Conservative media are defending charges leveled by Representative Michele Bachmann that the Muslim Brotherhood is attempting to infiltrate the U.S. government. However, Bachmann's attacks, including one directed at Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, have received significant bipartisan condemnation.
Bachmann Baselessly Claimed Muslim Brotherhood Is Infiltrating U.S. Government, Singled Out Clinton Aide Huma Abedin
Star Tribune: Bachmann Charged "That The Muslim Brotherhood Is Infiltrating The Federal Government And Working For 'America's Demise.' " A July 19 article from the Star Tribune reported that Bachmann had dispatched letters to federal agencies requesting formal investigations into "influence operations" by the Muslim Brotherhood, including an investigation of Huma Abedin, an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:
U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann is facing a public firestorm over her accusations that the Muslim Brotherhood is infiltrating the federal government and working for "America's demise."
Her attacks, including one directed at Huma Abedin, an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, prompted Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican nominee for president, to denounce her from the Senate floor on Wednesday, where he defended Abedin and called Bachmann's comments "specious and degrading."
Bachmann's public campaign against radical Islamic influence in American life has been building for weeks, starting with a series of letters to oversight agencies at five federal departments. In them, she requested formal investigations into what she says are "influence operations" by the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic political organization.
Bachmann's letters, sent June 13, cite research by a group called the Center for Security Policy, founded by Frank Gaffney, a controversial figure who has feuded with figures of the left and right, including conservative icon Grover Norquist, who accused him of bigotry.
Gaffney, who writes widely about the threat of sharia, or Islamic law, in the United States, has said he was an informal foreign policy consultant in Bachmann's presidential bid.
Bachmann's letters were sent to the inspector general offices of the Departments of State, Justice, Defense, Homeland Security, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
They were also signed by Republican Reps. Louie Gohmert (Texas), Trent Franks (Ariz.), Thomas Rooney (Fla.) and Lynn Westmoreland (Ga).
Using nearly identical language, all warn of government policies "that appear to be a result of influence operations conducted by individuals and organizations associated with the Muslim Brotherhood." [Star Tribune, 7/19/12]
Conservative Media Defend Bachmann's Unsubstantiated Allegations
Limbaugh: Bachmann's Call For Muslim Brotherhood Investigation Is "A Legitimate Request." On the July 23 edition of his radio show, Rush Limbaugh defended Bachmann's charge that Huma Abedin be investigated for ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, calling it "a legitimate request":
LIMBAUGH: Well recently, Michele Bachmann and other Republicans sent a letter to the State Department expressing concerns -- I'm really summarizing this part of it -- expressing concern over the presence of Huma Abedin, so close to the powers that be in our government. She's Hillary Clinton's, one of her top-level aides.
But Huma's mother is best friends with the wife of the new Muslim Brotherhood president Egypt. And there is essentially a Muslim sisterhood that she's a member of. And Huma's father was also likewise involved.
So Michele Bachmann and others have written a letter to the State Department wanting some clarification, wanting an investigation to find out if -- because the Muslim Brotherhood is not what they are portrayed to be, the Muslim Brotherhood is not the -- what's the best way to put this? They're not, you know, the good mafia. The Muslim Brotherhood is being portrayed as a bunch of secularists, mainstream, non-radical, and Andy says no they're not. They are right down the middle as radical as anybody else in Jihad. And so it's a legitimate request from Michele Bachmann. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 7/23/12, via Media Matters]
CNN's Loesch: Abedin "Is Essentially A Member Of the Female Version Of The Muslim Brotherhood, The Muslim Sisterhood." On her July 19 radio show, CNN contributor Dana Loesch discussed Bachmann's Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy with anti-Islam activist Brigitte Gabriel. When Gabriel said that it was "about time our government begins an investigation into the infiltration of the Muslim Brotherhood into our government," Loesch agreed, saying, "Absolutely," then added:
LOESCH: Looking especially at how some of our foreign policy has been handled, Hillary Clinton essentially siding with the Muslim Brotherhood candidate in Egypt, and then it was discovered that her top aide -- Huma Abedin -- is essentially a member of the female version of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Muslim Sisterhood. All of this -- it seems enough to me to pose questions as to why our government is becoming so close with a group that has been so hostile to the United States, has fought against the United States, has sided with terrorists, and is a very oppressive regime that believes in Sharia law. [KFTK, The Dana Show, 7/19/12, via Media Matters]
Loesch Defends Bachmann Against "Witch Hunt." In a July 23 post on Breitbart.com titled "The Michele Bachmann Witch Hunt," Loesch argued that the "best way to assuage the congressional members' questions about Muslim Brotherhood infiltration is, of course, to prove that they are irrevocably without merit, which isn't done by attacking Bachmann ad hominem and challenging her character." She continued:
Apparently so much as asking assurances from congress that individuals are vetted -- especially now that we're endorsing Egyptian candidates whose very party affiliation so appalled Senator John McCain just a year ago -- is forbidden. I'll repeat: there are people within the Republican party who feel that asking questions of Congress and the administration is forbidden. Any declaration on the character of any individuals named was the supposition of the media and people like McCain.
All that is situationally excusable with the emergence of Bachmann as a target. It's convenient. She's long been the bane of certain Republicans because her record, while not as distinguished or completely demonstrative of Article 1 Section 8, is more conservative than most, and she's resented for it. Resented -- and disliked because she can't be molded into submission. [Breitbart.com, 7/23/12]
Wash. Times' Gaffney: Bachmann Is Providing "Fearless And Visionary Leadership" In Opposing The Muslim Brotherhood. In his July 23 Washington Times column headlined "America's 'Iron Lady': Michele Bachmann is fearless in challenging Islamist influence," Frank Gaffney lauded Bachmann for the "fearless and visionary leadership she is providing in opposing Shariah's most formidable champions, The Muslim Brotherhood." Gaffney went on to defend Bachmann over her Muslim Brotherhood allegations, claiming she is the subject of a "character assassination." From Gaffney's column:
Fortunately, it turns out that as we confront our time's most imminent threat to freedom, we have found America's Iron Lady: Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota. Her Thatcheresque qualities are evident in the fearless and visionary leadership she is providing in opposing Shariah's most formidable champions, the Muslim Brotherhood.
At the moment, Mrs. Bachmann is not facing mere name-calling but outright character assassination. She has been singled out for special treatment despite the fact that she was one of five members of Congress (the others were Reps. Louie Gohmert of Texas, Trent Franks of Arizona, Lynn A. Westmoreland of Georgia and Thomas J. Rooney of Florida) who had the temerity to send to the federal inspector general formal requests for investigations into Muslim Brotherhood influence operations inside our government. That's a threat every bit as dangerous as the communist subversion of a generation ago.
It is, of course, no accident that Mrs. Bachmann is being subjected to such vilification by the Islamists, their allies on the left and in the establishment media's amen chorus. As a principled, articulate and wildly popular Tea Party leader and conservative, she is a prime target for electoral defeat by her political foes. These include her fellow Minnesotan, Rep. Keith Ellison, the "first Muslim congressman," who launched the initial attack on our Iron Lady. More on him in a moment.
With respect to efforts to dismiss as dangerous or baseless concerns about a possible, far larger problem with individuals who have connections to the Muslim Brotherhood shaping U.S. policy toward that organization and enabling its rising power, what can one say? There is abundant evidence that indicates such concerns are warranted. Until the critics -- on Capitol Hill, in the media and elsewhere -- perform the sort of due diligence that has characterized the approach taken by Mrs. Bachmann and her colleagues, their authority on the matter must be questioned. [The Washington Times, 7/23/12]
Fox's Bolton: "What Is Wrong With Raising The Question? ... Why Has That Generated This Criticism?" In a radio interview with Frank Gaffney, Fox News contributor and former Bush administration official John Bolton defended Bachmann and her allies, saying: "What is wrong with raising the question? Why is even asking whether we are living up to our standards a legitimate area of congressional oversight, why has that generated this criticism? I'm just mystified by it." From the radio interview:
BOLTON: I've been subject to -- I don't know how many security clearance procedures and I must say as irritating as some people may find them I think they are absolutely essential to making sure that people who work in sensitive positions in the national security field in our government are entirely loyal to the United States. I just think that's an absolute, fundamental prerequisite. Now people find them intrusive, they find them inconvenient, my response is, that's just too bad. And what I think these members of Congress have done is simply raise the question, to a variety of inspectors general in key agencies, are your departments following their own security clearance guidelines, are they adhering to the standards that presumably everybody who seeks a security clearance should have to go through, are they making special exemptions? What is wrong with raising the question? Why is even asking whether we're living up to our standards a legitimate area of congressional oversight, why has that generated this criticism? I'm just mystified by it. [The Frank Gaffney Show, 7/24/12, via RightWingWatch]
But Bachmann's Allegations Have Earned Widespread Bipartisan Condemnation
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ): "These Allegations About Huma ... Are Nothing Less Than An Unwarranted And Unfounded Attack On An Honorable Citizen, A Dedicated American, And A Loyal Public Servant." A July 18 press release from the office of John McCain highlighted remarks by the senator in which he said, "These allegations about Huma, and the report from which they are drawn, are nothing less than an unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable citizen, a dedicated American, and a loyal public servant." From the press release:
Recently, it has been alleged that Huma, a Muslim American, is part of a nefarious conspiracy to harm the United States by unduly influencing U.S. foreign policy at the Department of State in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist causes. On June 13, five members of Congress wrote to the Deputy Inspector General of the Department of State, demanding that he begin an investigation into the possibility that Huma and other American officials are using their influence to promote the cause of the Muslim Brotherhood within the U.S. government. The information offered to support these serious allegations is based on a report, 'The Muslim Brotherhood in America,' produced by the Center for Security Policy.
To say that the accusations made in both documents are not substantiated by the evidence they offer is to be overly polite and diplomatic about it. It is far better, and more accurate, to talk straight: These allegations about Huma, and the report from which they are drawn, are nothing less than an unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable citizen, a dedicated American, and a loyal public servant. [Office of John McCain, 7/18/12]
Speaker John Boehner (R-OH): "I Think Accusations Like This Being Thrown Around Are Pretty Dangerous." A July 19 Politico article quoted Speaker Boehner as saying, "I think accusations like this being thrown around are pretty dangerous." From Politico:
They were long afraid to do it, but now conservatives have their knives out for Rep. Michele Bachmann.
Senators in her own party, congressional candidates, a lawmaker in her state's delegation and leaders of the House Republican Conference are all lambasting the Minnesota Republican for saying the wife of former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said merely floating the idea that Huma Abedin a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- has family ties to the radical Middle East group is "pretty dangerous."
"I don't know Huma, but from everything I do know of her, she has a sterling character," Boehner told reporters Thursday. "And I think accusations like this being thrown around are pretty dangerous." [Politico, 7/19/12]
Former Bachmann Campaign Chief Ed Rollins: "Shame On" Bachmann, Whose "Unsubstantiated Charge Against Abedin ... Is Extreme And Dishonest." On July 18, Republican strategist and Bachmann's former campaign chief Ed Rollins penned an op-ed for FoxNews.com that criticized Bachmann for making an "unsubstantiated charge against Abedin." From the op-ed, headlined "Bachmann's former campaign chief -- shame on you, Michele":
I have been a practitioner of tough politics for many decades. There is little that amazes me and even less that shocks me. I have to say that Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's outrageous and false charges against a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin reaches that threshold.
Her unsubstantiated charge against Abedin, a widely respected top aide to Secretary Hillary Clinton, accusing her of some sort of far-fetched connection to the Muslim brotherhood, is extreme and dishonest.
Having worked for Congressman Bachman's campaign for president, I am fully aware that she sometimes has difficulty with her facts, but this is downright vicious and reaches the late Senator Joe McCarthy level.
As a member of Congress, with a seat on the House Intelligence Committee, Mrs. Bachmann you know better. Shame on you, Michele! You should stand on the floor of the House and apologize to Huma Abedin and to Secretary Clinton and to the millions of hard working, loyal, Muslim Americans for your wild and unsubstantiated charges. As a devoted Christian, you need to ask forgiveness for this grievous lack of judgment and reckless behavior. [FoxNews.com, 7/18/12]
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN): "This Is McCarthyism At Its Worst." In comments to the Star Tribune, Representative Ellison characterized Bachmann's allegations as "McCarthyism at its worst." From the Star Tribune:
Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison, the first Muslim in Congress, went on CNN Tuesday night to fire back at Bachmann just as she was warning of the dangers of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Obama administration in a speech at a Washington summit of Christians United for Israel, a pro-Israel evangelical group.
"This is McCarthyism at its worst," Ellison told the Star Tribune on Wednesday, referring to the late Sen. Joe McCarthy, whose name became synonymous in the 1950s with his accusations of Communist infiltration in all walks of American life. "This is one of those moments when you can't stay silent," Ellison said. [Star Tribune, 7/19/12]
Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA): "Rep. Bachmann's Accusations About Sec. Clinton Aide Huma Abedin Are Out-Of-Line. This Kind Of Rhetoric Has No Place In Our Public Discourse." Politico quoted Senator Brown as saying: "Rep. Bachmann's accusations about sec. Clinton aide Huma Abedin are out-of-line. This kind of rhetoric has no place in our public discourse." [Politico, 7/19/12]
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI): "I Think That The Comments That Were Made About [Abedin] In That Letter ... Were The Wrong Thing To Do." ThinkProgress reported on a town hall held by Representative Sensenbrenner where the congressman criticized Bachmann's comments attacking Huma Abedin, saying they "were the wrong thing to do." From ThinkProgress:
SENSENBRENNER: Let me say that I do know Huma Abedin and I think that the comments that were made about her in that letter, whether or not they were taken out of context, were the wrong thing to do... I think the Constitution in saying that there shall never be a religious test for any office of trust and profit under the United States meant that people should not be judged on the basis of their religious beliefs or lack of religious beliefs. That was Thomas Jefferson that put that in the Constitution -- I think he was right. [ThinkProgress, 7/23/12, emphasis original]
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) On Bachmann's Allegations: "That Kind Of Assertion Certainly Doesn't Comport With The Intelligence Committee." In remarks to USA Today, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said of Bachmann's allegations: "That kind of assertion certainly doesn't comport with the Intelligence Committee, and I can say that on the record." From USA Today:
Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., a former FBI agent, said Bachmann's assertions about the Muslim Brotherhood's infiltration efforts are false.
"That kind of assertion certainly doesn't comport with the Intelligence Committee, and I can say that on the record," he told USA TODAY, aligning himself with party leaders who have defended Abedin. "I have no information in my committee that would indicate that Huma is anything other than an American patriot." [USA Today, 7/20/12]
Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD): "It's Unfortunate That Someone Like Michele Would Make That Kind Of Comment Without Facts." In remarks to USA Today, Rep. Ruppersberger, the House Intelligence Committee's top Democrat, said: "It's unfortunate that someone like Michele would make that kind of comment without facts." From USA Today:
The two top members of the U.S. House intelligence committee disassociated themselves from the tone and substance of allegations by Rep. Michele Bachmann, a panel member, that an investigation is warranted in suspected efforts by the Muslim Brotherhood to infiltrate the federal government.
"We are in a special situation as members of the intelligence committee, and we get a lot of briefings and to deal with the issue of terrorism and those types of thing," Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., the committee's top Democrat, told USA TODAY. "It's unfortunate that someone like Michele would make that kind of comment without facts." [USA Today, 7/20/12]