By Jordy Yager - 10/14/09 11:01 AM ET
Four House Republicans are accusing a Muslim advocacy group of trying to plant spies on Capitol Hill.
Republican members of the Congressional Anti-Terrorism Caucus said the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) have tried to plant “spies” within key national-security committees in order to shape legislative policy.
Reps. Sue Myrick (R-N.C.), John Shadegg (R-Ariz.), Paul Broun (R-Ga.) and Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), citing the book Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld that's Conspiring to Islamize America, called for the House sergeant at arms to investigate whether CAIR had been successful in placing interns on key panels. The lawmakers are specifically focused on the House Homeland Security Committee, Intelligence Committee and Judiciary Committee.
“If an organization is connected to or supports terrorists [and] is running influence operations or planting spies in key national security-related offices, I think this needs to be made known,” said Broun, who sits on the Homeland Security Committee. “So I join my colleagues here today in calling for action.”
But the Office of the House sergeant at arms said that it has received no such request from any of the four Republicans and declined to speculate on how a request of that nature would be addressed.
"We have not received any request at this time," said Kerri Hanley, a spokeswoman for the House sergeant at arms office. "Until we know of the exact request, a determination cannot be made on how it will be handled."
The book, which was written by P. David Gaubatz and Paul Sperry with a foreword by Myrick, is scheduled to be released on Thursday.
A representative of CAIR called the accusations unfounded and worried that they would tarnish the improving relations between Muslim and non-Muslim Americans.
“God forbid American Muslims take part in the political process and exercise their rights,” said Ibrahim Hooper, a CAIR spokesman, in a telephone interview. “I suppose they’re going to investigate the Muslim Staffers Association next.
“If these people weren’t so hate-filled, it would be laughable, but unfortunately they have an audience and, given their positions, it’s going to get picked up by the hate blogs.”
While the Republicans said they did not know of specific legislation that CAIR had affected, Franks, a Judiciary Committee member, said he wouldn’t be surprised if it was trying to amend the Patriot Act.
“One of the target policies that they might be concerned about is the Patriot Act itself — those things that give us the greatest tools to be able to surveil those conversations outside of this country … and I think organizations like CAIR would like to diminish that.”
The GOP accusations come as Congress is considering reauthorizing the Patriot Act, which has been attacked by critics on both the left and the right.
The Republicans also called on the IRS to launch a full investigation into CAIR’s lobbying activities, “to judge if they are in violation of their federal nonprofit status.”
Hooper said that CAIR is in full federal compliance with its status as a 501(c)3 nonprofit group, and that the group devotes less in terms of resources than the maximum legal limit allowed.
“We’ve always stayed within our legal limits,” he said. “If anything, we don’t have enough staff to lobby as much as we legally can.”
Gaubatz, the co-author of Muslim Mafia, could not be reached at press time. On his website, daveg.us, he asks supporters for money to “legally destroy CAIR.”
“CAIR will use their routine and expected ‘smear’ campaign to discredit me,” Gaubatz wrote on Wednesday morning. “It will not work. I have one foot on CAIR. I tell the truth. They simply lie and we have the proof.
“Please support me in these eforts [sic] to help shut this terror supporting organization down. donate all weekend. We need to raise $25,000 to put more research in the field and to bring more intelligence agianst [sic] them … If you want to protect your children and America, then help me now.”
Citing the book, Myrick requested that the Justice Department share with all lawmakers and their chiefs of staff an executive summary of the findings that led the department to name CAIR as a co-conspirator in an anti-terrorism case.
She said the Justice Department identified CAIR as an “un-indicted co-conspirator” in the Holy Land Foundation case in Dallas, which concluded with the sentencing of the two founders of the foundation to life in prison for funneling $12 million to Hamas, which the U.S. has labeled a terrorist organization.
“We need to know that information so that we can discern whether we want to take interns associated with that group into our office,” said Myrick.
Earlier this year, the FBI cut off communication with CAIR out of concern that the group had ties with Hamas.
Hooper said that CAIR welcomed the scrutiny from the Republican lawmakers and that he was disappointed to see them associate with Gaubatz, whom he called a "hate-monger.”
“It’s a shame to see elected officials take part in a smear campaign based on bigotry,” Hooper said.
A call for comment from the Justice Department was not returned.
This article was updated at 5:08 p.m.