Earlier this week, a media firestorm erupted around a Heritage Foundation panel about the 2012 Benghazi attack, which featured a number of anti-Muslim activists including ACT! for America’s Brigitte Gabriel and Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy.
Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank attended the event, and wrote about an ugly exchange in which a Muslim woman in the audience asked a question about Muslim representation at the event, and was met with a tirade from Gabriel, who told her that the “peaceful majority” of Muslims was “irrelevant,” made a comparison to Nazi Germany, and demanded to know if the woman was an American.
Milbank’s column, in turn, caused outrage from the conservative media and from Politico, who claimed that he misrepresented the event, although, as Milbank later pointed out, his critics were not actually there to see Gabriel’s diatribe and the enthusiastic response of the Heritage crowd.
Now, Gabriel is responding to criticism of her remarks in trademark fashion, by attempting to smear the woman who asked her the question.
In a fundraising email yesterday, Gabriel claimed that she had found “additional information” about the woman that “begins to bring into more focus the possible real reason for her ‘question’ at Monday’s event.” Gabriel breathlessly reports that the woman, Saba Ahmed, has been active in politics before (not a huge surprise for someone attending a panel event in Washington). She then tries to link Ahmed to an attempted terror plot in Portland (Ahmed was a family friend of the suspect, and has not in any way been implicated in it). And to top it all off, Gabriel reports that Ahmed was once arrested for something completely unrelated.
This line of attack should not come as a huge surprise from someone who has used similarly tenuous connections to claim that former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin was a Muslim Brotherhood agent, an accusation that Gaffney repeated at the panel.
Gabriel concludes her email by repeating her remark from the panel that “it is time we take political correctness and throw it in the garbage” and asking for money from her supporters.
Although the only focus of Monday’s Heritage event was getting to the bottom of the Benghazi attack and holding those responsible accountable for their actions (or lack of action), my panel was asked a rather unusual question by a woman in the audience, Saba ‘Queen’ Ahmed – a woman portraying herself as a young Muslim student concerned about the discrimination of Muslims.
Ms. Ahmed has been described by many in the media as a “young Muslim law student.” However as is so often the case, there is just a little more to the story.
The additional information we found about Ms. Ahmed begins to bring into more focus the possible real reason for her “question” at Monday’s event – and a possible explanation about why she attended the discussion and left immediately after her question and our exchange:
- She is CEO/President of Saba Ahmed, LLC a Washington, DC, lobbying firm.
- She is the friend of the family of Mohamed Osman Mohamud, the Somali-American accused of attempting to bomb a Portland Christmas tree lighting ceremony in 2010. (In fact, here is a photo of her leaving his court proceedings!)
- She is a former candidate for U.S. Congress. (Right: Image from her campaign website)
- She has been active in Democratic politics as well as with the radical “Occupy” movement.
- She was an assistant of former Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski and also for U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).
- She was arrested for a “stalking incident” in Florida.
I am glad that I had the opportunity to address Ms. Ahmed’s comments directly and respectfully – even though they had nothing to do with the issue of the event. It was an important educational moment.
I stand by how I closed my remarks on Monday:
It is time we take political correctness and throw it in the garbage where it belongs, and start calling a spade a spade.
I have received letters and e-mails from all over the country in support of my response to Ms. Ahmed. I am humbled by, and appreciative of, this support and encouragement. And I want you to know that I intend to continue standing up to individuals like this who seek only to misrepresent the truth and who use the liberal media to spread falsehoods about the Islamist threat that surrounds us.
h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW
The Benghazi Accountability Coalition is nothing more than repackaged far-right mental cases who hate anyone and everyone who doesn’t think like them. But instead of plotting their 30-front war in email and relying on ‘messaging’, they’re going all out to ramp up the hate and fear, led by Frank Gaffney and his sidekick Brigitte Gabriel.
Yes, the Heritage Benghazi Coalition encounter was just as bad as Dana Milbank said it was. All of the apologists out trying to rehabilitate this hateful event while the Erick Ericksons of the world do a dance around whether they were actually affiliated or just provided space are ridiculous. Of course it was hateful, and of course Heritage Foundation was far more than simply a “host.”
So who is this Benghazi Accountability Coalition, anyway?
The Benghazi Accountability Coalition is a recycled version of the Groundswell “messagers,” except this time it appears they have some funding or other support lacking the first time around.
On their website, they list the following people as “leaders.” Those in bold were among those who were plotting a year ago to make Benghazi an impeachable event.
A coalition of Islamophobes, birthers, and conspiracy theorists led by a prominent supporter of impeaching President Obama will assemble at the Heritage Foundation this afternoon to discuss the September 2012 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya.
The event, titled “Benghazi: The Difference It Makes Is Accountability!” will be co-hosted by the Benghazi Accountability Coalition. In a post at National Review Online, Andrew McCarthy, a conservative commentator and former federal prosecutor, identifies himself as the chairman of that new “volunteer organization.”
McCarthy is the author of a new book that seeks to build ”the political case” for President Obama’s impeachment. The book includes a draft Articles of Impeachment detailing “The Benghazi Fraud.” According to McCarthy, the talking points used by former Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice to discuss the terrorist attacks on Sunday morning political talk shows constituted a deliberate effort “to defraud the American people in connection with matters of great public importance, in violation of [President Obama’s] duty to execute the laws faithfully and his fiduciary duty to be truthful in his statements to the American people.”
At National Review Online, McCarthy promises that today’s forum will “feature some speakers with tremendous insights into the relevant issues about the Benghazi Massacre.” James Jay Carafano, Heritage’s vice present of Foreign and Defense Policy Studies, will participate, lending the organization’s imprimatur to the proceedings. Here are some of those notables who will appear alongside him:
- Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy, who is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “the anti-Muslim movement’s most paranoid propagandist.” Gaffney was banned from participating at the Conservative Political Action Conference after accusing prominent conservative activist Grover Norquist and former Bush aide Suhail Khan of being Muslim Brotherhood operatives. In October 2008 he claimed that Obama’s eligibility to be president was “unresolved,” citing “evidence Mr. Obama was born in Kenya rather than, as he claims, Hawaii.”
- Lt. General Thomas G. McInerney, USAF (Ret.), a Fox News military analyst who submitted court documents challenging Obama’s eligibility to be president based on the conspiracy theory that he was not born in the United States.
- Lt. General W.G. “Jerry” Boykin, USA (Ret.), who was criticized by President Bush and the Defense Department for portraying the fight against Islamic extremists as a religious war between a “Christian nation” and the “idol” of Islam. He has also termed Islam “evil” and a “totalitarian way of life.”
- Clare Lopez, who is a prominent member of Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy and the similarly anti-Muslim Clarion Project. Lopez has claimed that the Muslim Brotherhood has “infiltrated and suborned the U.S. government to actively assist… the mission of its grand jihad.” Earlier this month, Fox News contributor Allen West reported that Lopez had emailed him a “very poignant analysis” of Bob Bergdahl’s use of Arabic during a White House event with President Obama to announce the return of his son, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl: according to Lopez, “by uttering these words on the grounds of the WH, Bergdahl (the father) sanctified the WH and claimed it for Islam.”
- Brigitte Gabriel, the founder and CEO of the anti-Islam group ACT! for America, was described by The New York Times as “one of the most visible personalities on a circuit of self-appointed terrorism detectors who warn that Muslims pose an enormous danger within United States borders” who “presents a portrait of Islam so thoroughly bent on destruction and domination that it is unrecognizable to those who study or practice the religion.”
- Chris Plante, who is a right-wing talk radio host on Washington, DC’s WMAL. Last year he generated the false accusation that President Obama omitted the words “under God” from his recitation of the Gettysburg Address and suggested that the president would not have cut the words “under Allah” if they had appeared in the speech.
- Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing, married Republican activist law partners who have spent decades pushing smears of Democrats in the press. They played a key role in pushing debunked claims that the Obama administration was threatening Benghazi “whistleblowers.”
h/t: Matt Gertz at MMFA
California Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly’s Facebook post highlights a story by an author who has been called “the anti-Muslim movement’s most paranoid propagandist” and claims Republican Neel Kashkari “supported the United States submitting to the Islamic, Shariah banking code in 2008 when he ran TARP.”
The Washington Times 2008 story posted on Donnelly’s Facebook page is written by conservative Frank J. Gaffney,whom the Southern Poverty Law Center has profiled as a virulent anti-Muslim who “has suggested that President Obama is a practicing Muslim.”
The posting is just the latest evidence of an increasingly nasty campaign between two GOP gubernatorial candidates — Donnelly, the Tea Party darling and assemblyman from San Bernardino County, and Kashkari, the former deputy U.S. Treasury Secretary who administered the Troubled Asset Relief Program under the Bush and Obama administrations.
Kashkari, the son of Indian American immigrants, is Hindu — not Muslim.
From the Gaffney story:
“Thanks to the extraordinary authority conferred on Treasury since September, backed by the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the department is now in a position to impose its embrace of Shariah on the U.S. financial sector. The nationalization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Treasury’s purchase of – at last count – 17 banks and the ability to provide, or withhold, funds from its new slush-fund can translate into unprecedented coercive power.
Concerns in this regard are only heightened by the prominent role Assistant Treasury Secretary Neel Kashkari will be playing in “Islamic Finance 101.” Mr. Kashkari, the official charged with administering the TARP fund, will provide welcoming remarks to participants. Presumably, in the process, he will convey the enthusiasm about Shariah-Compliant Finance that appears to be the current party line at Treasury.
Donnelly, on his Facebook page, writes:
“Shariah is “the seditious religio-political-legal code authoritative Islam seeks to impose worldwide under a global theocracy.”
He adds: “This revelation is spreading fast, as people like Anita Gunn refer to Mr. Kashkari’s support of Shariah an ‘October Surprise.’ ”
Aaron McLear, a spokesman and strategist for Kashkari, said the submission by Gaffney on Donnelly’s page, along with what he characterized as the assemblyman’s past “vigilante” remarks about Mexicans, should raise concern among June primary voters about the effects of a Donnelly candidacy on Republicans nationwide.
He said the story cited is wrong. “The U.S. Treasury Department regularly invites delegates from around the world to Washington to advocate for free market principles,” McLear said. “The conference on Islamic finance was designed to explore how free market principles could work in Islamic countries. It had nothing to do with changing America’s legal or financial systems.”
Rep. Lou Barletta Says There's 'Nothing More Dangerous' Than Immigration Reform, Ties It To 9/11 | Right Wing Watch
Every year, the anti-immigrant group FAIR holds an event called “Hold Their Feet To The Fire,” which invites radio hosts to broacast from Washington, DC, and interview lawmakers and conservative activists.
This year, Rep. Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania, one of the staunchest anti-immigrant members of the House, showed up on FAIR’s radio row to call president Obama a dictator, associate undocumented immigrants with the 9/11 terrorists, and declare that “there may not be anything more dangerous” than comprehensive immigration reform.
Barletta told Secure Freedom Radio’s Frank Gaffney that President Obama has put us “on a road to where we’re now electing a dictator.” He took particular exception to the president’s support of immigration reform: “There may not be anything more dangerous than what he’s doing, to give amnesty to millions of people. “
Gaffney: To the extent that the president is, at best, selectively enforcing the law and in some cases rewriting the law or ignoring it altogether, do you agree with those who describe this as a constitutional crisis?
Barletta: Oh, there’s no question about it. This has been a slippery slope that this administration has taken, that the president has taken, walking over the Constitution and taking us down a path that, quite frankly, I don’t know if we’ve ever been this far down a road before, on a road to where we’re now electing a dictator who will try to pick and choose what laws and challenging Congress to try to stop me.
And there may not be anything more dangerous than what he’s doing, to give amnesty to millions of people. We know for a fact that there are people who have come here illegally who want to harm America.
From the 04.09.2014 edition of Center For Security Policies’ Secure Freedom Radio:
In an interview with Florida radio host Joyce Kaufman, who came under fire for anti-immigrant extremism when she was briefly the chief of staff to Rep. Allen West, Barletta compared the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the country to the 9/11 terrorists.
Referring to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s comment that many undocumented immigrants come to the US as an “act of love” for their families, Barletta said, “You know, sometimes we need to remind everyone about September 11. The pilots of those planes, it was an act of love to a different God that took American lives. And not everyone who is here illegally is all here for an act of love for their families.”
Kaufman agreed, adding that the Boston Marathon bombing – perpetrated by legal immigrants – was “another act of love.”
From the 04.09.2014 edition of WFTL’s The Joyce Kaufman Show:
h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW
Fox News has repeatedly hosted members of the fringe group Clarion Project, an anti-Muslim organization known for spreading Islamophobic fears, to discuss serious national security matters.
On February 20, Fox News hosted Ryan Mauro, a national security analyst from the Clarion Project, also known as the Clarion Fund, to discuss possible security threats on airlines. Mauro has recently appeared on Fox several times where he has argued that 'Muslim patrols' were a growing security concern for the United States, discussed the possibility of an anti-American alliance in the Middle East with Syrian Jihadists, and hyped fears that Somali refugees in the United States were becoming'homegrown' terrorists.
But Mauro and other Clarion Project members are not credible sources to discuss issues such as these given their virulent history of Islamophobia. Clarion Project has been widely criticized for producing and spreading Islamophobic material including the movie, Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West,a film that depicted Muslims as terrorists seeking world conquest. Think Progress reported that this was only the first installment of “Clarion’s ongoing production of Islamophobic films.”
Mauro himself has penned numerous pieces for the anti-Islam blog Islamist Watch where he has tracked his progress in identifying “Muslim enclaves” in the United States that he says will become “‘no-go zones’ where governments admit to having little authority over Muslims living there.”
Other board members from the Clarion Project who have also made their way onto Fox include Frank Gaffney, one of America’s most notorious Islamophobes and Fox’s go-to anti-Muslim activist, Zuhdi Jasser. Gaffney has used funding for his Center for Security Policy to produce reports promoting the baseless myth that Muslims are conspiring to implement Sharia law in the United States.
Earlier this year, Sandy Rios claimed that women in combat positions and the “homosexual takeover” of the military have destroyed the military’s effectiveness. Therefore it was no surprise when her Veterans Day guest Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy made a similar statement, arguing that gay and female service members have jeopardized the country’s security and the strength of the military. Gaffney also repeated the false claim that the military is now persecuting Christians and turning the practice of one’s faith into “a career-threatening activity.”
“God help us if we have to go to war again,” Gaffney told Rios, “especially if we invite war by this kind of behavior and weakness as we have in the past.”
From the 11.11.2013 edition of AFR’s Sandy Rios In The Morning:
h/t: Right Wing Watch
Believing they are losing the messaging war with progressives, a group of prominent conservatives in Washington—including the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and journalists from Breitbart News and the Washington Examiner—has been meeting privately since early this year to concoct talking points, coordinate messaging, and hatch plans for “a 30 front war seeking to fundamentally transform the nation,” according to documents obtained by Mother Jones.
Dubbed Groundswell, this coalition convenes weekly in the offices of Judicial Watch, the conservative legal watchdog group. During these hush-hush sessions and through a Google group, the members of Groundswell—including aides to congressional Republicans—cook up battle plans for their ongoing fights against the Obama administration, congressional Democrats, progressive outfits, and the Republican establishment and “clueless” GOP congressional leaders. They devise strategies for killing immigration reform, hyping the Benghazi controversy, and countering the impression that the GOP exploits racism. And the Groundswell gang is mounting a behind-the-scenes organized effort to eradicate the outsize influence of GOP über-strategist/pundit Karl Rove within Republican and conservative ranks. (For more on Groundswell’s “two front war” against Rove—a major clash on the right—click here.)
One of the influential conservatives guiding the group is Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, a columnist for the Daily Caller and a tea party consultant and lobbyist. Other Groundswell members include John Bolton, the former UN ambassador; Frank Gaffney, the president of the Center for Security Policy; Ken Blackwell and Jerry Boykin of the Family Research Council; Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch; Gayle Trotter, a fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum; Catherine Engelbrecht and Anita MonCrief of True the Vote; Allen West, the former GOP House member; Sue Myrick, also a former House GOPer; Diana Banister of the influential Shirley and Banister PR firm; and Max Pappas, a top aide to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
Among the conveners listed in an invitation to a May 8 meeting of Groundswell were Stephen Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News Network; Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent who resoundingly lost a Maryland Senate race last year (and is now running for a House seat); Leonard Leo, executive vice president of the Federalist Society; Sandy Rios, a Fox News contributor; Lori Roman, a former executive director of the American Legislative Exchange Council; and Austin Ruse, the head of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. Conservative journalists and commentators participating in Groundswell have included Breitbart News reporters Matthew Boyle and Mike Flynn, Washington Examiner executive editor Mark Tapscott, and National Review contributor Michael James Barton.
Groundswell has collaborated with conservative GOPers on Capitol Hill, including Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Cruz and Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), a leading tea partier. At its weekly meetings, the group aims to strengthen the right’s messaging by crafting Twitter hashtags; plotting strategy on in-the-headlines issues such as voter ID, immigration reform, and the sequester; promoting politically useful scandals; and developing “action items.”
A certain amount of secrecy cloaks Groundswell’s efforts. Though members have been encouraged to zap out tweets with a #GSW hashtag, a message circulated to members of its Google group noted that the role of certain advocates should be kept “off of the Google group for OPSEC [operational security] reasons.” This “will avoid any potential for bad press for someone if a communication item is leaked,” the message explained. (The Groundswell documents were provided to Mother Jones by a source who had access to its Google group page and who has asked not to be identified.)
Anti-Muslim Activist Upset Huma Abedin Walks On Streets That Were In 'Ruins and Ashes and Smoke at 9/11'
Conspiracy theorists Frank Gaffney and Diana West yesterday took turns attacking Huma Abedin, the top Hillary Clinton aide and wife of New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, and insisted that the media is covering up her ties to Muslim terrorists. Gaffney and West, like other anti-Muslim activists, encouraged Michele Bachmann’s witch hunt against Abedin. The two have long engaged in baseless conspiracy theories; for example, both are birthers and Gaffney thinks Obama might be a secret Muslim.Yesterday on Secure Freedom Radio, West accused the media and government officials of orchestrating a “suppression of the facts” about Abedin…just as they supposedly repressed the truth about the “Communist penetration” of the government in the 1950s.
Breitbart-sponsored panel of anti-Muslim activists claims their banishment from CPAC is ‘stealth jihad’ | The Raw Story
If Breitbart publisher Steve Bannon was under the impression that giving anti-Muslim activists Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer and Frank Gaffney a rather public platform at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference after the organizers at the American Conservative Union banned them from direct participation would leave them feeling chastened or even grateful for the opportunity, Robert Spencer disabused him of that notion within moments of beginning his address. Rather than touching upon the nominal topic of his speech, “Why I am not a conservative,” Spencer lit straight into the exact kind of personal attacks against ACU board members Grover Norquist and Suhail Khan that not only got him banned but from which Bannon had specifically asked him to refrain.
“There’s no ‘personal attack,’” Spencer claimed after Bannon tried to steer him back to his speech topic because, he stated, he wasn’t personally acquainted with either Norquist or Khan. “What I do know is that they’re completely in bed with the same people Barack Obama is listening to to press the Muslim Brotherhood-positive foreign policy of the United States, and domestic policy as well.”
It was the sort of red meat that only about sixty percent of the once-capacity crowd had stuck around for more than an hour of painfully boring speeches to hear — and they ate it up, giving Spencer a standing ovation at the end of a short speech in which he also claimed “the United States government has sold out to the Muslim Brotherhood” and that, “This is not about me.”
Geller was next up to the microphone, which she used to claim that God himself had a hand in her being given the opportunity to speak at CPAC despite her banishment. “The media is self-enforcing the sharia,” she asserted to the audience by not giving enough coverage to what she called jihadist attacked inside the United States. But while she encouraged others to do the same, she warned them, “You are a ‘racist Islamophobic anti-Muslim bigot’ if you touch this subject.”
Despite her concerns about the “libel” of such statements about her motivations, Geller used her time to explain more about her suit against the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority, which first denied her the ability to run anti-Islam subway ads and then were forced to do so by a lawsuit she brought based on the First Amendment. “You know why I had to sue?” she asked the audience rhetorically. “Because I’m insulting the savages, that’s why,” she finished to nervous titters.
She also called out the “My Jihad” counter-campaign against her ads by the Council on American-Islamic Relations that seeks to educate Americans that “jihad” does not inherently mean religious war. “This so so bizarre and so insulting and so offensive to the intelligence of the American people,” she said, “But this is the war, you see. The war is in the information battle space. The war is in the war of ideas. And we are being completely shut out by our own,” by not being allowed to host panels on it at CPAC.
“Now, am I saying that [ACU Board Member]Suhail Khan is as bad as al-Awlaki?” she asked her audience. “He’s worse! Listen to me! He’s worse because look what he’s done to this conference. Look at the effect that they have had on this conference. That was stealth jihad, that’s what that was.”
Frank Gaffney, whose presentation was nominally about the problems with reducing America’s nuclear arsenal, used the question-and-answer session to join in the attacks on Norquist and Khan, claiming that Norquist — who is the anti-tax advocate behind Americans For Tax Reform — was the “protege” of a Muslim convicted of supporting al Qaeda and that it was at Norquist’s insistence that Karl Rove brought Khan into the White House during the Bush Administration despite the fact that Khan supposed is “a prince of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
The problem with CPAC organizers not apparently aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood, according to Spencer, is that “people are very anxious not to appear bigoted and racist and so they court Muslim groups that they believe to be moderate — and I’m not saying that there are no moderate Muslims and no Muslims that don’t want to kill us, I’m very glad that there are Muslims that don’t want to kill us and I know that there are lots of them. The thing is, though, that there are many groups that are not moderate at all, that have the same goals as the al Qaeda groups and all the others that are involved in violent jihad but they are just achieving those goals by different means.”
“This is manifest and obvious in all kinds of ways,” he added. “The infiltration is very great and its very sophisticated and people for the best of intentions fall for it. We have to be more alert and more aware.”
But it was when birther Orly Taitz stood up and lectured the panelists about not allowing her and her followers to discuss Obama’s supposedly real citizenship that Geller echoed the views of more than one CPAC attendee about the whole thing: “It’s inappropriate,” she said.
h/t: The Raw Story
On Monday, People For the American Way delivered a petition with 178,000 signatures to House Speaker John Boehner calling for the removal of Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Bachmann, one of Congress’ leading purveyors of conspiracy theories, earned rebukes from Boehner and others last year when she accused several Muslim-American government employees, include top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, of being secret agents of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The petition, to put it mildly, hit a nerve among Bachmann’s allies in the anti-Muslim Right. FrontPageMag, an online outfit led by David Horowitz, has published a full three articles defending Bachmann and accusing PFAW of “smearing” the “vindicated” Bachmann by launching an “all-out war” on her. In one article, Robert Spencer of JihadWatch argues, “If they really had any genuine concern for the American way, instead of calling for her removal from the Intelligence committee, the People for the American Way would be calling for Bachmann to be appointed to chair that committee.”
Yesterday, Horowitz launched his own petition, titled, ironically, “Stop the Witch Hunt Against Rep. Bachmann.”
Horowitz and Spencer aren’t the only ones coming to Bachmann’s defense. The Center for Security Policy’s Frank Gaffney, who was the source of the bulk of Bachmann’s accusations against Abedin, and conservative columnist Diana West discussed the petition on Wednesday’s edition of Secure Freedom Radio. People For the American Way, Gaffney suggested, is part of the “Red-Green Axis” and should be called instead “People For the Islamist Way.”
H/T: Miranda Blue at RWW
When Muslim-American organizations and activists concerned with Islamophobia woke up the day after the election, on November 7, they were elated. Key members of what had been dubbed the House Republican “Islamophobia caucus”had been voted out of office. These Tea Party-affiliated Republicans included Joe Walsh (R-IL), who had warned in August that Islamists were “trying to kill Americans every week” and were lurking in the Chicago suburbs, and Allen West (R-FL), who linked the entire religion of Islam to terrorism.
These fear-mongers won’t be able to spread their hysteria from the bully pulpit of a House seat any longer. But that doesn’t mean that the House Republican caucus has rid themselves of the scourge of anti-Muslim politicians who stoke that sentiment for political gain. On the contrary, the House Republican caucus remains the place where the ugly head of Islamophobia rests comfortably.
Here are five House Republicans who spread anti-Muslim sentiment routinely. Activists concerned with Islamophobia should watch these players in the year to come. The fight against Islamophobia in this country is far from over, and many members of the Republican Party remains wedded to that hateful ideology.
1. Michele Bachmann
This Minnesota Tea Party favorite catapulted herself into the spotlight again by hawking a wacky conspiracy theory first propagated by a former Reagan administration official and now chief Islamophobe. She narrowly won re-election in November despite spending twelve times as much as her opponent, Democrat Jim Graves.
Last summer, Bachmann garnered national attention when she and other Republicans alleged that the Muslim Brotherhood, an Egyptian-based political movement that spread throughout the Middle East, had “penetrated” the U.S. government. Specifically, Bachmann singled out a prominent Muslim-American aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton named Huma Abedin as being part of the conspiracy. The Minnesota congresswoman made the allegations in letters sent to U.S. government officials.
The letter questioned whether there was “direct influence” on the intelligence community from “[Muslim] Brotherhood operatives.” And the letter also mentioned that Abedin has “family members” connected to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Needless to say, the allegations were bogus, and some Republican leaders blasted Bachmann for going on a witch hunt. “Accusations like this being thrown around are pretty dangerous,” said Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH).But other Republican officials backed up Bachmann. “Her concern was about the security of the country,” said Eric Cantor (R-VA).
Her letter to U.S. government officials made clear that Bachmann got her ideas from Frank Gaffney, a former Reagan aide and prominent neoconservative. Gaffney is a leading anti-Muslim activist in the U.S., and has produced a 10-part online series about the Muslim Brotherhood’s influence in the U.S. But the idea that the Muslim Brotherhood is plotting from within is a McCarthyite theory that casts aspersions on Muslim-Americans within the U.S. government. There is also no evidence to support the theory.
This summer 2012 episode was hardly the only iteration of Bachmann’s Islamophobia, though. In 2011, she stoked fear about sharia law—Islamic law—taking over U.S. courts.
2. Peter King
He may have lost his chairmanship of the Homeland Security committee due to party-imposed term-limits, but you can count on King stoking the flames of fear towards Islam next year. King, a Republican hailing from Long Island, used his post as chair of the House Homeland Security Committee to specifically target the problem of terrorism within the Muslim community—and nowhere else, despite right-wing extremism being on the rise. After serving for seven years, King is no longer the head of the committee, though he will remain a member.
King has a penchant for singling out Muslim-Americans. He held a total of five separate hearings on Islam and terrorism in the United States, ostensibly to focus on the threat of “homegrown” terrorism from Muslims.
His first hearing sparked the most controversy. Titled “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response,” it was based on King’s assumption that the Muslim community in the U.S. is prone to breeding extremists. In 2004, King claimed that “80%, 85% of the mosques in this country are controlled by Islamic fundamentalists.” Despite this claim becoming a right-wing meme, there was no evidence to back it up. In fact, as the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights pointed out in a letter to King before his first hearing, “experts have concluded that mosque attendance is a significant factor in the prevention of extremism.”
King courted even more controversy based on one of his star witnesses at the first hearing: Zuhdi Jasser, an activist who has become the right’s darling Muslim. Jasser is the head of a group called the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, which is funded by anti-Muslim figures like the right-wing Christian Foster Friess. Many Muslim organizations say that Jasser has little following among American Muslims. Jasser narrated an Islamophobic film put out by an Israeli-settler and neoconservative linked outfit called the Clarion Fund. The film, titled “The Third Jihad,” was shown to New York Police Department officers as training and claims that Muslim extremists are plotting from within to take over the U.S.
3. Mike McCaul
For the House Homeland Security Committee, it’s out with one Islamophobe as chief of the panel, and in with another. McCaul, a Republican hailing from Texas, has dutifully served alongside King on the committee. And now, he’s getting his chance to run it on his own.
Since King was forced out of the top spot due to party-imposed parameters, McCaul has been tapped to lead the Homeland Security Committee. McCaul’s history of Islamophobia shows why he will likely lead the committee similar to how King did.
And McCaul also runs around with the players behind the wave of Islamophobia that has swept the nation since 9/11. McCaul appeared on Frank Gaffney’s radio show last year—the same radio show where Gaffney has spread his toxic theories about sharia law and the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S. And McCaul didn’t bat an eye, or mutter any response, when Gaffney carried on about the “Muslim Brotherhood’s operations in the United States.” When he got a chance to speak, McCaul indulged in speculation about the “threat” of Hezbollah, the Lebanese armed group, in the Western Hemisphere—a threat for which there is little evidence for, according to PolitiFact.
4. Louie Gohmert
This Texas Republican has promoted anti-Muslim sentiment too many times before. Gohmert was widely mocked for his August 2010 assertion that Middle Eastern terrorists were plotting new attacks on the U.S. by sending their pregnant wives to this country whose children “could be raised and coddled as future terrorists.” The phrase “terror babies” entered the political lexicon after Gohmert’s outlandish statements. Yet, as Mother Jones noted at the time, there’s not “a morsel of evidence to support Gohmert’s terror baby tale, which the congressman says he learned of from a woman on a plane while en route to the Middle East and from a retired FBI agent.”
The next year, Gohmert again made headlines with remarks about Islam and President Barack Obama. He suggested that Obama’s allegiances were with Islamic states instead of the U.S. “I know the president made the mistake one day of saying he had visited all 57 states, and I’m well aware that there are not 57 states in this country, although there are 57 members of OIC, the Islamic states in the world,” Gohmert said on the House floor. “Perhaps there was some confusion whether he’d been to all 57 Islamic states as opposed to all 50 U.S. states. But nonetheless, we have an obligation to the 50 American states, not the 57 Muslim, Islamic states…This administration [has been] complicit in helping people who wants [sic] to destroy our country.”
5. Trent Franks
In recent years, Arizona Republican Trent Franks has taken to demonizing Muslim-Americans.
In 2009, Franks was one of four Republicans to call for an investigation of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s leading Muslim civil rights group and a favorite target of the Islamophobic right. The GOP members claimed an investigation was needed into whether CAIR was “spying” on Congressional offices in order to influence policy. The evidence for that charge was a 2007 CAIR memo that called for placing Muslim interns in key Congressional offices in order to influence policy on issues important to Muslim-Americans—something that every interest group does in Washington. As Glenn Greenwald pointed out at the time: “They stand accused of plotting to influence members of Congress and trying to help interns obtain positions in Congress in order to advance their political agenda. That’s consistent with what virtually every political advocacy group in the nation does; it’s normally called activism and democracy.” But for House Republicans, Muslim-Americans working on Capitol Hill is a step down the road towards sharia law.
The House GOP members’ initial source for the entire CAIR debacle was a book titled Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America.
Frank Gaffney was the guest on AFA’s “Today’s Issues” radio program this morning to discuss the Right’s ongoing obsession with the conspiracy that there has been a systematic cover-up of the attack in Benghazi, Libya back in September. The conspiracy theory now runs so deep that it prompted Tim Wildmon to go off on an extended rant about how President Obama and his administration lied and “intentionally misled the American people” about what happened in order to protect him ahead of the election. As such, Wildmon asserted, this “scandal” is worse than Watergate and that had this happened back in 1973, Obama would have been unanimously impeached:
Gohmert: "Obama Administration may have 'A Bunch of Muslim Brotherhood Members Giving them Advice'" | Right Wing Watch
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) spoke to anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney yesterday on Secure Freedom Radio where he alleged that the Obama administration actively aided Al Qaeda and follows the advice of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Texas congressman partnered with Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and a group of Republicans to demand investigations of Muslim Americans serving in the administration, warning that Muslim Brotherhood secret agents have successfully conducted “deep penetration” of the U.S. government. After the witch hunt was roundly criticized by Democrats and Republicans alike, Bachmann ended up literally running away from reporters.
But Gaffney and Gohmert remained defenders of the witch hunt, with Gaffney accusing Speaker John Boehner of “parroting the Muslim Brotherhood line” and Gohmert claiming that Obama “has helped jump-start a new Ottoman Empire.”
Yesterday, Gohmert told Gaffney that the anti-Muslim investigations are needed more than ever, arguing that Obama made such “horrendous decisions” by backing “revolutions in Northern Africa and across the Middle East and to the Far East” that it is likely because the “administration had a bunch of Muslim Brotherhood members giving them advice.”
Gohmert, of “terror babies” distinction, later maintained that Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood take over Libya (they didn’t) thanks to help from the Obama administration and also talked about how Palestinians are actually a new group because they didn’t live in the area when King David ruled.
h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW
Huffington Post Politics: Frank Gaffney Plotting To Take Down Grover Norquist With Muslim Brotherhood Accusations
WASHINGTON — If Frank Gaffney gets his way, Grover Norquist won’t be at a high-profile conservative gathering known as the Conservative Political Action Conference in October. Not only that, but the anti-tax crusader and his allies will be totally discredited and branded as supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Gaffney is head of the Center for Security Policy and committed to raising the alarm about what he sees as the growing influence of Islam in American politics. Most recently, his work inspired Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and four other conservative lawmakers to write to federal agencies and ask them to investigate whether the Muslim Brotherhood is infiltrating the U.S. government. Those accusations were harshly denounced by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, political pundits and a long list of religious and secular groups.
But long before he was going after top State Department official Huma Abedin, Gaffney was targeting two men connected with CPAC: Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform, and Suhail Khan, a former official in the administration of President George W. Bush. Both are board members of the American Conservative Union, which runs CPAC.