Amine El Khalifi, the Virginia man arrested by FBI agents as he approached the U.S. Capitol building with what he believed was a bomb, pleaded guilty to one count of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction on Friday.
Under his plea agreement, federal prosecutors will recommend a sentence of between 25 and 30 years in prison when he is sentenced on Sept. 14.
The undercover operation unfolded in January 2011 when a source told the FBI that El Khalifi met with a number of individuals at a home in Arlington, VA and said he believed the "war on terrorism" was a "war on Muslims."
El Khalifi, an illegal immigrant from Morocco, was later introduced by a man he knew as "Hussien" to an undercover FBI agent known as "Yusuf." During the course of the investigation, El Khalifi visited a quarry in West Virginia and dialed a cell phone he thought would set off a bomb similar to the one he thought he would be using in his planned attack on the Capitol.
As TPM reported after his arrest in February, El Khalifi switched his target several times during the course of the undercover operation:
An affidavit from an FBI agent filed in federal court Friday says that Amine El Khalifi planned to explode a bomb at an office building in Alexandria that contained military offices, then wanted to attack a synagogue, then decided to target an Army general, then a government building, then a restaurant next to that building because it was frequented by military officials.
Later on -- after El Khalifi had purchased nails, glue and cell phones for use in what he thought was an separate planned al-Qaeda attack against a military installation -- he decided that he'd rather go on a "suicide/martyrdom operation in which he would blow himself up in the United States Capitol Building," according to an FBI affidavit.
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On his show this Wednesday night, Bill O'Reilly once again showed just how hypocritical Fox News is with this bit where he was complaining about MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell taking Mitt Romney out of context and carrying on about how terrible it was that nothing could be done about cable news organizations showing their biases. Then he turns right around and does the same thing himself to Melissa Harris-Perry.
O'Reilly brought in Fox Democrat Lanny Davis, who calls himself a liberal and a progressive when he's neither, who has teamed up with former RNC chair Michael Steele in forming some new lobbying/media/consulting shop, Purple Nation Solutions, and who have apparently already achieved half of their goal, which is to get as much air time as possible and spout more Villager conventional wisdom, fake centrist, can't we all get along, inside the Beltway clap trap about "both sides" being equally at fault for the gridlock in Washington and to give the Republican Party cover for losing its damned mind and being taken over by the Grover Norquist, Libertarian, birther, Evangelical, teabagger, extremist wings of the party, which now controls all of them and their agenda.
O'Reilly started out the segment complaining about MSNBC taking Mitt Romney out of context on Andrea Mitchell's show which we posted as well. As I noted in an update to the post, Romney was taken out of context by Mitchell and her staff, but I don't think the editing necessarily did him any great favors, since the part that was left out didn't make him look much better than them trying to paint him as out-of-touch for his comments. Lanny Davis took up for Mitchell, saying he didn't think she realized the clip was edited and I actually have to agree with him. I've got issues with Mrs. Greenspan and her reporting, but making a habit out of showing highly edited videos on a regular basis is not one of them. In all of the time I've been monitoring media for this site and her show, I have never seen another incident where they did something like Mitchell did this week. We made the mistake of trusting her staff with the video used in the post and I expect she did as well. I can't say the same, however, for Fox. They do this sort of thing day in and day out.
Just to prove our point, that's exactly what Bill O'Reilly did immediately after he got done complaining to fake liberal Lanny Davis about Mitchell, then moved on to taking MSNBC weekend host, Melissa Harris-Perry out of context when he showed part of her speech at Campaign for America's Future's conference this week.
Media Matters has more on that: O'Reilly Tries To Grasp Complex Argument From Melissa Harris-Perry, Fails:
Every year, the progressive group Campaign for America's Future hosts a conference called Take Back the American Dream. At this year's event, held this week in Washington, MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry gave a speech about the "choices that we, as ordinary citizens and Americans, made" over the past decade. One part of the speech dealt with the effects of the September 11 attacks on policymaking and how fear motivated many of the actions that the government took.
On his June 20 Fox News show, Bill O'Reilly attacked Harris-Perry over this section of the speech, claiming she said that "we, the United States, are racists because we defended ourselves against radical Islam after 9/11."
It is a huge stretch to read that into what she said.
Just go read the rest since I don't want to just re-post it here. Bottom line is O'Reilly left out the next portion of her speech which would have put it in context for his viewers. Apparently, he was too busy complaining about Andrea Mitchell and her staff doing the same thing to notice, or he's a huge flaming hypocrite. We report, you decide.
And if Bill-O and the rest of our media wants to bring someone on who pretends he's a liberal or anyone that most rank and file members of the Democratic Party want representing them, he's got a lot of better choices out there than Lanny Davis who Rachel Maddow slammed here: American Politicos Sell Clout to Scuzzy Dictators and who as she noted The New York Times reported on here: Lobbyist?s Client List Puts Him on the Defensive:
After decades of work for some of this country?s most powerful lobbying firms, Lanny J. Davis, the lawyer who once helped defend President Bill Clinton from impeachment, is suddenly scrambling to defend himself.
Since leaving the White House, Mr. Davis has built a client list that now includes coup supporters in Honduras, a dictator in Equatorial Guinea, for-profit colleges accused of exploiting students, and a company that dominates the manufacture of additives for infant formula. This month, he agreed to represent the Ivory Coast strongman whose claims to that country?s presidency have been condemned by the international community and may even set off a civil war.
Mr. Davis withdrew from his $100,000-a-month contract with the Ivory Coast on Wednesday night, saying that the embattled government refused to accept his suggestion to talk to President Obama. Still, his role in West Africa has stoked growing criticism that Mr. Davis has become a kind of front man for the dark side, willing to take on some of the world?s least noble companies and causes.
Many lobbying firms have clients with checkered records. Indeed, those are the people who need help the most in Washington. But many activists ? and even some government officials ? said the list of clients in Mr. Davis?s firm stood out.
?You look at who he represents, and the list is just almost unseemly, tawdry,? said Meredith McGehee, a lobbyist for California WIC Association, which represents agencies that serve poor women with infant children, and who faced off against Mr. Davis this year in the fight over baby formula, which his client won. ?It is an illustration of what most of the American people think of as wrong with Washington.?
Bill O'Reilly and the rest of the media can leave this sleazebag off of the list of "liberals" or "progressives" or anyone else that's supposed to speak for the left, thank you. He's an opportunist of the highest order looking to line his pockets and he does not speak for me or the majority of the party. That won't stop the media from constantly putting him on the air as though he does now that he's teamed up with Steele, who I'd also happily go without seeing another single interview with him for as long as I live. Steele has just as much now to add to any political discussion as he did as an empty suit for the RNC.
Gallup: 34% identify Obama as Christian; 11% as Muslim. [...]
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All that free energy flowing over the seas, it’s time to re-visit ancient technology…
Yes, this ?futuristic? vessel, as CleanTechnica describes it, would sport giant vertical beams outfitted with humongous cloth wind-catching devices, known as ?sails.? It must be said that these elaborate mechanisms look rather ungainly, and skeptics might wonder whether an energy source as unreliable as the breeze could ever actually power something as bulky as a seafaring craft.
But just imagine if it worked! ?If it proves successful,? the blog enthuses, ?the new B9 cargo ship could usher in a new era of fossil fuel-free technology at a critical time for the shipping industry.?
The whole notion sounded almost too ingenious to be true. So I called up the good folks at B9 Energy Group to make sure this wasn?t some kind of a hoax.
Not at all, managing director David Surplus assured me. Applying wind power to ships might sound far-fetched today, but if oil prices keep rising, it might well make economic sense in the not-too-distant future.
What makes economic sense is to start with that politically incorrect word, ‘conservation’. Add smarter use and multiple, local power sources and we might someday have a few ‘small oil’ corporations running honest business instead of Big Oil trying to run our country.
Via Buzzfeed, an invitation:Save on the couples rate. Of course, by "You are cordially invited" he means "You are not cordially invited." Another example of the 180 Tell. You are not even uncordially invited. You can't even get into the neighborhood. This is the neighborhood. Yes, you counted the number of tennis courts correctly.GPTo follow or send links:...
In her new-- first , in fact-- television ad, Rep. Tammy Baldwin, a fair trade (as opposed to "free" trade) advocate has been reported to have gone after China. But that isn't really the point of her ad. True, China helped finance, the Republican takeover of Congress in 2010-- and especially helped the China-advocate who beat Russ Feingold, Ron Johnson. But behind Tammy's ad makes a much more important point about the corporate trade agreements conservatives support that are devastating the American middle class. She's always had a lot to say about well-paying jobs. It explains, in part, why's she's one of only three people running for the Senate being supported by Blue America this year. Last night she told me that "Protecting the future of Wisconsin's middle class goes hand-in-hand with protecting our American manufacturing. If we're going to honor the tradition of 'Made in Wisconsin' we need to be sure that there's a level playing field on which our companies compete in the global market. Things need to be fair-- fair trade means ending the practice of Chinese paper goods flooding the market with subsidized products. That's not a partisan issue, it's an American issue."
In the ad she says, "In Wisconsin we lead the entire nation in paper industry jobs. But China, they lead the world in cheating. And it's costing us jobs in Wisconsin. So I brought Democrats and Republicans together to put sanctions on China now and punish them for making billions breaking trade rules. When the rules are fair, Wisconsin workers come out ahead." There's a lot behind those 5 short sentences.
Wisconsin has been the #1 paper-making state for more than most Americans have been alive and Wisconsin has more jobs-- over 53,000-- in the paper industry than any other state. Tammy's Senate opponents are all "free" traders and, like Ron Johnson, are very much pro-China and have studiously avoided confronting the issue about how illegal Chinese subsidies are devastating Wisconsin's paper industry and making it impossible for the state to compete fairly. Half the paper industry jobs have vanished-- well, not vanished... they're in China now. and in return, John Boehner is Speaker of the House. Great deal for China!
Tammy, on the other hand, teamed up with a home-state Republican to pass bipartisan legislation to take on China's unfair trade practices, her CHEATS Act, which would allow the U.S. to impose countervailing duties on Chinese imports that are heavily subsidized by the Chinese government. In addition, Congress passed (370-39) bi-partisan legislation in March sponsored by Tammy to restore expiring trade sanctions designed to protect Wisconsin paper mills and a select group of other American manufacturers hard hit by cheap Chinese imports ("dumping"). And this month she introduced the PAGE Act (Purchasing American Generates Employment) to promote the U.S. (and Wisconsin) paper industry. The "Buy American" legislation that would require that any paper products purchased by the federal government must be grown, reprocessed, reused or produced in the U.S.
In his new book, The Fifteen Biggest Lies About The Economy, Joshua Holland waits 'til the very end to deal with the trade issue. Chapter 15 is called "There's Nothing Free About Free Trade." I want to share a little bit of it with you. Part of his thesis is that "free trade" is basically a corporate power grab-- and it's been a corporate power grab that has supporters on both sides of the aisle. Tammy isn'y among them.
It?s tempting to focus only on the economic impacts of trade deals such as NAFTA, but it?s just as important to dig deeper into the antidemocratic nature of the ?free trade? orthodoxy pushed by Big Business. All too often, progressives tie themselves up in knots discussing trade because they argue the issue on corporate America?s terms, instead of going to the root of the matter: ?free trade? isn?t free, and it often has nothing to do with what most people would consider ?trade.?
If the central question we?re asking is ?Free trade or protectionism?? the debate is already lost. That?s how the corporate globalizers have presented it and that?s how the media-- which clearly have a horse in the race-- report it. And that?s why the so-called free traders have been able to keep the upper hand.
Here?s the truth about ?free trade? agreements. When you talk about trade policy, you?re really talking about the enormous influence of corporate power over democratic governance. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), the gutsy leader of the fair-trade caucus, explained the close connection during the lead-up to the vote on the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) in 2005. ?Our political system is now up for the highest bidder,? Brown told me at the time. ?Energy bills are written by oil companies and environmental bills are written by the chemical companies.?
Similarly, this trade agreement-- CAFTA-- but other trade agreements, too, have been written by a select few for a select few-- and that select few is typically the drug industry, the insurance and financial institutions, and the energy companies, and the largest multinational corporations. It?s the same old song, whether it?s international or it?s domestic.
In his book The Myths of Free Trade, Brown described thousands of corporate jets stacked up over D.C. as the vote neared, carrying industry execs eager to descend on the city to lobby for the agreement. Trade policy is clearly an insider?s game.
In their book Whose Trade Organization, Lori Wallach and Patrick Woodall found that among the hundreds of ?experts? who sat on the advisory boards that hammered out the thousands of pages of WTO and NAFTA rules, there were only a handful of representatives of labor. The rest were multinational execs and various lawyers, lobbyists, and sundry industry experts. There was almost zero input from human rights groups, environmentalists, or the rest of society. It?s not only that the treaties we?ve signed are flawed, but the process by which they?re created makes it all but impossible that they would benefit working people or protect our commons. These are simply not corporate America?s priorities (nor those of its counterparts in Japan or the EU).
...Pressuring countries to adhere to the economic policies of the ?Washington Consensus,? whether they?re popular or not, is job number one for the bi multinationals, because a majority of governments on the planet today are, to varying degrees, democratic. And democracy is a huge challenge to many of the big multinationals? interests. Workers? movements, environmentalists, pesky public interest groups, and, above all, voters exert various degrees of influence on those elected representatives.
Trade treaties constrain legislatures to remain true to the prevailing orthodoxy. Most folks don?t know this, but when state lawmakers draw up new legislation, they often drop a line to the office of the U.S. Trade Representative to make sure their bills comply with our trade commitments.
Other countries acting on behalf of their biggest corporations can challenge laws that aren?t ?WTO legal.? These aren?t about widgets being shipped from here to there; the range of what falls under the catchall ?free trade? is astounding. A few of the more notorious decisions include:A Massachusetts law preventing state and local governments from doing business with the brutal dictatorship in Burma was overturned by domestic courts after a WTO challenge. An EU policy that gave preferential tariffs to small banana
exporters in Europe?s former colonies was successfully challenged by the United States after lobbying by the Chiquita banana company.
Venezuela, backed by Brazil, successfully challenged provisions of the United States? Clean Air Act that kept fuels with higher
levels of pollutants out of the market.
The WTO has an enforceable arbitration process, but it isn?t always necessary to lodge a formal grievance. Because the vast majority of challenges to various domestic laws have been upheld, merely the threat of bringing a case is usually enough to make governments rethink their legislation. This is common when it comes to health, environmental, and food safety laws. In the first ten years of WTO arbitration panels? operation, all but two such challenges brought before them prevailed.
In NAFTA and in regional deals such as CAFTA and the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), the business community managed to get what it had tried and failed to achieve in the WTO: the ability of multinationals to cut out the middle man and sue governments directly for the loss of profits resulting from a regulation or a law they consider too ?burdensome.? Under those rules, ?signatory governments are required to provide extensive rights and privileges to foreign investors,? who are then ?empowered to privately enforce these new rights by demanding cash payment from governments? that don?t give them what they want, according to a report by Public Citizen.
The cases are decided behind closed doors in ?private tribunals operating outside the nations? domestic court system?:The track record of cases demonstrate[s] an array of attacks on public policies and normal governmental activity at all levels of government-- federal, state and local. Even though these NAFTA cases implicate commonplace public policies, the investor-state system is a closed and unaccountable one. Citizens whose policies are being attacked have no avenue of meaningful participation and neither do the state and local officials they elected to represent them. [Domestic] court decisions can be challenged and jury decisions undermined, yet no judge or jury has standing to participate in the private NAFTA tribunals.
These rules shift significant amounts of risk from investors to governments. At the same time, they sharply limit what governments can ask for in return.
The common response to this critique is pretty straightforward: most of the parties to international trade deals such as the WTO are democratic states. Their legislators are elected by the people, and when they enter into a treaty, they?re doing it on behalf of those who put them in office. Hence, democracy is safe, even if democratic governments don?t always have the freedom-- the ?policy space?-- to advance their constituents? interests.
But we have to remember those private jets stacked up over Washington during the run-up to the vote on CAFTA. That trade deal faced stiff public resistance-- one poll taken in the weeks before Congress voted found that three out of four Americans opposed trade agreements that resulted in job losses at home, even if they resulted in cheaper goods and services. And cheaper goods were a central selling point for the deal.
As the vote neared, it looked as if George Bush might have become the first president to fail to get a trade agreement through Congress in forty years. But all of the lobbying might of various business groups came to bear on members of Congress. As the Washington Post reported, ?A prominent business leader recently laid it on the line: Business groups are prepared to cut off campaign contributions to House members who oppose the pact. ?If you [lawmakers] are going to vote against it, it?s going to cost you,? Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, warned recently during a meeting on Capitol Hill.? Several years later, months before the 2008 presidential elections, Donahue would announce a $60 million war chest dedicated to punishing those whom the Los Angeles Times described as ?candidates who target business interests with their rhetoric or policy proposals, including congressional and state-level candidates.? ?We plan to build a grassroots business organization so strong that when it bites you in the butt, you bleed,? Donohue said.
On the eve of the vote, the Bush administration started to cut deals with members of its own party who were resisting the pact. The Los Angeles Times reported, ?For more than an hour, lawmakers milled about the House floor and gazed at the electronic scoreboard displaying the vote tally, which showed CAFTA several votes short of the mark.? Nancy Pelosi, then the House minority leader, told the Times, ?Right there in front of us, for the world to see, they were twisting arms, making deals, changing votes.? Finally, when the count reached 217 to 215, the vote was gaveled to a close, and the deal had scraped through by a hair.
Yet if the pressure on lawmakers here in the United States was great, it paled in comparison with that brought to bear on leaders of smaller, poorer states such as Costa Rica. Lori Wallach, the director of Public Citizen, noted that ?The U.S. ambassador to Costa Rica, Mark Langdale, was slammed with a rare formal denunciation before Costa Rica?s Supreme Electoral Tribunal in August after he waged a lengthy campaign to influence the vote on CAFTA. As part of that [campaign], Langdale employed misleading threats and suggested there would be economic reprisals if CAFTA were rejected.? The Bush administration repeatedly threatened to remove Costa Rica?s trade preferences-- which waived some duties on products it exports to the United States-- if the Costa Rican people rejected CAFTA in a referendum.
This kind of geopolitical arm-twisting is par for the course in venues like the WTO. In 2001, immediately after the attacks of 9/11, U.S. trade representative Robert Zoellick made the case that advancing the Anglo-U.S. model of corporate ?free? trade was key to winning the ?War on Terror.? At the time, author Naomi Klein wrote, ?Zoellick explained that ?by promoting the WTO?s agenda, these 142 nations can counter the revulsive destructionism of terrorism.? Open markets, he said, are ?an antidote? to the terrorists? ?violent rejectionism.??
The United States has become infamous among trade observers for using that kind of rhetorical ?linkage? to advance its agenda, but it?s far from unique in that regard. These kinds of power plays are especially evident in negotiations between wealthy states and the developing world, so-called North-South negotiations.
As Aileen Kwa, who analyzed the back-room deals in which trade agreements are formed in great detail, wrote, ?In comparison to the United States, the EU is usually more sophisticated in the rhetoric it adopts... it promotes its agenda at the WTO as being ?in the interests of developing countries.? This is ironic since developing countries? assessment[s] of their own interests are the complete opposite.?
The highly developed states use economic blackmail-- threatening poorer countries? trade preferences and foreign aid accounts-- and blatantly undemocratic methods to overcome the developing world?s concerns about these deals and get them to sign on the bottom line.
In their seminal book Behind the Scenes at the WTO, Kwa and coauthor Fatoumata Jawara cast a bright light on the murky world of international trade negotiations. ?Any country whose political system operated as the WTO... [does]-- where... rules were routinely ignored, and people or interested groups routinely used bribery and blackmail to achieve their political ends-- would not only be rightly condemned by the international community as undemocratic and corrupt, it would also face a real and constant threat of revolution,? they wrote.
Crucial meetings are held behind closed doors, excluding participants with critical interests at stake, with no formal record of the discussion. When delegates are, in principle, entitled to attend meetings, they are not informed when or where they are to be held. Meetings are held without translation into the languages of many participants, to discuss documents which are only available in English, and which have been issued only hours before, or even at the meeting itself. Those most familiar with issues (Ambassadors) are sometimes discouraged or prevented from speaking in discussions about them at Ministeria meetings. ?Consultations? with Members on key decisions are held one-to-one, in private, with no written record, and the interpretation left to an individual who has a stake in the outcome. Protestations that inconvenient views have been ignored in this process fall on deaf ears. Chairs of committees and facilitators are selected by a small clique, and often have an interest in the issues for which the committee is responsible. The established principle of decision-making by consensus is routinely overridden, and the views of decision-makers are ?interpreted? rather than a formal vote being taken... Rules are ignored when they are inconvenient, and a blind eye is turned to blackmail and inducements. The list is endless.
A free-market transaction, remember, has to be free of coercion. All parties have to have access to the same information. By these standards alone, ?free trade? is anything but.
On Wednesday, Uganda Ethics Minister Simon Lokodo announced plans to dissolve 38 organizations because they ?empower, enhance, and recruit? people into homosexuality. Now, Lokodo is backing away from such claims, having put out a statement saying that the Ugandan government does not discriminate against people “of a different sexual orientation”:
LOKODO: No government official is (supposed) to harass any section of the community and everybody in Uganda enjoys the freedom to lawfully assemble and associate freely with others.
Lokodo’s statement is odd, as his history of anti-gay hostility is well-documented. Though the “Kill the Gays” bill is still pending in the legislature, homosexuality continues to be illegal in Uganda. To say that the government does not discriminate against people based upon their sexual orientation falls far short of the truth.
Here is theory that some Congressional Republicans believe: The Obama Administration intentionally handed over automatic weapons to Mexican drug cartels, who they knew would commit violent acts, because they wanted to scare Americans into supporting stricter gun laws.
That supposed series of events has now led Congress to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt.
Holder is caught up in a scandal over what happened during Operation Fast and Furious, one in a series of efforts started under former President Bush, in which firearms owned by the U.S. government are intentionally sold to criminals with the hopes that they can be traced back, and criminal activity can be monitored. One such firearm turned up at the crime scene where border patrol agent Brian Terry was killed.
Republicans cite the case as a national security issue, but they’ve simultaneously turned it into an indictment over what they believe is a conspiracy aimed at taking away their own firearms. They argue that this was all a ploy to expose how dangerous guns can be. Here are the facts you should know about the conspiracy, and who’s behind it:
The man who started the conspiracy theory also rallied people to break congressional windows. Mike Vanderboegh, a man who once called for militias to break the windows of members of Congress because of the passage of the Affordable Care Act, started this conspiracy theory. Rachel Maddow uncovered that Vanderboegh has been encouraging members of Congress to embrace the theory.
Major Republicans, including Darrell Issa, endorse this conspiracy theory. Among those are Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who is Chair of the House Oversight Committee and is heading up the investigation of Eric Holder. In an interview on FOX, Issa said, “very clearly, they made a crisis, and they’re using this crisis to somehow take away or limit people’s Second Amendment rights.” But Issa isn’t the only one who is buying in: former Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich just two days ago agreed with the theory. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), and many other Republicans have voiced support for this theory too.
The NRA is driving the conspiracy theory paranoia though ads. The National Rifle Association is furthering the paranoia as a way to rally gun owners by running advertisements and a petition calling on President Obama to fire Eric Holder. The ads don’t specifically mention the gun control conspiracy, but the Executive Director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action is a full-throttle conspiracy believer. The NRA also threatened members of Congress who voted on the contempt charge yesterday, saying that a vote against contempt would reflect poorly on that member’s pro-gun ratings.
Conspiracy theorists blame Holder for a new gun law he didn’t make. Even if one were to believe the vast conspiracy theory, a linchpin in the theorists’ argument is based on a false premise. They say that recently Holder ordered the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) to report anyone who bought more than one large gun in five day as a way to track American gun owners. In reality, ATF made a request about reporting gun purchases and the Justice Department only approved it after a delay.
Issa defended Bush for the same thing of which he is accusing Holder. Issa has been tearing apart Holder for not wanting to hand over private communications from the Justice Department that could compromise ongoing criminal investigations. But when George Bush refused to do the same thing in 2007, Issa blasted the move as a “political witch hunt.”
Last year, the Vice President of the NRA said that there is “a massive Obama conspiracy to deceive voters and hide his true intentions to destroy the Second Amendment.” This conspiracy theory feeds directly into that sentiment. But there is absolutely no evidence that the President has any intention of tightening gun laws. In fact, he’s loosening regulations on firearm exports.
Earlier this week, Samuel Wurzelbacher–known to most as Joe the Plumber–posted a campaign ad on YouTube that sought to blame gun control laws for human atrocities, including the Armenian genocide of the early 1900s and the extermination of 6 million Jews during World War II.
Amazingly, Wurzelbacher kept digging. Yesterday in an interview with the Toledo Blade, Wurzelbacher defended the ad by denying he ever mentioned the Holocaust:
“All I said was gun control was implemented, and then governments proceeded to violate human rights,” Mr. Wurzelbacher said. “Nowhere did I mention the Holocaust or was I even talking about it.”
Let’s go to the videotape:
Apparently, Wurzelbacher can’t find any references–explicit or otherwise–to the Holocaust in the lines “In 1939, Germany established gun control. From 1939 to 1945, 6 million Jews and 7 million others, unable to defend themselves, were exterminated.” Worse, he goes on to blame “the liberal media” for pointing out the obvious–and deeply offensive–Holocaust reference.
His campaign spokesman Phil Christofanelli told the paper that the story was “generated by left-wing liberal blogs and picked up by the ‘sympathetic liberal media.’” Jewish groups were swift to condemn the ad, as were Democrats and the overwhelming majority of viewers on YouTube. As of publication, the ad has been viewed almost 50,000 times and most of the feedback has been negative.
For good measure, Christofanelli expanded on the ad as well, adding slavery to the list of atrocities that can be traced back to gun control. “Well, blacks weren’t allowed to own guns in the South, that’s a historical fact as well,” he told Politicker on Tuesday.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is no stranger to outlandish conspiracy theories but the former GOP presidential primary candidate took her theories to a new height in an interview earlier this week with the American Family Assocation’s Sandy Rios. Bachmann claimed that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated various department of the U.S. government.
Bachmann told Rios (HT RightWingWatch):
It appears that there has been deep penetration in the halls of our United States government by the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood has been found to be an unindicted co-conspirator on terrorism cases and yet 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. I am calling upon the Justice Department and these various departments to investigate through the Inspector General to see who these people are and what access they have to our information.
Listen to her (HT RightWingWatch):
Bachmann’s bizarre conspiracy theorizing about a “penetration” of the U.S. government matches closely with the conspiracy theories espoused by Center for Security Policy (CSP) President Frank Gaffney who in recent months has found himself ostracized by mainstream Republicans for his accusations about a Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the George W. Bush and Obama administrations as well as the American Conservative Union.
Gaffney’s role in advising Bachmann’s presidential campaign on foreign policy matters was noted by The New Republic last year and her ties to the CSP president were reaffirmed in a letter sent from her — as well as Reps. Trent Franks (R-AZ), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Thomas Rooney (R-FL), and Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) — to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and the Department of State. The letter, which cites Gaffney’s Muslim Brotherhood In America website, dated June 13, reads [PDF]:
We deem it imperative that your office conduct an investigation of the extent to which [Muslim Brotherhood] influence operations may have contributed to a fundamental misunderstanding of the Muslim Brotherhood by U.S. intelligence — which could, in turn, have contributed to the policy community’s susceptibility to subverstion at the hands of the Brothers and their allies.
In her radio interview, Bachmann went on to charge that such influence has been used to “blacklist” FBI and military trainers who have been accused of espousing deeply Islamophobic views. Indeed, the FBI and Joint Chiefs of Staff appear to have decided that Islamophobic teaching materials — for example, one recently suspended teacher at the Joint Forces Staff College called for a “total war” on Islam — should hold no place in government counterterrorrism training. While anti-Muslim advocates like Gaffney have fewer allies in government, they appear to have a steadfast ally in Rep. Michele Bachmann.