I was invited by the Center for Security Policy to give a speech at the National Press Club in Washington yesterday. The topic was our government’s relations with the Muslim Brotherhood and why concerns about Brotherhood infiltration, raised by five conservative House members, are very real. The speech ran nearly an hour, and there was a little over a half-hour of Q&A afterwards. The event was carried by CSPAN, and for those interested, the link is here. Below is the prepared text of my speech:
Imagine, if you will, the following scenario.
A candidate for a high position in an executive branch agency — a position that entails a great deal of influence over public policy, a position that requires access to highly classified national security information — comes in for an interview by the FBI.
This is a routine background investigation. Even people being considered for low-level positions in the executive branch are subjected to them. It is not because we question their patriotism or suspect that they are bad people. It is just common sense — in addition to being the subject of a good deal of statutory law and federal regulation.
Naturally, as government positions get higher, more important, and more sensitive, the background investigations get more detailed — probing not only a candidate’s background, experiences, finances and associations, but those of the candidate’s close family members.
One matter that is of particular importance is connections to foreign countries, organizations, persons and movements. There’s an entire section devoted to these concerns in Form 86, the form that all candidates for national security positions in the federal government are required to complete.
Let’s assume that our candidate truthfully completes the form. What do you suppose our FBI agent is thinking as he flips through the form, asks some follow up questions, and gets the following story from the candidate:
“I’ve worked the last dozen years at an institute that was founded by a wealthy, influential Saudi who is intimately involved in the financing of terrorism.”
“Are you just speculating about that?” the candidate is asked.
“Speculating? Oh, no, no, I’m not speculating. You see, this Saudi guy actually started an ostensible ‘charity’ that the United States government has designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. It is a designated terrorist because it lavishly funded al Qaeda — you know, the jihadist network that we’re at war with. As a matter of fact, one of the men this Saudi guy brought in to help him run the specially designated terrorist organization, was so close to Osama bin Laden, that he actually helped bin Laden start al Qaeda.”
The agent figures, “You’ve got to be kidding me. I guess you didn’t know this Saudi guy who was funding al Qaeda, right?”
“Well,” our candidate responds, “as a matter of fact, we overlapped for seven years at that institute I worked at. Remember I told you that he’s the one who started it and I eventually worked there for twelve years? Well, turns out he stayed involved in it for decades — it was his baby … he gave the institution its mission and its vision. He was still there advising it and shaping it for my first seven years there. Then they took him off the masthead … right around the time he became a defendant in the civil lawsuit filed by the victims of the 9/11 attacks.”
The agent is stunned. All he can think to ask is: “Why did you leave the institute?”
“Oh,” our candidate replies, “I got offered a full-time job at the State Department, helping the secretary of State make U.S. foreign policy.”
I really wish that was a farfetched story.
Now let me back up for a moment. First, thank you all for coming here today.
I came to Washington at the suggestion of my friends at the Center for Security Policy. They asked me to address the controversy stirred by five conservative members of the House of Representatives who’ve raised concerns about Islamist influence on American policy — specifically, the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamist governments, organizations and affiliates with which it works.