Bachmann vs. State

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Everyone’s talking about the letters Rep. Bachmann and four of her colleagues wrote to the administration, the one demanding an investigation of alleged Muslim Brotherhood penetration of the administration. Most of the attention has gone to their letter to the State Department. Not many people seem to have read it.

Here’s the first sentence of the letter to the inspector general at State: “As you may know, information has recently come to light that raises serious questions about Department of State policies and activities that appear to be a result of influence operations conducted by individuals and organizations associated with the Muslim Brotherhood.” What the congressmen are saying, in other words, is: As far as we can tell, the Muslim Brotherhood is manipulating the State Department into doing its bidding.

That’s a very strong charge. It goes much further than noting that Huma Abedin has family ties to the Brotherhood and asking how she got her security clearance. It goes further than arguing that our foreign policies are inadvertently playing into the hands of the Brotherhood. It goes further than doing both of those things together.

The only pieces of evidence the letter provides for this strong charge are that the administration has taken five steps that the congressmen consider favorable to the Muslim Brotherhood and that Abedin has family ties to it. It does not consider whether there are other explanations for those steps, even though these explanations are in each case obvious. (One might well disagree with aid to the Palestinian Authority, for example, without thinking it happened because of the influence of the Brotherhood.)

The letter hints that Abedin is not the only State Department official with Brotherhood ties, but does not offer any evidence of that either. It says that “the apparent involvement of those with such ties raises serious security concerns that warrant. . . urgent attention.” It then discusses Abedin “[f]or example”—wording that implies that the congressmen have other examples to hand which they are too discreet to cite.

Unless the congressmen have more information than they put in the letter — and the letter itself does not say they do have more — they have not made the case for an investigation.