Today on CNN, Newt Gingrich applauded the central tenets of McCarthyism to justify his support for Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) baseless campaign to root out alleged Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the U.S. government.
Host Wolf Blitzer singled out Bachmann target Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, telling Gingrich that it’s “ridiculous” to include her and that the whole thing reeks of McCarthyism. But the former House Speaker — and Mitt Romney supporter — wouldn’t back down, praising McCarthyism for rooting out communists and defending Abedin’s inclusion in Bachmann’s witch hunt. “This State Department has been amazingly pro-Muslim Brotherhood,” he said, “American citizens have the right to have the Congress ask the question.” Watch the clip:
Bachmann has been widely criticized for her anti-Muslim campaign, including by some top Republicans, particularly for singling out Abedin. But the Minnesota congresswoman has yet to offer substantial proof of any Muslim Brotherhood plot. In fact, actual members of the Islamist group have recently lamented that they can’t even take over the Egyptian government.
Clinton recently praised the Republicans who spoke out against Bachmann and today, President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser John Brennan denounced the campaign as well. “I have no idea of what it is that they are making reference to, and I’m not even going to try to divine what it is that sometimes comes out of Congress,” he said.
One of the guests at Thursday’s event was Vice President of the Family Research Council Jerry Boykin, who has a long history of Islamophobia, and once said that Islam “should not be protected under the First Amendment.” Most recently, Boykin piled on to Bachmann’s baseless indictment that top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin is part of a Muslim Brotherhood plot. “I believe in some aspects of this situation there is support for the infiltration of the Muslim Brotherhood into our government, that sounds extremist but it is just a fact, it’s a reality,” he said.
Two others in attendance at Thursday’s event — American Values president Gary Bauer and Focus on the Family founder James Dobson — penned a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) defending Bachmann’s witch hunt. In that letter, they argued there is legitimate concern about “senior federal officials or branches of the federal government could be animated or influenced by groups affiliated with, or a philosophy grounded in, radical Islam.”
Boehner ended up rebuking Bachmann and her Islamophobic effort — which is more than Romney has done. The presidential candidate has refused to condemn Bachmann saying, “I’m not going to tell other people what things to talk about.”
This post originally listed Family Research Council president Tony Perkins as one of the people at the meeting. It is unconfirmed whether Perkins was there, but his name is on the letter to Speaker Boehner.
Frank Gaffney shakes Andy McCarthy's hand today at the National Press Club
Frank Gaffney and his lawyer sidekick Andrew McCarthy hosted a National Press Club event today to defend Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) anti-Muslim witch hunt alleging a supposed Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the U.S. government. It appears Bachmann and her GOP colleagues got wind of these completely unsubstantiated claims from Gaffney and McCarthy, who both feature prominently in Fear, Inc., CAP’s report on Islamophobia in America.
The duo didn’t offer any new evidence on this supposed Muslim Brotherhood plot, but McCarthy awkwardly got caught denouncing his partner Gaffney’s claims — with Gaffney standing right next to him — that Obama “may still be a Muslim” as “nutty”:
NICK SEMENTELLI, FAITH IN PUBLIC LIFE: Mr. Gaffney doesn’t believe that Obama was born in the United States also he says there’s mounting evidence that he may still be a Muslim, do you agree with those claims? [...]
MCCARTHY: [I]f somebody wants to run a nutty theory that Obama is a Muslim because at one time he may have been in his childhood was raised as one, which I don’t know to be true either, then you know, good for them but I think it’s a stupid thing to do.
Sementelli pressed to McCarthy to address Gaffney’s birtherism but he wouldn’t bite. “I’m not going to do the birth certificate. I’m here to talk about the Muslim Brotherhood,” McCarthy said. Watch the clip:
Aside from wondering whether Obama is “still” a Muslim, Gaffney does regularly flirt with birtherism. “An issue that isn’t being given the attention that it needs to be by the mainstream media,” Gaffney said just as recently as last June, “namely the thorny question of whether Barack Obama is indeed eligible to be president of the United States.”
Salon’s Alex Seitz-Wald reports that President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser John Brennen gave “Bachmann’s witch hunt a massive eye roll.”
Mitt Romney was widely criticized last week for saying that the disparity between Israeli and Palestinian economic prosperity could be attributed to “culture.” The presumptive GOP presidential nominee and his allies on the right have since defended that claim, however former Israeli foreign affairs minister and opposition party leader Tzipi Livni — lamenting Israel’s place in U.S. electoral politics — yesterday countered that Romney left out two important parts of the equation — that the Palestinians don’t have their own state and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank:
LIVNI: I’m of course proud of the achievements of the state of Israel. In a way, Israel is truly a miracle in the Middle East. But listen, it is also part of the reality that the Palestinians don’t have their own state now. And they’re under unfortunately an ongoing occupation since ’67 that must be ended, not for the sake of the Palestinians, for the sake of Israel, by the way.
Watch the clip:
Indeed, while the prospects for a two-state solution are hanging by a thread, manycommentatorshavenoted that the World Bank blames Palestinian economic woes in large part on the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Syrian rebel fighting in Aleppo (photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)
Syrian rebels are growing frustrated with the United States, NATO and other allies’ perceived lack of assistance in fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s forces. The U.S. is increasingly “being viewed with suspicion and resentment for its failure to offer little more than verbal encouragement to the revolutionaries,” the Washington Post reports today.
The rebels have appealed for heavy weapons, supplies and even a no-fly zone to assure safe passage around Syria and an ability to organize. “[A]ll we get is words,” said one Free Syrian Army commander who added, “America is going to lose the friendship of Syrians, and no one will trust them anymore.”
NBC’s Richard Engel, who is on the ground in Syria, is reporting that al-Qaeda appears to be stepping in to fill the vacuum. Engel said yesterday that nearly 300 al-Qaeda fighters are operating near the country’s largest city, Aleppo, where a key battle between rebels and government forces is currently underway. Engel reported on Sunday that one rebel leader said al-Qaeda “has offered his unit money and weapons — and he’s willing to take it.” Watch the report:
While hawks like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) have been advocating that the U.S. intervene in Syria military — seemingly without much regard for what U.S. allies think or the consequences of such a move — the Obama administration appears to be taking a more thoughtful and cautious approach. But Russia and China have blocked U.S. and allied efforts for U.N. intervention to end the Syrian civil war and with U.N. envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan now in shatters, the struggle for power in Syria, as the Wall Street Journal put it last week, “will be settled in the streets.”
However, it is inaccurate to claim that the U.S. is doing nothing to support the Syrian rebels. President Obama signed an directive sometime “within the past several months” authorizing clandestine U.S. support (via the CIA and other agencies) for the Syrian rebels. The Treasury Department also last week authorized U.S. groups to provide funding to the Free Syrian Army and recent reports revealed that the Turkish are training Syrian rebels at a U.S. air base in Southern Turkey. This is in addition to other behind the scenes assistance the U.S. has been providing over the last several months — including logistics and communications support, consulting on arms sales, gathering intelligence on who the rebels are, and providing tech aid and other training.
But, as the Post reports, “the assistance has been small-scale, intermittent, and dwarfed by the demands of an expanding battlefield that now covers all corners of the country and has escalated to include the use of air power by the government.”
While some rebels told the Post that they “don’t want any help from the West,” Engel reports that al-Qaeda’s growing influence “is a very dangerous development and rebel leaders we’ve spoken to are worried that al-Qaeda is trying to piggy back off the Syrian war and could bring a foreign agenda. In fact some rebel leaders said they would even welcome American help to eliminate al Qaeda from Syria.”
– On the heals of a recent trip to Israel, Mitt Romney chided a small sector of Israeli society yesterday, collective farms known as kibbutzim. “It’s individuals and their entrepreneurship which have driven America,” Romney said yesterday. “What America is not a collective where we all work in a kibbutz or we all in some little entity, instead it’s individuals pursuing their dreams.”
– A large majority of “security insiders” told the National Journal that they disagreed with Mitt Romney’s claim that a nuclear armed Iran is the world’s greatest threat. “Political leaders and wannabees should exercise rhetorical caution as they paint themselves and the U.S. into unwanted corners. Preventing Iran from nuclear weaponizing is important but not the greatest global threat,” one insider said.
– The Israeli daily Haaretz reported yesterday that Iran’s nuclear enrichment is progressing faster than Western intelligence had initially thought.
– The AP reports: Two gunmen wearing Afghan army uniforms killed a U.S. soldier and wounded two others Tuesday, hours after Afghanistan’s defense minister stepped down following a weekend no-confidence vote in parliament.
– The Obama administration has begun limiting the legal rights of terror suspects held at the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba, telling a federal judge Tuesday the government alone should decide when the prisoners deserve regular access to their counsel.
– The Egyptian military launched airstrikes in the Sinai Peninsula today following the shooting of 16 Egyptian soldiers near the Israeli/Gaza border on Sunday. Meanwhile, Egyptian authorities began to seal off smuggling tunnels into the Gaza Strip.