Kent Clizbe has a warning for voters in the primary Tuesday to fill the Virginia House of Delegates' newly created 87th District seat in Loudoun County: Caveat emptor - let the buyer or, in this case, the electorate, beware.
That is sound advice under all circumstances in a democracy like ours. Mr. Clizbe feels a particular concern, however, about the lack of proper vetting of one of the candidates for the Republican nomination, David Ramadan. An interview he conducted in person with Mr. Ramadan a few weeks ago, which was chronicled in a report he posted at BigPeace.com, only reinforced the sense that the candidate may be hiding facts about his personal history, associations and agenda that would be disqualifying if publicly known.
Kent Clizbe has considerable expertise with respect to the need for and techniques involved in such vetting. He was a case officer for the CIA in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Africa and Europe in the 1990s, a position that required exacting care in selecting and recruiting foreigners as agents and sources. After he left the agency's clandestine service, he returned as a contractor to help with counterterrorism-related matters, earning the Intelligence Community Seal Medallion, its highest decoration for such non-employee personnel. In addition, Mr. Clizbe has employed his vetting skills in the private sector, working as a professional headhunter.
Of particular relevance, Mr. Clizbe literally wrote the book on foreign intelligence operations: "Willing Accomplices: How KGB Covert Influence Agents Created Political Correctness, Obama's Hate-America-First Political Platform, and Destroyed America."
Interestingly, Mr. Clizbe is also a Muslim convert. That makes it hard to dismiss with the usual ad hominem charges of racism, bigotry and Islamophobia the questions he says must be asked of Lebanon-born Imad Afif "David" Ramadan before that candidate is given a mandate to represent the people of Virginia's 87th District. These questions involve, among other issues, the nature of his relationship, if any, to his father-in-law by his first marriage, Abdul Rahman Zoghbi, reportedly a Shiite Muslim general in one of the Lebanese intelligence services reportedly close to Syria and Hezbollah, and the as-yet-undisclosed sources of his wealth.
Mr. Ramadan's lack of transparency on these and related points is made more troubling by two other facts. First, his was the first name on a letter published in the New York Times a year ago in the midst of the controversy over the construction of a megamosque adjacent to the site of the destroyed World Trade Center in New York. The joint letter's signatories - all self-described Arab or Muslim Republicans - issued a strong rebuke to conservatives who were objecting to this initiative. Yet today, candidate Ramadan denies having supported the Ground Zero mosque. It reminds me of the Groucho Marx line: "Who are you going to believe - me or your lying eyes?"
Second, Mr. Ramadan has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republican politicians and organizations in the state and beyond, presumably to position himself to secure this seat in the Virginia House. Of course, this is hardly the first time someone has effectively purchased access. If Mr. Clizbe's concerns are justified, however, this access may be an instance in which donations of uncertain provenance have facilitated a potentially hostile influence operation.
In his account of the interview with Mr. Ramadan - which begins with the tale of how the candidate arrived early and then absented himself in the bathroom for 15 minutes until supporters arrived - Mr. Clizbe writes: "In essence, Ramadan practiced the tactics that I recognize well from interviewing candidates and agents. The tactics also are practiced by covert-action operators around the world when their misdeeds are uncovered: Admit nothing. Deny everything. Make counteraccusations (or 'andemca')."
Mr. Clizbe concluded: "I am an expert at detecting deception. One of the signs of lying is attacking a questioner. This is a favorite tactic of Politically Correct-Progressives. Imad ('David') Ramadan demonstrated this tactic when I tried to ask him questions in person. Imad apparently had something to hide because he made wild accusations and refused to carry on a conversation."
As we are seeing play out in the Middle East at the hands of Islamists of various stripes, democracy is no guarantee against people who are hostile to it - some of whom are perfectly capable of concealing that hostility to advance their purposes. For example, a few years back, we witnessed a Shariah-adherent terrorist organization, Hamas, come to power in Gaza by virtue of being the most organized, disciplined and ruthless party in elections there. The same is likely to happen in Egypt this fall and perhaps elsewhere in the region.
The people of Loudoun County - and the American people more generally - need to be alert to the possibility that in the absence of proper vetting, they may unwittingly elect candidates who are not what they appear to be.
Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is a columnist for The Washington Times and host of the nationally syndicated program "Secure Freedom Radio," heard in Washington weeknights at 9 on WRC, 1260-AM.
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