Senator John McCain’s claim that concerns about Huma Abedin are a smear based on “a few unspecified and unsubstantiated associations” proves more embarrassing by the day. In fact, to the extent it addressed Ms. Abedin, the letter sent to the State Department’s inspector general by five House conservatives actually understated the case.
The letter averred that Abedin “has three family members — her late father, her mother and her brother — connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations.” It turns out, however, that Abedin herself is directly connected to Abdullah Omar Naseef, a major Muslim Brotherhood figure involved in the financing of al-Qaeda. Abedin worked for a number of years at the Institute for Muslim Minority Affairs as assistant editor of its journal. The IMMA was founded by Naseef, who remained active in it for decades, overlapping for several years with Abedin. Naseef was also secretary general of the Muslim World League in Saudi Arabia, perhaps the most significant Muslim Brotherhood organization in the world. In that connection, he founded the Rabita Trust, which is formally designated as a foreign terrorist organization under American law due to its support of al-Qaeda.
You ought to be able to stop right there.
A person is not required to have done anything wrong to be denied a high-ranking government position, or more immediately, the security clearance allowing access to classified information that is necessary to function in such a job. There simply need be associations, allegiances, or interests that establish a potential conflict of interest.
Government jobs and access to the nation’s secrets are privileges, not rights. That is why the potential conflict needn’t stem from one’s own associations with hostile foreign countries, organizations, or persons. Vicarious associations, such as one’s parents’ connections to troublesome persons and organizations, are sufficient to create a potential conflict.
In this instance, however, before you even start probing the extensive, disturbing Brotherhood ties of her family members, Huma Abedin should have been ineligible for any significant government position based on her own personal and longstanding connection to Naseef’s organization.
Specifically, Ms. Abedeen was affiliated with the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs, where she was assistant editor of the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs. The journal was the IMMA’s raison d’etre. Abedin held the position of assistant editor from 1996 through 2008 — from when she began working as an intern in the Clinton White House until shortly before she took her current position as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff.