One other point on this. I wasn’t going to respond to Dana Milbank’s observations on my remark yesterday about Secretary of State Clinton’s visit to the college founded by Huma Abedin’s mother. But I did make an error about the location of the college, so I’ll correct the error and use that opportunity to make another point.
Mr. Milbank asked me for an example of Ms. Abedin’s influence. As I said when Senator McCain made this same frivolous point in his speech attacking the five House conservatives who’ve raised concerns about Muslim Brotherhood influence, Ms. Abedin is a top adviser to Secretary Clinton — she gives her advice privately and, unless either of them tells us about it, we have no idea what matters she is weighing in on. (We do know what the general trajectory of State Department policy is, and last I checked, Ms. Abedin hasn’t exactly resigned in protest.)
Yesterday, however, when pressed for an example by Milbank. I pointed to the fact that Secretary Clinton chose to visit Dar al-Hekma College. I regret to say that I misspoke about the college’s location — an error Milbank repeats in his column. I said it was in Egypt when, of course, it is in Saudi Arabia, where Dr. Saleha Abedin is based. I knew that, but I just blew it as we went back and forth.
Milbank somehow thinks he “crumbled” my case by pointing out that Bush State Department official Karen Hughes also visited Dar al-Hekma. It’s like an “A-ha!” moment for him, in that I agreed Ms. Hughes had done “her share” of what he called “the Muslim Brotherhood’s bidding.” His point, if I can follow this, is that the Obama State Department is only doing what the Bush State Department did; its policies can be of no concern since the Bush administration could not possibly have been abetting the Brotherhood. But anyone who has followed what I’ve been arguing here and elsewhere for years knows that I was extremely critical of the Bush administration’s outreach to the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates. Contrary to Milbank’s intimation, I was not making a partisan argument; I was making a national-security argument.
Putting aside Dr. Saleha Abedin’s other Brotherhood ties (which I’ve described at length), the “Establishers” of Dar al-Hekma College included Yasin Qadi, a specially designated global terrorist because of his support for al-Qaeda. (It also included two other reputed Saudi funders of Osama bin Laden, but whether they supported him after he founded al-Qaeda — as opposed to before, when he was fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan — is the subject of some dispute.) Given the college’s Brotherhood and terrorism ties, I think it was shameful for Karen Hughes to appear there as a representative of the U.S. government — just as it was shameful for her to appear at the 2005 convention of the Islamic Society of North America at a time when the Justice Department was citing ISNA as an unindicted coconspirator in the Holy Land Foundation Hamas-financing case. Even assuming Ms. Hughes was not adequately briefed beforehand, someone at the State Department must have known about the Justice Department’s overwhelming evidence of ISNA’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and facilitation of money transfers to Palestinian terrorists. And as Steve Emerson pointed out in congressional testimony, during Ms. Hughes’s watch, the State Department funded Islamists.
I really don’t see how conceding, as we often must concede, that Obama’s “Islamic outreach” just picks up from where Bush’s “Islamic outreach” left off — and goes way beyond — means my argument against Islamic outreach has “crumbled.”