Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and a few of her colleagues aren't letting go of her insistence that the Muslim Brotherhood could be infiltrating the U.S. government, even after Arizona Sen. John McCain's impassioned floor speech where he dismissed Bachmann's suspicions as "specious and degrading."
"When anyone, not least a member of Congress, launches specious and degrading attacks against fellow Americans on the basis of nothing more than fear of who they are and ignorance of what they stand for, it defames the spirit of our nation," McCain said.
The flap began after Bachmann and Republican colleagues Arizona Rep. Trent Franks, Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert, Florida Rep. Tom Rooney and Georgia Rep. Lynn Westmoreland sent letters to several inspector generals in the State Department, Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice and the Office of National Intelligence as to whether the Muslim Brotherhood could be infiltrating the U.S. government. The letters quickly attracted attention with one specifically mentioning the State Department's Deputy Chief of Staff, Huma Abedin, a long-time Hillary Clinton aide, by name.
Bachmann's letter says "Huma Abedin has three family members — her late father, her mother and her brother-conected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives or organizations.
The letter continues to insinuate that those connections have led the State Department to act favorably toward the "Muslim Brotherhood and its interests." Bachmann insists that she's onto something and dug in her heels late Wednesday stating "I encourage everyone, including media outlets, to read [the letters] in their entirety. The intention of the letters was to outline the serious national security concerns I had and ask for answers to questions regarding the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical group's access to top Obama administration officials." [See a collection of political cartoons on the Republican Party.]
On Thursday, Congressman Rooney also stood his ground.
"As a member of the House Armed Services and Intelligence Committees, my top priority is ensuring the security of our nation. The tragic events at Fort Hood in 2009 proved that our enemies will go to great lengths, including infiltrating and recruiting members of our military, to commit acts of terror against American citizens," Rooney said in an E-mailed statement. "I regret that Mrs. Abedin has become the media focus of this story, because the intention of the letters was to bring greater attention to a legitimate national security risk."
Corey Saylor, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, says this is as close to a McCarthy-era witch hunt as he's seen. "It causes deep concern to anyone that a member of Congress would advance this kind of conspiracy theory especially one who is on as sensitive a committee as the intelligence committee," Saylor says. "If this were a legitimate concern she would have gone to the authorities, not sent out a press release."
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