Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann has been acting even nuttier than usual over the past few weeks, and — judging by the outraged reactions of her fellow Republicans — her latest wild accusation may have finally gone too far.
Bachmann has spent much of the past several weeks peddling the conspiracy theory that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the U.S. government.
“It appears that there has been deep penetration in the halls of our United States government by the Muslim Brotherhood,” Bachmann said in a late June interview with the American Family Association’s Sandy Rios. “It appears that there are individuals who are associated with the Muslim Brotherhood who have positions, very sensitive positions, in our Department of Justice, our Department of Homeland Security, potentially even in the National Intelligence Agency.”
Soon after she made that claim, Bachmann and four of her Republican colleagues — Reps. Trent Franks, Louie Gohmert, Thomas Rooney, and Lynn Westmoreland — sent letters to five government agencies demanding that they investigate the Muslim Brotherhood’s “deep penetration” into the government.
Bachmann’s letter signled out Huma Abedin — a deputy chief of staff for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (and the wife of former Rep. Anthony Weiner, who is staunchly pro-Israel) — accusing her of conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood.
This outlandish claim offended Keith Ellison, a Democratic Rep. from Minnesota who is also a practicing Muslim.
“If she has sources for this type of information, she owes it to the country to reveal them to the proper authorities, but definitely not this way,” Ellison said. “If she doesn’t have this type of information, she should not be whipping up fear and hysteria about a very important matter.”
Over the weekend, Bachmann responded with a 16 page letter to Ellison which doubled down on her McCarthy-esque suspicion of Abedin.
Salon’s Alex Seitz-Wald reports:
As evidence, she pointed to Abedin’s late father, Professor Syed Z. Abedin, and a 2002 Brigham Young University Law Review article about his work. Bachmann points to a passage saying Abedin founded an organization that received the “quiet but active support” of the the former director of the Muslim World League, an international NGO that was tied to the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe in the 1970s through 1990s. So, to connect Abedin to the Muslim Brotherhood, you have to go through her dead father, to the organization he founded, to a man who allegedly supported it, to the organization that man used to lead, to Europe in the 1970s and 1990s, and finally to the Brotherhood.
That absurd claim went too far even for members of Bachmann’s own party. An outraged Arizona Senator John McCain took to the Senate floor today to defend Abedin against Bachmann’s “sinister accusations.”
“I know Huma to be an intelligent, upstanding, hard-working, and loyal servant of our country and our government, who has devoted countless days of her life to advancing the ideals of the nation she loves and looking after its most precious interests,” McCain said.
“To say that the accusations made in both documents are not substantiated by the evidence they offer is to be overly polite and diplomatic about it,” he continued. “It is far better, and more accurate, to talk straight: 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.”
“These attacks on Huma have no logic, no basis, and no merit,” McCain added. “And they need to stop now.”
Similarly, Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown tweeted:
Rep. Bachmann’s accusations about Sec. Clinton aide Huma Abedin are out-of-line. This kind of rhetoric has no place in our public discourse
— Scott P. Brown(@ScottBrownMA) July 18, 2012
Even Bachmann’s former campaign chief is fed up with her act. Ed Rollins, who ran Bachmann’s 2012 run for the White House, wrote a scathing op-ed for Fox News, ripping Bachmann’s wild claims.
“Having worked for Congressman Bachman’s campaign for president, I am fully aware that she sometimes has difficulty with her facts, but this is downright vicious and reaches the late Senator Joe McCarthy level,” Rollins wrote. “Shame on you Michele!”
While it is refreshing to see politicians on both sides of the aisle speak out against Bachmann, it is important to note that Bachmann’s conspiracies have had a tangible international impact. During Secretary Clinton’s recent visit to Egypt, she was met by angry protesters — many of whom were motivated by a belief that “that the Obama Administration is pursuing a closeted pro-Muslim agenda,” a theory that tricked down from Bachmann’s nutty brain, to conservative bloggers, to a global audience
Indeed, there are real consequences to Bachmann’s rantings, and unless she gives up her stupid conspiracy theories she should certainly be stripped of her position on the critical House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.