A magician typically succeeds when the attention of the audience is diverted from his main activity onto some distraction. President Obama has raised this sort of deflection into a political art form.
Take, for example, the matter of revelations by five members of Congress and the Center for Security Policy that there appear to be a number individuals working for or with the Obama administration with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. The possibility that their influence may be helping to shape U.S. policy in ways that increasingly align it with the demands, ambitions and goals of the Brotherhood and other Islamists is a national security problem of the first order. That is especially true at a moment when the Muslim Brotherhood is consolidating its hold on power in Egypt with the cashiering of two top generals at the hands of the Brotherhood's newly elected president, Mohammed Morsi.
Yet, Team Obama and its allies in the mainstream media have aggressively worked to deflect the focus away from these realities. At first, they did so by viciously attacking Rep. Michele Bachmann -- even though she was just one of five legislators who asked for investigations into these seeming influence operations by inspectors general of five federal agencies.
Then they sought to portray as a victim of racism and bigotry just one of those about whom the members of Congress raised legitimate questions: Huma Abedin, the deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Journalists like CNN's Anderson Cooper repeated uncritically -- and unprofessionally -- assurances that there was no factual basis for linking Ms. Abedin to the Muslim Brotherhood. Where compelled to acknowledge that members of her family do have ties to Brotherhood-connected organizations, the administration and its allies denounced such concerns as "guilt by association" and "McCarthyism."
Then, former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy, former Muslim Brother Walid Shoebat and other researchers established a direct tie between Huma Abedin and a Muslim Brotherhood front, the Institute for Muslim Minority Affairs (IMMA). IMMA was established essentially as an Abedin family business by Abdullah Omar Naseef, an officially designated al Qaeda financier.
Shortly after IMMA was founded under his chairmanship, Naseef became the secretary-general of the Muslim World League (MWL), which Mr. McCarthy described in an Aug. 8 speech in Washington sponsored by the Center for Security Policy as "the Saudi-financed global propagation enterprise by which the Muslim Brotherhood's virulently anti-Western brand of Islamist ideology is seeded throughout the world, very much including in the United States."
It happens that Huma Abedin was listed for 12 years on the masthead of the IMMA's journal as an associate editor. For at least seven of those years, Omar Naseef was also listed as a member of the editorial advisory board.
In his remarks last week, Mr. McCarthy, a former chief assistant U.S. attorney, directly spoke to charges that Huma Abedin was being unfairly challenged by virtue of these various ties to the Muslim Brotherhood: "'Guilt by association' has nothing to do with fitness for high public office. High public office is a privilege, not a right. Access to classified information is a privilege, not a right. You need not have done anything wrong to be deemed unfit for these privileges."
Mr. McCarthy added pointedly: "It is not a question of your patriotism or your trustworthiness. It is about whether you would be burdened by such obvious conflicts of interest that you would be tempted to act on those interests, rather than in the best interests of the United States."
Nonetheless, two days later, the Deflector-in-Chief used the occasion of remarks at his fourth annual White House Iftar dinner -- a ceremony marking the breaking of the Ramadan fast -- to provide a shout-out to one of his guests, Huma Abedin. Mr. Obama pronounced: "Huma is an American patriot, and an example of what we need in this country -- more public servants with her sense of decency, her grace and her generosity of spirit. So, on behalf of all Americans, we thank you so much."
Nothing to see here folks; move along.
Not only does Ms. Abedin's relationship to the Muslim Brotherhood and involvement in policies favorable to its interests warrant close official scrutiny, there are at least six other individuals with Brotherhood ties whose involvement in Obama administration "Muslim outreach" or related policymaking also deserve investigation by the inspectors general and by Congress:
Rashad Hussain, special envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation
Dalia Mogahed, an adviser to President Obama
Mohamed Elibiary, a member of the Homeland Security Department's advisory council
Mohamed Magid, a member of the Homeland Security Department's Countering Violent Extremism Working Group
Louay Safi, until recently the credentialing authority for Muslim chaplains in the U.S. military and now a leader of the Brotherhood-dominated Syrian National Council
Kifah Mustapha, a Hamas fundraiser and graduate of the FBI's "Citizens Academy"
The American people are entitled to know who is shaping the policies that are increasingly empowering, enriching and emboldening the Muslim Brotherhood -- an organization sworn to our destruction. Under no circumstances should legitimate and well-grounded congressional requests for formal investigations be deflected, let alone suppressed.
The results of those investigations must be available to inform the critical choice American voters have to make this November. It just might make all the difference in the outcome -- which is presumably why the grand deflection is being pursued with such determination.
Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy (www.SecureFreedom.org), a columnist for The Washington Times and host of the nationally syndicated program Secure Freedom Radio, heard in Washington weeknights at 9:00 p.m. on WRC 1260 AM.
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