Ronald Kessler reporting from Washington, D.C. —
Rep. Michele Bachmann’s claim that an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could be connected to the Muslim Brotherhood is “morally wrong” and undermines the war on terror, former FBI Director William Webster tells Newsmax.
Because several living or deceased family members of Huma Abedin, Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, have connections to the Muslim Brotherhood or its operatives, Bachmann and four other Republican House members asked the departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security and the State Department to investigate whether the U.S. government is being infiltrated by Muslim extremists.
“This is unfair, counterproductive, and it’s probably, in some respects, illegal or tortuous to be saying those things,” Webster says. “But more importantly, it gets in the way of our being able to prevent terrorist acts from happening.”
Webster notes that as part of a background investigation to obtain a top-secret security clearance, the FBI would have looked into any questionable tie.
“This is unfortunate because we’re trying to build relationships with Muslims now in order to be sure that their good citizens help us in keeping terrorist attacks from happening,” Webster says. “We need the people who are most likely to know about a plot in time to do us some good, and they are often the people that will be blackened because of their religion or ethnicity.”
Webster compares Bachmann’s comment to President Roosevelt’s order to imprison innocent Japanese-Americans in internment camps during World War II. The former FBI director points out that many public figures have relatives who are convicted criminals or connected with a questionable group. That does not mean they condone their actions or support them.
A Muslim, Abedin is married to former Rep. Anthony Weiner, who is Jewish and strongly pro-Israel. She is well-liked and admired by Republicans and Democrats alike in Washington.
Top Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner, Sen. John McCain, Sen. Marco Rubio, and House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Rogers, have publicly criticized Bachmann’s comments. But Webster is the most authoritative figure to do so.
As noted in my book “The Secrets of the FBI,” Webster, a former federal judge and U.S. Attorney, appointed FBI agents to develop sophisticated techniques to combat spying. Under Webster, the focus of the bureau’s Intelligence Division shifted from pursuing assorted anti-war protesters and former Communists to chasing real spies from other nations and the American traitors who helped them.
Instead of merely conducting surveillance of KGB officers assigned to the U.S. as diplomats, the FBI took what it likes to call a proactive approach. The FBI operated double agents to eat up KGB officers' time, learn what they were after, and eventually help expel them.
After stepping down as FBI director, Webster was appointed by President Reagan to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency, where he restored the credibility of the agency after missteps by William Casey. Earlier this month, Webster issued a report detailing FBI failures in tracking Nidal Hasan’s activities before he began a shooting spree that killed 13 people at Fort Hood.
After Bachmann’s comments in a letter and on a radio show, Ed Rollins, who worked on behalf of Bachmann’s presidential campaign, posted an op-ed on Fox News’ website comparing her allegations to the conspiracy theories of former Sen. Joseph McCarthy.
“The Republican Party, which John McCain led as our nominee in 2008, is going to become irrelevant if we become the party of intolerance and hate,” Rollins wrote. “The party founded by Abraham Lincoln was a party that fought slavery and intolerance at every level.”
McCain took to the Senate floor to defend Abedin.
“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 for what they stand for,” the senator said, “it defames the spirit of our nation and we all grow poorer because of it.”
Boehner warned that lawmakers shouldn’t make such serious allegations without anything to back them up.
“From everything that I do know of [Abedin], she has a sterling character, and I think accusations like this being thrown around are pretty dangerous,” the House speaker said.
As noted in my story, "Edwin Meese Condemns Prejudice Against Muslims,"
President Reagan’s attorney general has also denounced unsupported allegations against patriotic Americans who are Muslims.
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. He is the New York Times best-selling author of books on the Secret Service, FBI, and CIA. Read more reports from Ronald Kessler — Click Here Now.
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