Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) will remain a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence during the 113th Congress — despite leading a widely discredited anti-Muslim witch hunt against government personnel last year.
According to the committee list released Friday, Bachmann will stay on the powerful committee despite calls from People for the American Way and others for Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) to remove her. Instead, Boehner in his statement making the announcement praised the lawmakers “charged sacred task of supporting that mission by ensuring the intelligence community has the resources and tools it needs to stay ahead of the evolving threats we face, and by conducting effective oversight of the administration.”
Dismay towards Bachmann’s continuing presence on the committee stems from her use of that position to lead a witch-hunt against then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin and other U.S. government personnel. In the letter sent to the State Department, Bachmann suggested that Abedin and others were allied with the Muslim Brotherhood, seeking to infiltrate the U.S. government and affect policy decisions. The charges were clearly false, based mostly on the conspiracy theories of noted Islamophobe Frank Gaffney.
Bachmann’s actions split the Republican Party, with several prominent members — including former Speaker Newt Gingrich and former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton — signing onto her conspiracies. Many other Republicans — including Boehner himself — abandoned Bachmann to her quixotic pursuit of imaginary infiltration. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), then-Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) and others joined President Obama and Clinton in condemning Bachmann’s scare tactics.
Joining Bachmann in being renamed to the committee are Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) and Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL), who signed onto the original letter sent to State about Abedin. The clearly Islamophobic stances of these committee members makes their position on the committee, with its oversight of the National Security Agency and CIA’s activities, particularly troubling.
Bachmann in particular clearly learned nothing from her experience smearing Abedin. Not only did she stand by the content of her letter to State, as recently as December, but she also compared a letter from a Muslim advocacy group to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
By: Hayes Brown, Think Progress, February 8, 2013
Good news for people who are uneasy with New York Republican Rep. Peter King’s leadership of the House Homeland Security Committee: He’s stepping down thanks to term limits. But there’s some potential bad news: His replacement may not be a whole lot better.
Texas Republican Rep. Mike McCaul edged out Michigan Rep. Candice Miller — who was the GOP’s best hope of getting a female major committee head — and Mike Rodgers in a close private vote this week. King’s tenure as chairman drew controversy for the series of hearings he held on the radicalization of Muslims in America. Critics didn’t discount the threat of homegrown terror but said King should have expanded the hearings to include all kinds of violent radicalism, including right-wing extremism.
But McCaul has been a big booster of those hearings. “I want to thank you for demonstrating the political courage to hold these hearings,” he said to King during one last year. “I must say, I am mystified by the controversy that has followed from this. It was said by one of the members that we are investigating Muslims. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We are investigating the radicalization of Muslim youth in the United States.”
McCaul is a former federal prosecutor who headed the counterterrorism division of the U.S. attorney’s office in Texas, so his resume lends him credibility on the subject. His rhetoric is generally more mild than King’s, but some advocates in the Muslim-American community are concerned.
“In the past two years, there have been 27 terror plots, and each of them involved extreme radicalization of the Muslim faith,” he said at radicalization hearing this year. What counts as a “terror plot” is obviously subject to semantic debate, but right-wing extremists account for a good portion, if not most, of domestic terrorism under most definitions of the term.
In another hearing, he defended himself when a witness criticized him for connecting Islam and terror. “I would argue that we have to look at the obvious – that there is a religious component to this,” he said. Though he’s always careful to add that terror “doesn’t reflect the vast majority of Muslims.”
McCaul’s district is just south of Fort Hood, and he joined other Republicans in their insistence in labeling as a terrorist Maj. Nidal Hasan, who killed 13 people on the base in 2009. Hasan had corresponded with Anwar Al-Awlaki and shouted “Allahu Akbar” before opening fire, which is enough to convince McCaul that it was a “planned terror attack.” He also introduced a bill to designate victims of the attack as combatants in a combat zone.
McCaul appeared once on the radio show hosted by Frank Gaffney, the controversial activist behind Rep. Michele Bachmann’s Muslim witch hunts. Gaffney said of the congressman: “He is, in a number of capacities, a go-to guy for the sorts of things we’re interested in here at Secure Freedom Radio.” On the show, McCaul discussed one of his hobby horses, the apparent threat of Hezbollah teaming up with Mexican drug cartels to infiltrate the U.S. via the southern border. McCaul has authored two reports on the subject, both titled, “A Line in the Sand: Countering Crime, Violence, and Terror at the Southwest Border.”
He has also sent a number of “dear colleague” letters to other members of Congress asking them to support his bills to crack down on foreign terror networks. One sent in September called attention to a news article alleging the Iran’s elite Quds Force was operating in Syria and asked colleagues to support a bill to designate the unit as a terrorist organization. Others would cut off aid to Egypt and Pakistan.
None of this is particularly unusual for a conservative Republican today, but it doesn’t bode well for those who hoped that King’s departure would turn a new leaf at the Homeland Security Committee.
By: Alex Seitz-Wald, Salon, December 1, 2012
Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was placed under police protection this weekend in response to a threat made against her. This came in the wake of Rep. Michele Bachmann’s insinuation that Abedin may be a Muslim Brotherhood spy. Bachmann targeted Abedin by name in a letter sent last month to the inspector general of the State Department, and despite widespread condemnation from Republicans and Democrats alike, Bachmann doubled down on her Muslim witch hunt last week. On Friday, she accused Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison, a fellow Minnesota lawmaker, of himself being tied to the Muslim Brotherhood. Even her boss on the intelligence committee, Chairman Mike Rogers, who had initially praised Bachmann, said her “assertion certainly doesn’t comport with the Intelligence Committee.”
We know one of Bachmann’s inspirations for her Muslim witch hunt is Frank Gaffney, the former Reagan defense official who has made a second career out of finding terrorists hiding in every closet. Bachmann cites him prominently and often. But another inspiration may be John Eidsmoe, a law professor who taught Bachmann at Oral Roberts University and became something of a mentor to her. As the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza reported last year, Bachmann worked for Eidsmoe on several projects and internalized his Christian-Dominionist worldviews. If biblical law conflicts with civil law, Eidsmoe teaches that “the first thing you should try to do is work through legal means and political means to get it changed.” He told Lizza that Bachmann’s views are entirely consistent with his own.
In August of last year, Bachmann told the Rediscover God in America conference in Iowa that Eidsmoe is “absolutely brilliant.” He “had a great influence on me … He taught me about so many aspects of our Godly heritage,” she said.
Eidsmoe isn’t so popular with everyone, however. Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center explains Eidsmoe this way: “He was a member for a while of the League of the South, which is a neo-Confederate hate group, which has said things like slavery is God-ordained and is explicitly racialist. He also spoke to the Council of Conservative Citizens, which is a flat-out white supremacist group. They’re against interracial marriage, they’ve said things like — direct quote from them — ‘blacks are a retrograde species of humanity,’ so you get the idea. So, he’s hung out with hate groups, he’s been a member of hate groups, and his views are just so far outside of the mainstream that it’s amazing. I mean, really, it’s a little shocking to think that the congresswoman would be openly willing to admit that she’s influenced by him,” Beirich told Salon. (Eidsmoe did not respond to requests for comment.)
In Alabama last year, Eidsmoe declared that states have a right to secede, explaining, that Confederate president Jefferson Davis “understood the Constitution better than did Abraham Lincoln.” He was disinvited from a Tea Party rally in Wisconsin in 2010 after the AP brought his past comments to the attention of organizers.
Eidsmoe, consistent with this Christian-Dominionist worldview, has also spoken often about the dangers of Islam. On his website, he lists several seminars he offers, including “Islam & the Crusades.” In the talk, which can be heard in a 2010 recording from a Presbyterian Church in Tennessee, he pretends to be a Crusader who just escaped after 900 years in a Turkish jail. Indeed, Eidsmoe’s view on the relationship between Muslims and Christians doesn’t seem to have evolved much from the past millennium — essentially, they are still at war with each other.
“I think the correct view of the crusades is to say that they did what was necessary to preserve Western Christianity. And we should be grateful to them for that … There really is a hatred of The West within Islam,” says Eidsmoe, who is a member of the modern day Knights Templar, the Sovereign Military Order of The Temple of Jerusalem. At the beginning of his talk, he warns that the world’s Muslim population is growing quickly and could overtake Christians one day.
“We’re seeing more and more attempts to bring Shariah law, that is, Muslim law, into place in the United States … When we look at the history of Islam, we see not just a striving to find tolerance in other parts of the world, but an attempt to take over and impose their system on everybody else. And coming in and asking for exceptions on Shariah law is just the first step. We’ve seen it over and over again in history. We see that it doesn’t end there,” Eidsmoe said in an Internet radio interview.
It’s easy to see how a Dominionist worldview — that is, one that believes in trying to construct a Christian “God’s kingdom” on earth — would be hostile to Muslims in general, and not just extremists. Bachmann is an adherent to the same kind of ideology. As the Daily Beast’s Michelle Goldberg wrote during the Republican presidential primary, “If you want to understand Michele Bachmann … understanding Dominionism isn’t optional.”
By: Alex Seitz-Wald, Salon, July 23, 2012
Following John McCain’s condemnation of Michele Bachmann’s letter to the Department of State’s Inspector General, demanding an investigation of imagined ties of Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin to the Muslim Brotherhood, other Republicans are piling on.
GOP strategist Ed Rollins, who at one time managed Bachmann’s failed presidential campaign, weighed in at Fox News:
Having worked for Congressman Bachmann’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…
The Republican Party, which John McCain led as our nominee in 2008, is going to become irrelevant if we become the party of intolerance and hate. The party founded by Abraham Lincoln was a party that fought slavery and intolerance at every level.
I can assure Mrs. Bachmann, that Ms. Abedin has been thru every top clearance available and would never have been given her position with any questions of her loyalty to this country.
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 hardworking, 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. (emphasis mine)
House Speaker John Boehner today called Bachmann’s accusations “pretty dangerous.”
This appears to be an important moment of Republicans finally trying to dial back the party’s Islamophobia wing, defending public servants from the wild-eyed imaginings of Frank Gaffney’s protégés. Bachmann and the four other signatories to her letter—Republicans Trent Franks (AZ), Louie Gohmert (TX), Thomas Rooney (FL), and Lynn Westmoreland (GA)—open their argument with one of the central lies of Gaffney’s Islamophobia complex: the US government itself, they write, “has established in federal court that the Muslim Brotherhood’s mission in the United States is ‘destroying the Western Civilization from within’—a practice the Muslim Brothers call ‘civilization jihad.’” As a result, they contend, “the apparent involvement of those with such ties raises serious security concerns that warrant your urgent attention.”
Setting aside the fact that Bachmann et al. rely entirely on Gaffney—who has been dismissed by fellow conservatives as a “crazy bigot”—for their unsubstantiated claim that Abedin has Brotherhood ties, their supposed proof of the Brotherhood’s theocratic ambitions in the United States is a fabrication. For her proof, Bachmann cites an exhibit from the US government’s prosecution in the Holy Land Foundation terror financing case. Here’s what I wrote about that exhibit, and that case, over a year ago:
This claim that the Muslim Brotherhood’s aim is a worldwide theocracy, and that all American Muslim organizations fall into lock-step with it, stems solely from a single 20-year-old document written by a single Brotherhood member in 1991. In the controversial terrorism financing trial of the Holy Land Foundation, which first resulted in a mistrial in 2007, and convictions in a 2008 re-trial, federal prosecutors introduced a document, “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America.”
Gaffney and others have seized upon this document developing theories that the goal of “radical Islamists” is a global theocracy and that the Muslim Brotherhood lurks in every corner of America. GWU’s [Nathan] Brown, who testified in the first Holy Land Foundation trial, said, “Nobody has ever produced any evidence that the document was more than something produced by the daydream of one enthusiast.” Noting that he has been studying Palestinian, Egyptian, Kuwaiti, and Jordanian Brotherhood movements since 2005, Brown added, “Nothing in anything that I have heard has ever struck me as similar in tone or content to the ‘master plan.’”
Yet this single document has been used to create a mythology around a supposedly global plot. Brown, addressing the document, notes that “The prosecution in the Holy Land Case painted with a broad brush and probably should not be relied upon. There is indeed a loose coordinating international structure for the Muslim Brotherhood, but it has no real authority over the chapters.” But that hasn’t stopped Gaffney, who said recently, “It is now public knowledge that nearly every major Muslim organization in the United States is actually controlled by the MB or a derivative organization. Consequently, most of the Muslim-American groups of any prominence in America are now known to be, as a matter of fact, hostile to the United States and its Constitution.”
Based on the ‘explanatory memorandum’ document identifying a number of American Muslim organizations as allies in its author’s aspirations, prosecutors in the Holy Land Foundation trial publicly labeled over 200 American Muslim organizations “unindicted co-conspirators,” a highly controversial move derided at the time by legal experts as contrary to Justice Department policy and in violation of the groups’ constitutional rights. Eventually, the court ruled, on the motion of three of the groups, including the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), that publicly identifying them as “unindicted co-conspirators” did violate their Fifth Amendment rights. That didn’t stop The National Review’s Andrew McCarthy—a former federal prosecutor himself—from falsely claiming at CPAC, “those people were all convicted” in the Holy Land Foundation trial.
Meanwhile, the Family Research Council has just appointed Lt. General William G. “Jerry” Boykin (Ret.) as executive vice president. Boykin, among other things, has claimed that “we need to realize that Islam itself is not just a religion—it is a totalitarian way of life. It’s a legal system, shari’ah law; it’s a financial system; it’s a moral code; it’s a political system; it’s a military system. It should not be protected under the First Amendment, particularly given that those following the dictates of the Qur’an are under an obligation to destroy our Constitution and replace it with shari’ah law.” Bachmann is taking heat from fellow Republicans for her attempted witch hunt of Abedin. But will those Republicans back away from the FRC’s Values Voters Summit this fall in protest of Boykin’s history of Islamophobia?
By: Sarah Posner, Religion Dispatches, July 19, 2012