The Washington Times - June 5, 2009, 12:19PM


So, the Obama Justice Department issued a press release Thursday, offering what can arguably be described as extra special protections for Muslim Americans. In part, the statement reads:


“We [Justice and President Obama] are committed to using criminal and civil rights laws to protect Muslim Americans.”

Color me naive but I thought all Americans are supposed to have their civil rights protected. OK, one might argue that this was simply done in conjunction with the president’s Cairo trip and is not out of the scope of the ordinary. Except that it is a first time the Obama Justice Department has done this for any religious group. And it begs the question do we now need special set aside categories of civil protections for certain religious groups? If so, which ones and why? Getting an answer to that and similar questions proved a lesson in futility. Gracious as they were to initially get back to me promptly, I tried getting a straight answer to these questions from the Justice Department’s Office of Public Affairs in order to caution myself against not reading too much into the statement. What I got was a volley of  “call ya backs” and “can’t go on the record” but will “get you answers,” along with an emailed “backgrounder” that describes the administration’s “ongoing efforts to protect American Muslims.” The two-pager listed some of the “notable” civil rights and criminal cases where Justice has intervened on behalf of the “7 million American Muslims living in the United States.” Still it tells nothing of how this is different than existing laws or guaranteed protections.

Furthermore, are they doing this for Jewish or Christian groups with similar complaints, I queried. Surely there are many complaints coming into Justice from these groups who would also like to have the same added assurances from Attorney General Eric Holder. Perhaps a similar backgrounder with accompanying statement could have been put together for the National Day of Prayer or for last weekend’s “Salute To Israel” in New York? No one from Justice “got back” to me before my stated deadline, although one public affairs staffer who was “not at liberty to go on the record” did confirm that this was a first of its kind statement coming from the administration as it relates to protecting people of faith.

-Tara Wall is a news anchor and political analyst at the Washington Times and editor of