U.S. Republican Representatives Michele Bachmann (MN), Trent Franks (AZ), Louie Gohmert (TX), Thomas Rooney (FL) and Lynn Westmoreland (GA) are calling for an investigation of a "possible deep penetration of Muslim extremists in the U.S. government." CNN's Anderson Cooper investigated their claims in his "Keeping Them Honest" segment.
They point fingers at Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Deputy Chief of Staff, Huma Abedin, who they imply is working on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood, questioning how she got a security clearance. "They don't have any direct evidence," Cooper reported. "What they have are allegations of past connections of relatives of hers that are tenuous, at best."
Rep. Keith Ellison has called for evidence. Bachmann provided a 16-page report to him that Cooper summarized: "Huma Abedin, whose deceased father, who started an organization decades ago, had the support of a guy who had another organization that might have had the support of another organization, the Muslim Brotherhood. And because of that, Huma Abedin might be some sort of spy or infiltrator and deserves to be investigated."
Zack Beauchamp at Think Progress reports that Bachmann's conspiratorial allegations may have prompted Egyptian protesters to throw shoes and tomatoes at Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's motorcade in Alexandria this week. "Bachmann's ludicrous allegation that the Muslim Brotherhood has 'penetrated' the United States government convinced anti-Islamist Egyptians that the U.S. is backing their domestic Islamist opponents," Beauchamp observed. "The source for Bachmann's ravings is Frank Gaffney, a conspiracy theorist who claims that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the government and that shari'a law is coming to the U.S."
Cooper points out that the Southern Poverty Law Center characterized Gaffney as "the anti-Muslim movement's most paranoid propagandist." In December, Gaffney's Center for Security Policy signed a "declaration" with a number of religious right groups and Republican members of Congress pledging to "stand in solidarity" with various anti-gay hate groups identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Rep. Louie Gohmert has also been involved in promoting Islamophobic conspiracies, such as "the terror baby conspiracy" back in 2010. He claimed that pregnant foreigners were coming to America to give birth to babies who would have U.S. citizenship under the 14th Amendment. These babies would be raised in the Middle East and trained as terrorists, and then would return to the U.S. Gohmert was unable to produce evidence of his claim, and the FBI verified with Cooper that there was no credible evidence for the terror baby conspiracy.
Rep. Keith Ellison (MN), a Democrat who is the first Muslim elected to Congress, says that the five Congressperson's allegations are nothing but scaremongering. As to Bachmann's 16 pages of "evidence," he said, "It's 16 pages worth of nothing. It is 16 pages of repeated, false allegations, 16 pages of nonsense." Ellison firmly believes that the sources of legitimate threats should be investigated, regardless of their religion or race. "If they are a legitimate threat to the U.S., by all means, investigate them. But in this case, there is none that I've ever seen."
As to Bachmann's claims about Huma Abedin possibly being a spy or infiltrator for the Muslim Brotherhood, Ellison said it is "the worst of guilt by association. It is a stark affront to American values about treating people for what they did and how they behaved themselves, not trying to attribute some other people's behavior to the individual. I think it's really reprehensible."
Recalling McCarthy's "UnAmerican Activities" investigations of supposed Communists, Ellison said that good people need to stand up and fight against this type of thing.
In the name of "religious liberty," Bachmann had signed a pledge while on her presidential campaign trail to "form a presidential commission to investigate harassment of traditional marriage supporters." Trent Franks declares on his website, "I believe the issue of religious liberty is a fundamental principle woven into the very fabric of our Republic, and I will continue to support policies that protect the right of individuals in America and throughout the world to exercise that freedom." Louie Gohmert, opposing hate crimes legislation, held a "religious freedom" conference in opposition to H.R. 1913. Opposing the health care mandate, Thomas Rooney declared his support for religious liberty. Lynn Westmoreland has declared that President Obama and Congressional Democrats have "trampled on your religious liberty" by supporting abortion. The list of examples of "religious liberty" statements by the five congresspersons behind the demand for an investigation of Muslims goes on and on — indicating that "religious liberty" for them does not apply to Muslim Americans, but applies only for conservative Christians who oppose reproductive choice, gay rights and the right to worship or not worship as one sees fit in America.