Washington Prowler

Ramadan Season

The right of return, Obama style. Plus: Mitt without apology. Sunset for Dawn.

By 4.12.10


Some people who accuse former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and his retread 2012 Presidential campaign or being a bit phony may have a case. Not only did Romney and various political organizations he underwrites spend tens of thousands on bulk book sales to push his book, No Apology, onto the bestseller list, he loaned an organization, "Evangelicals for Mitt," which claims to have no direct ties to Romney, his political action committee's e-mail list so that the evangelical group could mount a straw poll campaign for him at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans.

Romney won the straw poll by a single vote over Rep. Ron Paul, who also subsidized a campaign at the conference. Romney supporters received free copies of his book, buttons, and bumper stickers in return for their votes. Some event organizers estimate he spend close to $15 per vote. "It's another Romney mirage," says a Republican political consultant who worked for Mike Huckabee in 2008. "The man simply believes he can buy his way to a nomination. I wonder why he isn't handing out free copies of that Romneycare health care plan he was so proud of three years ago."

Indiana University law professor and former Clinton Justice Department official Dawn Johnsen withdrew her nomination to head the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, in part because of ongoing claims that she had been participating in the hiring of staff attorneys for that office, even though she had not been approved for the post.

Those attorneys who had been hired had actively opposed the Bush Administration's anti-terrorism policies, and several of them had advocated on behalf of terrorists housed at Guantanamo or in legal briefs to overturn Bush policies. Both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees had looked into Johnsen's behind the scenes activities and had confirmed that she had participated in the hiring of at least one senior attorney for OLC, according to a Senate Judiciary Committee staffer.

The Obama Administration's has a number of projects in its ongoing outreach to Muslims both here in the U.S. and abroad; for almost a year, its "Global Engagement Directorate," run out of the White House National Security Council, has been scrubbing all references to "Islamic radicalism" from White House, NSA, State Department and Justice Department documents. The Administration is also allowing radical foreign academics, previously barred from entering the U.S., to speak and teach here, and finally, the administration, via its Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has put in place a policy to increase the number of non-Islamic foreigners to its consolidated watch list, which is managed by the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center, and which feeds into the "no-fly" and "selectee" lists.

Those targeted include non-Muslim Lebanese, particularly Maronite Christians, and non-Muslim Turks, Sudanese, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Indonesians, and Malaysians, among others.

The consolidated watch list currently has about 400,000 names, and according the TSA, about 97 percent of those names are foreigners. The no-fly list, which bars individuals from boarding U.S. bound or exiting flights, has about 6,000 names, while the selectee list, a list of more than 18,000 names, exposes travelers to extra screening at the airport.

"Doing this allows us to show the U.S. Muslim community, as well as governments with heavy Muslim populations that we aren't discriminating to profiling solely Muslims," says a Homeland Security staffer. "The agency wants us to get to a point where if Congress asks, we can provide an estimated breakdown and show that our lists are not the result of profiling a subset of travelers."

The irony -- at least in the case of targeting non-Muslim Lebanese, such as Maronites -- is that such groups were viewed by prior Administrations as important to keeping the country from falling completely under the sway of Syria, which had long used Lebanon to house its Hezbollah terrorist militia and to launch attacks against Israel.

"It's a different world now, and the old relationships don't count for much anymore," says a State Department source, who claimed not to be aware of the new screening process.

While the Obama Administration has made a point of encouraging its security agencies to stop Lebanese, Indonesian and even Greek travelers for expanded searches at airports and adding them to the "no fly" list, it is also doing what it can to welcome radical Muslims to the U.S.

Little noticed last week was the arrival in New York of Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss citizen and academic at Oxford University, who, the U.S. government alleged, financially supported military Islamic organizations. In 2004, before he was able to accept a tenured teaching post at the University of Notre Dame, the U.S. government revoked his visa and barred him from the U.S.

But earlier this year, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, on orders from the Obama White House, rescinded that order, and allowed Ramadan entry to the U.S. Ramadan celebrated his return to the U.S. by holding sway in New York's Cooper Union Hall, where he called on Muslims not to bother integrating with Western culture, and refused to condemn the views of his grandfather, Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the radical Muslim Brotherhood, who during World War II was aligned with Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, who supported the Nazi agenda and broadcast from Berlin proclamations calling on his Arab brethren to kill Jews. Ramadan's grandfather is credited as the key influencer of Sheikh al-Qaradawi, who appears regularly on Al Jazeera television, and who supports the killing of Jews and the destruction of Israel. 

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