of the Rabita Trust, which funded Islamic militants in Kashmir, as well as terrorist supporter and rabid anti-Semite Shiekh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi.
Based on familial associations alone, it does not appear unreasonable to wonder how Ms. Abedin could have the kind of security clearance that gives her unrestricted access to Secretary of State Clinton. But the story takes an even more curious turn, due to the fact that Ms. Abedin is married to former U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner, who was forced to resign in disgrace after he got caught in a sexting scandal last year. Phares asks why practicing Muslim Huma wasn’t disowned by her family for marrying a Jewish person — or why Huma hasn’t disavowed the views expressed by the Sisterhood. Phares expresses the possibility that Abedin is practicing Muruna, a technique of deception that allows Muslims to go to extreme lengths (even marrying a non-Muslim) to further the cause of Islam. Bachmann’s inquiry addressed Abedin’s relationships, her access to Clinton, and the State Department actions “that have been enormously favorable to the Muslim Brotherhood and its interests.”
Enter Congressman Ellison. On July 13th, he sent a letter to his five colleagues “to gather more information on the allegations you made” regarding Abedin, as well as those levied against “Brotherhood operatives” within the government, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) and Muslim Advocates. Ellison implies that the sole source of Bachmann’s allegations is the “MuslimBrotherhoodinAmerica.com, a Web site created by Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy (CSP).”
Ellison contends that Gaffney has been “widely discredited” and said he “has a long history of making unsubstantiated anti-Muslim allegations.” He finishes his letter with a request for “a full accounting of the sources you used to make the serious allegations against the individuals and organizations in your letters. If there is not credible, substantial evidence for your allegations, I sincerely hope that you will publically (sic) clear their names.”
Ms. Bachmann was more than happy to reply — and her 16-page letter containing 59 separate footnotes completely undercuts Ellison’s implication that Gaffney was her only source. “I do note that the facts we presented in the Inspector General request letters are based on information presented by U.S. Government officials in court documents, court evidence, correspondence and briefings with Congress and public statements, in addition to known media reporting,” Bachmann writes. “These letters were far from sole-sourced as you maintain in your letter.”
Bachmann then clarifies points she says “may be have been misunderstood or misrepresented.” With respect to Huma Abedin, she notes that she never accused Abedin of being a collaborator, but wonders “exactly how, given what we know from the international media about Ms. Abedin’s documented family connections with the extremist Muslim Brotherhood, she was able to avoid being disqualified for a security clearance.” Bachmann moves on to the Holy Land Foundation for Relief trials, which she pointed out was “the largest terrorist finance trial in history — that specifically identified these U.S.-based Muslim Brotherhood front organizations and their commitment to a published agenda to ‘destroying Western Civilization from within.’” She reminds Ellison that foundation members were convicted of funneling money to the terrorist group Hamas, and that both the Council on Islamic American Relations (CAIR) and ISNA were named “unindicted co-conspirators” in the case.
Further addressing each and every one of Ellson’s concerns individually, Bachmann goes on to explain that “attempts to obtain from the Department of Justice and the FBI all of the case evidence submitted in the Holy Land foundation case and provided to the defense in disclosure have been fruitless.” She goes on to reveal that since she and her colleagues sent their letters to the Inspectors General, “other shocking incidents have occurred.” These include the State Department violating anti-terror laws and giving a visa to Hani Nour Eldin, a newly elected member of the Egyptian parliament — who is also a member of a U.S.-designated terrorist organization. Hani, like Egyptian president Morsi, who himself is scheduled for a White House visit in September, petitioned for the release of terror mastermind Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman. Abdel-Rahman is serving a life sentence for his part in the World Trade Center bombing in 1993.
Bachmann also reveals that “despite statements backed up by considerable evidence in court raising concerns about many of the Muslim Brotherhood front groups,” various departments in the Obama administration continue to engage in “outreach” programs with these same organizations “as if the evidence…doesn’t exist.” Lastly, she reveals that, despite the FBI officially cutting ties with CAIR after the Holy Land trial, “the White House Director for Community Partnerships admitted that this administration has had ‘hundreds’ of meeting with CAIR” and that the White House “has worked to conceal these ties (in one case, with ISNA and MPAC).”
She then reminds Ellison of something that apparently eludes both he and several members of the Obama administration. “As members of Congress we are charged to see and hold accountable all government agencies–a charge given to us by the Constitution on behalf of the people of the United States. To do anything less is to subvert the oaths we took as members to protect the Constitution. For us to fail to demand action on the part of the Inspectors General is to fail to uphold the oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States.”
Americans familiar with the machinations of this administration and its media apparatchiks know where this is going, at least initially. Already an article in the Huffington Post by Arab American Institute president James Zogby describes Bachmann as doing her “best imitation of the late Senator Joseph McCarthy.” Zogby then praised Ellison for “his leadership this week when he directly challenged the sensation-seeking, Islamophobic Representative Michele Bachmann.”
Undoubtedly there will be others in both the media and the administration who will try to discredit Bachmann and her colleagues even as they deliberately ignore the evidence of her allegations. Add a thoroughly corrupted DOJ to the mix and the immediate future is clear: any genuine investigation will be stonewalled, even as Bachmann and her colleagues will be dismissed as bigots and conspiracy theorists. In other words, it’s business as usual for a see-no-Islamist-evil administration and its legions of useful idiot defenders.