' Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.
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Jewish World Review Feb. 11, 2003 / 9 Adar I, 5763

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.

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Islamists' White House gatekeeper

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | One of the hardiest perennials in the Washington political scene is the spectacle of conservatives publicly disagreeing with one another. The vicious personal attacks launched against me last week by Grover Norquist, however, went way beyond the kind of dispute that so often enlivens policy discourse, usually to the delight -- and advantage -- of liberals who agree with neither camp.

So why would Mr. Norquist, a colleague well-known and widely admired for his work on tax reduction and conservative activism with whom I have often worked collaboratively over the years, publish a letter and take to the airwaves to accuse me of "racism," "bigotry" and "lying"?

The reason given in a letter Mr. Norquist circulated last Wednesday, that was subsequently quoted at length in articles in Friday's Washington Times and Washington Post, was comments I made at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on January 31st. During a panel discussion about the balance to be struck in time of war between preserving our civil liberties and safeguarding our country and lives, I mentioned several factors that are compelling the Bush Administration, properly in my view, to infringe in relatively minor ways on traditional American freedoms to save the country from terrorist destruction.

Preeminent among these is the threat posed by "Islamists" -- adherents to radical, violent Muslim sects like the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia -- not only in remote places like Indonesia, Pakistan and Bosnia but in the United States, itself. I made an express distinction between such Islamists and what is, I believe, the majority of Muslims in this country whom the former are determined to recruit, intimidate and dominate through a variety of techniques.

Wahhabi/Saudi funding appears to have been instrumental in creating and sustaining a large number of organizations involved in such troubling activities as: prison recruitment of American felons, indoctrination of U.S. military personnel, proselytizing on more than 500 college campuses across the United States, charitable fund-raising for terrorists and, of course, underwriting -- and, therefore, controlling -- as many as 70-80 percent of the Nation's mosques.

Given the politically attuned nature of the CPAC audience, I expressed particular concern about one of the most insidious of the Wahhabis' activities -- a concerted attempt to penetrate and otherwise influence political circles in Washington. I noted that among the several groups engaged in such activities, the American Muslim Council (AMC), had issued a press release gloating about a recent success: their invitation to participate in a January 16th White House "dialogue" with Muslim and Arab-American organizations opposed to the Bush Administration's registration of aliens from terrorist-sponsoring and -harboring nations.

The AMC press release made a point of commending Ali Tulbah, an Associate Director of the White House's Office of Cabinet Affairs, for including their representatives (notably, executive director Eric Erfan Vickers) in the meeting. Tulbah similarly admitted another highly controversial organization, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), in this meeting. There appears to have been at least nine other meetings that these groups have attended with the White House and senior Administration officials since September 2001, some at the invitation of a predecessor of Mr. Tulbah in the role of gatekeeper for the Administration's Muslim "outreach efforts, Suhail khan.

The inclusion of such organizations is remarkable on its face. It is, after all, a matter of public record that they actively oppose President Bush on: the need forcibly to liberate Iraq; increasing surveillance of potentially dangerous aliens in this country and the places where they congregate (including mosques); and giving law enforcement tools to counter terror. They have also repeatedly expressed sympathy for, excused or otherwise supported groups identified by the Bush Administration as terrorists. For example, CAIR's executive director Nihad Awad has declared in the past "I am in support of the Hamas movement." And in a television debate last June with me, the AMC's Vickers declined repeatedly to denounce either Hamas, Hezbollah or even al Qaeda, finally describing the last as a "resistance movement."

At CPAC, I expressed grave concern that allowing these sorts of organizations to meet with the President and his senior subordinates is a very bad idea in two respects. First, it could enable radical opponents of the Administration a chance to exercise undesirable influence over policy (for example, watering down immigration, law enforcement and intelligence procedures they find objectionable.) And second, it confers (witness the AMC press release) a legitimacy and stature that can only help their bid to establish the Islamists' dominance over the rest of the Nation's Islamic community.

It may be that the family ties both Messrs. Tulbah and Khan have to Wahhabi religious organizations colors their judgment about the inadvisability of favoring the likes of CAIR and the AMC. Observing that this connection exists and that, in any event, their judgment is flawed, is neither racist nor bigoted. Such judgements are, rather, the sort of things that those who care about this President and the national security must ensure are properly addressed.

Grover Norquist's intemperate and defamatory attack on me says much less about my behavior and character than it does about his own relationship to this Wahhabi political influence operation and the role of the Islamic Institute he formerly chaired in facilitating its access to the Bush team. Let us hope that his own conduct has not caused irreparable damage to either this President or the conservative movement.

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JWR contributor Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. heads the Center for Security Policy. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


02/04/03: The Powell report
01/28/03: Bush's finest hour
01/14/03: North Korean scorecard
01/07/03: Nuclear meltdown
12/17/02: Serious about defending America
12/03/02: Defining 'regime change'
11/26/02: With friends like the Saudis...
11/19/02: The Jayna Davis files
11/12/02: Could Israel die of thirst?
11/04/02: Against us
10/22/02: Too clever by half?
10/17/02: 'Drain the swamps'
10/08/02: The temptations of George Bush
10/01/02: Return of the San Francisco Dems
09/24/02: The next crusader?
09/17/02: It is no accident that advocates of coercive inspections have opposed prez's goal of regime change
09/10/02: A model for Iraq
08/27/02: Beware 'consensus leadership'
08/20/02: To Iraq or not to Iraq?
08/13/02: Trading with the 'enemy'
07/30/02: Who's trashing Ashcroft?
07/23/02: Wall Street's 'poisoned apples'
07/16/02: Back on the China front
07/09/02: See no evil?
07/02/02: Rethinking peacekeeping
06/25/02: Political moment of truth on defense
06/19/02: Inviting losses on two fronts
06/12/02: Make missile defense happen
06/04/02: The next 'Day of Infamy'?
05/29/02: Bush's Russian gamble
05/21/02: The 'next war'
05/15/02: Ex-presidential misconduct
05/07/02: When 'what if' is no game
05/02/02: Careful what we wish for
04/24/02: The real 'root cause' of terror
04/02/02: First principles in the Mideast
03/26/02: 'Renounce this map'
03/20/02: The inconvenient ally
03/12/02: Adults address the 'unthinkable'
03/05/02: The Saudi scam
02/26/02: Rumsfeld's 'now hear this'
02/19/02: Where's the outrage?
02/12/02: Post-mortem on 'Pearl Harbor II'
02/05/02: Spinning on the 'Evil Axis'
01/29/02: A challenge for the history books
01/22/02: Who pulled the plug on the Chinese 'bugs'?
01/15/02: No 'need to know'
01/08/02: Sentenced to de-nuclearize?
12/18/01: Missile defense mismanagement?
12/11/01: Is the Cold War 'over'?
12/04/01: A moment for truth
11/29/01: Send in the marines -- with the planes they need
11/27/01: 'Now Hear This': Does the President Mean What He Says?
11/20/01: Mideast 'vision thing'
11/13/01: The leitmotif of the next three days
11/06/01: Bush's Reykjavik Moment
10/30/01: Say it ain't true, 'W.
10/23/01: Getting history, and the future, right
10/16/01: Farewell to arms control
10/05/01: A time to choose
09/25/01: Don't drink the 'lemonade'
09/11/01: Sudan envoy an exercise in futility?
09/05/01: Strategy of a thousand cuts
08/28/01: Rummy's back
08/21/01: Prepare for 'two wars'
08/14/01: Why does the Bush Administration make a moral equivalence between terrorist attacks and Israel's restrained defensive responses?
08/07/01: A New bipartisanship in security policy?
07/31/01: Don't go there
07/17/01: The 'end of the beginning'
07/10/01: Testing President Bush
07/03/01: Market transparency works
06/27/01: Which Bush will it be on missile defense?
06/19/01: Don't politicize military matters
06/05/01: It's called leadership
06/05/01: With friends like these ...
05/31/01: Which way on missile defense?
05/23/01: Pearl Harbor, all over again
05/15/01: A tale of two Horatios
05/08/01: The real debate about missile defense
04/24/01: Sell aegis ships to Taiwan
04/17/01: The 'hi-tech for China' bill
04/10/01: Deal on China's hostages -- then what?
04/03/01: Defense fire sale redux
03/28/01: The defense we need
03/21/01: Critical mass
03/13/01: The Bush doctrine
03/08/01: Self-Deterred from Defending America
02/27/01: Truth and consequences for Saddam
02/21/01: Defense fire sale
02/13/01: Dubya's Marshall Plan
02/05/01: Doing the right thing on an 'Arab-Arab dispute'
01/30/01: The missile defense decision
01/23/01: The Osprey as Phoenix
01/17/01: Clinton's Parting Shot at Religious Freedom
01/09/01: Wake-up call on space
01/02/01: Secretary Rumsfeld
12/27/00: Redefining our Ukraine policy
12/19/00: Deploy missile defense now
12/12/00: Sabotaging space power
12/05/00: Preempting Bush
11/28/00: What Clinton hath wrought
11/21/00: HE'S BAAAACK
11/14/00: The world won't wait

© 2001, Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.