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Politics at Justice

Politics at Justice

By Jack Kelly - February 24, 2010

Rashad Hussain, 31, is President Obama's choice to be the U.S. envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, an organization of 56 Islamic states that promotes Muslim solidarity in economic, social and political affairs.

A Muslim of Indian extraction born in Wyoming and a brilliant young attorney (BA from the University of North Carolina in two years; two masters degrees from Harvard, a law degree from Yale), Mr. Hussain would seem a fine choice for the post.

But there's a problem.

In 2004, Mr. Hussain made a speech at a Muslim Student Association conference in Chicago in which he said the trials of Sami al Arian and several others were "politically motivated persecutions."

Mr. al Arian, then a professor at the University of South Florida, was said by the Justice Department to be the head of U.S. operations for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which was designated a terrorist organization in 1997. After a trial in which Mr. al Arian was found not guilty on eight charges and the jury was hung on nine others, Mr. al Arian pled guilty in 2006 to one count of conspiracy and was sentenced to four years in prison.

Mr. Hussain's remarks were reported at the time by the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. But in February of last year -- about the time Mr. Hussain was named a deputy White House counsel -- they were deleted (without her knowledge) from the story on the conference written by Shereen Kandil.

When word of his remarks surfaced after his nomination as envoy to the OIC, Mr. Hussain initially said he had "no recollection" of having said any such thing. His memory improved after Josh Gerstein of the Politico uncovered a tape of his presentation at the conference.

"I made statements on that panel that I now recognize were ill-conceived and not well formulated," Mr. Hussain said after quotes from the recording were supplied to the White House. "The judicial process has now concluded, and I have full faith in its outcome."

The Muslim Student Association was founded by the Muslim Brotherhood in 1963. The Muslim Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in 1928, has the same goal as al Qaida (a world run by Sharia law), but professes the desire to achieve this goal by peaceful means.

This was not always so. The Muslim Brotherhood worked with the Nazis against the British in World War II, and it was six members of the Muslim Brotherhood who assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981. Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaida's number two, was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Whether their means be peaceful or not, the goals of the Muslim Brotherhood are antithetical to liberty and democratic pluralism.

In a May, 1991 memo, Mohamed Akram of the Muslim Brotherhood's Shura Council wrote: "the Ikhwan (brotherhood) must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western Civilization from within and ‘sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it's eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions."

Mr. Hussain has spoken at other conferences sponsored by affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood, most recently last May.

Mr. Hussain denounced U.S. prosecutions of suspected Islamic terrorists in remarks to an affiliate of an Islamic extremist organization. He then contrived to remove the record of his remarks, and initially lied when confronted about them. This may cause you or me to doubt his suitability to represent the United States to the Muslim world, but not President Obama.

"We continue to have confidence," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in response to a question about Mr. Hussain Monday.

Mr. Hussain may not be an Islamist. His friend, the staunch anti-Islamist terror researcher Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, insists he's just a John Kerry Democrat. But Mr. Hussain seems unclear on who the enemy is.

That confusion exists also in Eric Holder's Justice Department, which disclosed Friday that nine of Mr. Obama's appointees there used to be defense lawyers for terrorists incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay.

"It's like they're bringing al Qaida lawyers inside the Department of Justice," Debra Burlingame, whose brother was killed on 9/11, told the New York Post.

Jack Kelly is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio.

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