This afternoon, President Obama announced a shakeup of his national security team, with CIA Director Leon Panetta tapped to head the Department of Defense and Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, to take his vacated intelligence spot.
Though Petraeus is widely respected and admired, especially among conservatives, one prominent national security figure on the right has a major concern with America’s most esteemed general.
Speaking earlier this month at a Liberty University conference, Frank Gaffney, founder of the Center for Security Policy and an influential conspiracy theorist who is largely responsible for the anti-Sharia fervor on the right, sounded the warning bell about Petraeus. Gaffney accused Petraeus of “submission” to Islamic Sharia law after the general strongly condemned the burning of a Quran by a radical Florida pastor that sparked significant anger among Muslims in Afghanistan. (The ensuing uproar led to the deaths of at least 20 people, including seven U.N. employees.) Gaffney blamed Petraeus for being afraid to “give offense, which is a blasphemy and a capital crime under Sharia”:
GAFFNEY: We won’t have time here to go through this. Let me just mention several different ways in which this kind of influence operation is being run against those sorts of target sets. An important part of it is keeping us ignorant of what they are doing. I’m sure most of you witnessed General David Petraeus, the much admired military leader, responding to the Quran burning down in Florida by Pastor Terry Jones. Saying that the holy Quran – repeatedly – the holy Quran must not be desecrated, and in other ways, suggesting that what we are doing here is a kind of submission to this program, lest we give offense, which is a blasphemy and a capital crime under Sharia.
Gaffney’s assertion that Petraeus has shown “submission” to Sharia is outlandish. Still, this is not his first foray the realm of bizarre theories. Earlier this year, Gaffney echoed the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy when he told ThinkProgress that the Muslim Brotherhood has “infiltrated” the United States government. In February, Gaffney claimed the Muslim Brotherhood had infiltrated the conservative movement as well, pointing to anti-tax stalwart Grover Norquist as evidence. (Norquist’s wife is Muslim and he has long advocated for more racial and religious tolerance on the right.) Now, in a conspiracy theory that would make Fox News host Glenn Beck proud, Gaffney has added Petraeus to his growing list of supposed Sharia supporters.