Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is at the center of a firestorm over her request that the State, Homeland Security, Defense and Justice Departments, investigate potential "policies and activities that appear to be the result of influence operations conducted by individuals and organizations associated with the Muslim Brotherhood." This is an entirely legitimate call, as Bachmann abundantly illustrated in a 16-page letter to Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN), laying out the reasons for her concerns. Yet even Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who should know better, has upbraided Bachmann, criticizing her for including Hillary Clinton’s top aide, Huma Abedin, among those she noted for having Brotherhood ties.
McCain declared in a statement on the Senate floor that “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.”
McCain, brimming with righteous indignation, thundered: “These sinister accusations rest solely on a few unspecified and unsubstantiated associations of members of Huma’s family, none of which have been shown to harm or threaten the United States in any way. These attacks on Huma have no logic, no basis, and no merit. And they need to stop now.”
He explained that the letter Bachmann and several other Representatives sent asking for an investigation into Muslim Brotherhood influence in the government “alleges that three members of Huma’s family are ‘connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations.’ Never mind that one of those individuals, Huma’s father, passed away two decades ago.”
However, in her letter to Ellison, Bachmann explained that much more was behind her concern about Abedin than guilt-by-association based on family members: "The concerns about the foreign influence of immediate family members is such a concern to the U.S. Government that it includes these factors as potentially disqualifying conditions for obtaining a security clearance, which undoubtedly Ms. Abedin has had to obtain to function in her position. For us to raise issues about a highly-based U.S. Government official with known immediate family connections to foreign extremist organizations is not a question of singling out Ms. Abedin. In fact, these questions are raised by the U.S. Government of anyone seeking a security clearance."
And in Abedin’s case, there are ample reasons for raising these questions. Her father, Syed Z. Abedin, was a professor in Saudi Arabia who founded the Institute for Muslim Minority Affairs, an organization supported by the Muslim World League, a Brotherhood organization. Her mother, Saleha Mahmoud Abedin, is a member of the Muslim Sisterhood, the Brotherhood’s adjunct organization for women. The Brotherhood itself is in its own words, according to a captured internal document, dedicated to “eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house.”
All that leaves McCain unmoved, for he goes on to assert that “the letter and the report offer not one instance of an action, a decision, or a public position that Huma has taken while at the State Department that would lend credence to the charge that she is promoting anti-American activities within our government. Nor does either document offer any evidence of a direct impact that Huma may have had on one of the U.S. policies with which the authors of the letter and the producers of the report find fault.”
However, it is odd that McCain would expect Bachmann to produce the outcome of an investigation before any investigation has even taken place. As Bachmann noted, “these questions are raised by the U.S. Government of anyone seeking a security clearance." So why should Huma Abedin be exempt? Would an official who had family connections with the Ku Klux Klan or the Aryan Nations be similarly exempt from scrutiny? If not, why should someone with familial connections to a group dedicated to “eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within”?
As Bachmann pointed out in her letter to Ellison, the Muslim Brotherhood ties of Abedin’s mother, father and brother have never been a secret, and have long been noted in the international press. Abedin herself has never publicly distanced herself from the Brotherhood, or explained how her worldview or her vision of Islam differ from that of her parents or brother. So by what moral calculus can it possibly be “sinister,” as McCain put it, to ask that Abedin be subjected to the same scrutiny that would be focused upon anyone seeking a security clearance that would allow access to sensitive material comparable to that which she enjoys?
What’s more, the Obama administration’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is so obvious that Egyptian demonstrators just days ago pelted Hillary Clinton’s motorcade with tomatoes and shoes for delivering that country up to the rule of the Brotherhood and the imposition of Islamic law that is almost certain to come. Protestors held signs reading “Message to Hillary: Egypt will never be Pakistan”; “To Hillary: Hamas will never rule Egypt” and “If you like the Ikhwan [Brotherhood], take them with you!”
Did Huma Abedin have any influence over the Obama administration’s warm support for the Brotherhood? No one knows. Michele Bachmann doesn’t know, and doesn’t claim otherwise. John McCain, for that matter, doesn’t know that Abedin didn’t have this kind of influence. That is precisely why an investigation should be made.
In Abedin’s defense, McCain recounted: “Some years ago, I had the pleasure, along with my friend, the Senator from South Carolina, Senator Lindsey Graham, of traveling overseas with our colleague, then-Senator Hillary Clinton. By her side, as always, was Huma, and I had the pleasure of seeing firsthand her hard work and dedicated service on behalf of the former Senator from New York - a service that continues to this day at the Department of State, and bears with it significant personal sacrifice for Huma.”
In this McCain demonstrates a naivete that is astonishing if he really means what he says. That Abedin works hard and has served Clinton with dedication is not at issue. But the lingering question is: To what end? It may be that she is just as patriotic and loyal to American principles and American freedoms as McCain implies. It may also be that her familial loyalties have led her to take a positive stance toward the Muslim Brotherhood that is ultimately inimical to the interests of the United States. There simply isn’t enough to go on to answer that question either way at this point. That’s why there should be an investigation, and why John McCain is wrong, and Michele Bachmann is right.
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