Westmoreland under fire for letters on Muslim BrotherhoodBy SARAH FAY CAMPBELL
Third District U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland has come under fire for his signature on letters sent to the inspectors general of several government agencies asking for investigations into the possible influence of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The letters were sent in mid-June but have come to light only in the past few weeks. Recently, Westmoreland and the other signatories have been condemned by various groups and politicians, including prominent Republicans, for the letters and accusations.
The other signers were Westmoreland’s fellow U.S. representatives Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, Trent Franks of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas and Tom Rooney of Florida.
“We must always stay vigilant when fighting against those who want to destroy our way of life,” Westmoreland said in a June 14 press release about the letters. “The Muslim Brotherhood may not have the name recognition of al-Qaeda or the Taliban, but that does not mean they don’t have the potential to be just as deadly. I’m hoping these letters will send the message to our country’s intelligence, law enforcement and diplomatic agencies that we cannot ignore the Muslim Brotherhood and must look into their operations and membership.”
The letters are posted on Bachmann’s website at http://bachmann.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=303218 .
Westmoreland, Bachmann, and Rooney serve on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Franks and Rooney serve on the Armed Services Committee; Franks and Gohmert serve on the Judiciary Committee, and Gohmert is vice chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security.
In the letter regarding the State Department, Westmoreland and others express concerns about recent State Department actions “that have been enormously favorable to the Muslim Brotherhood and its interests.”
The letter specifically raises concerns about Huma Abedin, deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and wife of former New York Congressman Anthony Wiener.
It is stated in the letter that Abedin has three family members — her father, who died 20 years ago, her mother, and her brother — who are “connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations.”
The source for this information is listed in the letter as being “The Muslim Brotherhood in America: the Enemy Within,” a product of the Center for Security Policy.
The letter writers state that Abedin’s position “affords her routine access to the secretary and to policy-making.”
The letter then lists several state department actions, including “a personal intervention by Secretary Clinton that allowed a prominent Muslim Brotherhood leader, Tariq Ramadan, to enter the United States, overturning a policy of a previous administration had precluded him from doing so.”
In the letter it says that during his visits to the U.S., Ramadan had taken part in what the Muslim Brotherhood calls “civilization jihad,” including proselytization, recruitment, indoctrination, fundraising and “other forms for promotion of the totalitarian, supremacist Islamic doctrine known as shariah.”
In the letter the congressmen question meetings with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, efforts undertaken in the name of “engaging” the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the U.S., Clinton’s waiver of congressional restrictions on aid to Egypt and Clinton’s waiver of congressional restrictions on aid to the Palestinian Authority.
“We believe these actions and policies are deeply problematic.”
The congressmen asked that the inspector general investigate and prepare a report. They asked that the report address whether, within the programs and operations of the State Department, any individual associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, directly or indirectly, has ever renounced the objectives of the Muslim Brotherhood in North America. The inspector general is also asked to determine how the Muslim Brotherhood is active in the programs and operations of the State Department.
The letter from the group of congressmen ends asking the inspector general, Harold Geisel, to “please forward your recommended corrective action, including a discussion of its consistency with the Constitution and laws of the United States â ¦ within 90 days.”
Abedin has been repeatedly defended since the letters came out, including by Republican Sen. John McCain and House Speaker John Boehner.
“These allegations about Huma and the report from which they are drawn are nothing less than an unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable woman, a dedicated American and a loyal public servant,” McCain said last week.
In the letter to the Department of Homeland Security, the congressmen raise concerns about three Muslims in key advisory roles: Dalia Mogahed, Mohamed Elibiary and Mohamed Magid. In the letter the congressmen say that, according to “The Muslim Brotherhood in America: The Enemy Within,” the three individuals have “extensive ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, other Islamist organizations and causes.”
Magid is the main point of focus in the letter to the Department of Defense, as well. Other problems mentioned in the DOD letter include the use of Brotherhood-associated groups to recruit, train, and credential Muslim military chaplains, and “serial acts of what can only be interpreted by our Islamist enemies as submission to the supremacist doctrine that they call ‘shariah.’” The acts of submission include “repeated apologies,” as well as the military being required to conform to personal hygienic guidelines dictated by Muslim practice, and building mosques with taxpayer money. The letter also takes issue with a counter insurgency strategy that “involves myriad acts of submission that are endangering our servicemen and women, and emboldening our enemies. These include restrictive rules of engagement that “subordinate force protection to minimizing civilian casualties” and “submitting to local customs, culture and more with possibly lasting harm to the values and good order and discipline of our military, and the American society it protects.”
A group of 42 religious and secular organizations sent its own letter on Thursday to the five members of Congress. The diverse group includes organizations ranging from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, United Church of Christ and Jewish Council on Public Affairs to the Atheist Alliance of America, NAACP, and The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
“These letters question the loyalty of faithful Americans based on nothing more than their religious affiliations and what is at best tenuous evidence of their associations,” the groups say in the letter. “As such, your actions have serious implications for religious freedom and the health of our democracy”
The groups state that the different Muslims being accused in the letters “have long-standing histories of positive and committed work to strengthen the United States of America.
“Furthermore we take offense to the implications of your actions for the American Muslim community as a whole, as you give momentum to ‘guilt by association’ accusations and betray our foundational religious freedoms.”
Cowetan Rick Page wrote an e-mail to Westmoreland last week, expressing his disapproval of the letters.
He received a lengthy letter from Westmoreland in response. The letter was sent to Westmoreland’s constituents, who contacted his office about the Muslim Brotherhood, according to Leslie Shedd, Westmoreland’s communications director.
In the response, Westmoreland states that he has “been meeting with fellow members of Congress, as well as experts on the Muslim Brotherhood, for quite a while in an attempt to get a more complete understanding of the organization and its intentions within our country, and what I have learned concerns me.”
Westmoreland says “we need to expose the Muslim Brotherhood for what it is, and expose those Brotherhood members who may be attempting to subvert our government, in order to preserve our democratic way of life.”
Westmoreland said it was his “hope that these lettersâ ¦ would result in our government taking a hard look at the Muslim Brotherhood and taking necessary steps to stop this organization and its agents before it is too late.”
Westmoreland also says in the letter that it was his intention to focus on the Muslim Brotherhood, not any one individual. He regrets that “the attention on one specific letter has shifted from the Brotherhood to a particular person.”
“Regardless, I look forward to working with the State Department to examine any influence the Muslim Brotherhood may have had or does have within the department,” Westmoreland said.
Shedd was asked if Westmoreland and the signers feel that the Muslim-Americans in question haven’t been thoroughly vetted, or if they had attempted to get answers to these concerns privately first and then felt the need to go public.
“Due to the sensitive nature of the topics discussed in Intel Committee briefings, the congressman cannot lay out any additional information that has led him to sending these letters beyond what was clearly stated in the letters,” Shedd said. “However, he takes the issue of protecting our national security very seriously. If he has any concerns whatsoever regarding a potential threat to our national security, he will make sure a full and complete investigation takes place.”