McCain defends Clinton aide against ‘unfounded attack’ by Rooney, Bachmannby George Bennett | July 18th, 2012
UPDATED with Rooney response after the jump…
U.S. Sen. John McCain took to the floor of the Senate today to blast suggestions by U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta, and four other House Republicans that a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Without mentioning Rooney or his colleagues by name, McCain slammed the “specious and degrading attacks” against Huma Abedin, who is Clinton’s deputy chief of staff and is also the wife of former New York Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner.
Rooney last month joined an effort led by Minnesota Rep. and former GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann to seek investigations into “serious questions” about the Muslim Brotherhood’s influence in five federal entities that deal with national security.
Letters to the agencies were signed by Bachmann, Rooney and Republican Reps. Trent Franks of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas and Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia.
“The Muslim Brotherhood openly calls for violence against the United States, but we’re learning that this organization may be infiltrating our ranks, even within our military,” Rooney said in a June 13 press release when the letters were sent.
“We need our top security agencies to investigate thoroughly the degree to which members of this organization are active in our defense and intelligence communities, and what impact that has on our national security,” said Rooney, a member of the House Intelligence and Armed Services committees.
McCain took aim at the House members’ letter to the State Department’s deputy inspector general. That letter states that Abedin “has three family members — her late father, her mother and her brother — connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations.”
The letter goes on to note that the State Department has “taken actions recently that have been enormously favorable to the Muslim Brotherhood and its interests.”
The letter cites a report from the Center for Security Policy, a conservative think tank that frequently focuses on radical Islam and its influence.
McCain said in his Senate speech that while he has worked with the Center in the past, its report is “scurrilous” and filled with “sinister accusations” about Abedin.
“These allegations about Huma and the report from which they are drawn are nothing less than an unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable citizen, a dedicated American and a loyal public servant,” McCain said.
“The letter and the report offer not one instance of an action, a decision or a public position that Huma has taken while at the State Department or as a member of then-Sen. Clinton’s staff that would lend credence to the charge that she is promoting anti-American activities within our government.”
Rooney issued this response late today:
“As a member of the House Armed Services and Intelligence Committees, my top priority is ensuring the security of our nation. The tragic events at Fort Hood in 2009 proved that our enemies will go to great lengths, including infiltrating and recruiting members of our military, to commit acts of terror against American citizens. I regret that Mrs. Abedin has become the media focus of this story, because the intention of the letters was to bring greater attention to a legitimate national security risk.”
Bachmann issued a statement Wednesday saying the June 13 letters were being “distorted” and reiterating the demand for a probe of Muslim Brotherhood influence.
“The intention of the letters was to outline the serious national security concerns I had and ask for answers to questions regarding the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical group’s access to top Obama administration officials,” Bachmann said.
She cited the visit to the White House last month by an Egyptian lawmaker who is a member of a U.S.-designated terrorist group, calling it “the latest example of the dangerous national security decisions made by the Obama administration. I will not be silent as this administration appeases our enemies instead of telling the truth about the threats our country faces.”