-- The Washington Times, January 4, 2008
Initially I was reluctant to use the quote I featured in the title of this post because I couldn't adequately source it. Senator McCain made the remark about a month ago, during a period when it seemed he was appearing on a different news show almost every day to promote strong U.S. military intervention in Syria. My best guess is that I heard him make the statement on BBC World News America, but don't hold me to that.
In any case Mr McCain's words about the Muslim Brotherhood were almost an echo of what he'd told a weekend anchor on a FNC show when he was promoting strong U.S. intervention in Libya: "We can work with these people," meaning rebels who were trying to topple Muammar Gaddafi. He added that one of the rebel leaders had even attended university in the USA, as if this was proper vetting.
Despite the inadequate sourcing for his remark about the Muslim Brotherhood, I decided to mention it when I heard him publicly defend Huma Abedin, who is U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's closest aide. I don't recall that he mentioned U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann by name but Mr McCain's defense was clearly a response to a question that Ms Bachmann had raised about ties that Ms Abedin's family is rumored to have to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Mr McCain's defense omitted the fact that Ms. Bachmann's question was raised in the context of a much broader issue: the U.S. government's practice of employing Muslim advisors without more carefully investigating the advisors' ties to Islamist and jihadist causes, and without setting a high bar for such ties when it comes to security clearances.
Unfortunately Ms Bachmann has a scattered style of exposition, which made it easy for Mr McCain and other critics of her remark to divert public attention from her main points. Yesterday on his radio show Glenn Beck gave Ms Bachmann the opportunity to attempt to clarify her points, with mixed results. But with patience the reader can discern that she indeed has valid points. From the show's transcript:
GLENN: Okay. So tell me what happened. You and who else wrote a letter to the inspectors general’s office and said, “There are some questions here that need to be addressed.”Ms. Bachmann had a great deal more to get off her chest about the attempt to quash the kind of inquiry that she and other members of Congress were proposing. But to move to her defense of her remark about Huma Abedin. Again, from the Beck show transcript:
CONGRESSWOMAN BACHMANN: That’s right. It was three members of the intelligence committee: Myself, Lynn Westmoreland from Georgia, Tom Rooney from Florida. And two members of the judiciary committee: Trent Franks of Arizona and Louie Gohmert of Texas. All signed onto a letter.
We asked numerous questions of the federal government because a letter was sent ‑‑ well, let me just back up. After the Fort Hood tragedy, a report was issued that said the real problem in our government is that we are not teaching FBI agents or our military to recognize radical Islam. So that’s what we need to do. We need to teach about it.
Well, in response to that, 50 ‑‑ over 50 Muslim organizations wrote a letter requesting that the White House start a task force to stop that [inquiry] from happening. Five days after the White House got this letter, this October 19 letter ‑‑ and people can see it on my website, or maybe you have it on The Blaze ‑‑ five days after the White House got this letter from the 50 Muslim groups, they started the purge of the federal government.
Let me tell you, the federal government doesn’t do anything in five days. But [presumably within five days] they started the purge of the FBI. So now the FBI, who are supposed to be trained in [the knowledge of] radical Islam -- elements [of the agency] have been purged of their training materials. So they are no longer being taught about what radical Islam is in order to be able to truly identify it ahead of time. This is serious. This is also happening throughout our United States military, Department of Justice, and Homeland Security.
And the word “purge” isn’t my word. That’s the word used by the 50 Muslim organizations. They demanded that the president purge the training materials and the trainers. And so already people have been fired who formerly were teaching what radical Islam is. They’ve been fired or they’ve been reassigned. And [the Muslim organizations] ask that the library be purged. Americans don’t purge libraries, but they demanded that the FBI’s library be purged.
All of this was happening, and so we wrote a letter to the inspectors general asking the question: Don’t you think you should look into the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood and what it is they’re seeking to do?
CONGRESSWOMAN BACHMANN: [Abedin] is the chief aide for the ‑‑ to the Secretary of State, and we quoted from a document, and this has been well reported all across Arab media, that her father ‑‑ her late father who’s now deceased was a part of the Muslim Brotherhood. Her brother was a part of the Muslim Brotherhood, and her mother was a part of what’s called the Muslim Sisterhood.As you can see from the quote I featured from the Washington Times, complaints about the U.S. government's use of advisors with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood predate the Obama administration. So Ms Bachmann isn't talking through her hat.
It would be, we have requirements to get a high level security clearance. One thing that the government looks at are your associations, and in particular your family associations. And this applies to everyone. It would be the same that is true with me. If my family members were associated with Hamas, a terrorist organization, that alone could be sufficient to disqualify me from getting a security clearance.
So all we did is ask, Did the federal government look into her family associations before she got a high level security clearance?[...]
However, she and colleagues are raising questions that should have been raised as early as the 1970s, when the American government became dependent on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to prop up the U.S. dollar. The greatest downside of the dependence was that Washington studiously ignored the fact that the Saudi government was sowing the world with the most radical form of Islamic teachings and with anti-American propaganda. The blindness came back to bite the American people even before 9/11, and left the USA wide open to al Qaeda's 9/11 attack. So while I sympathize with Rep. Bachmann's concerns and outrage, they've arrived far too late in the day.
As for Senator McCain, his habit of wanting the U.S. defense establishment to work with people with questionable motives toward the United States represents a systemic problem in Washington. During the Cold War, the U.S. government leaned heavily on a strategy of supporting strongmen who would resist the Soviet Union or at least put on a show of doing so.
The strategy was based on the theory that 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend.' Yet somehow over the course of the Cold War the theory got garbled. The idea is to befriend enemies of your enemy -- not to befriend enemies, in the wild hope that they want to destroy other of their enemies before they try destroy you.
Washington's failure to untangle the theory has brought Americans to where we are today, which is that U.S. defense policy is America's greatest security threat.