Hugh Hewitt kindly invited me on his show this afternoon together with Edward Morrissey of Captain’s Quarters to discuss the Frank Gaffney/Grover Norquist controversy. The discussion was occasioned by Gaffney’s FrontPage essay on America’s Islamist fifth column, “A troubling influence.” I flagged Gaffney’s essay yesterday morning in this post and gave my impressions of Hugh’s one-hour interview with Gaffney and Norquist yesterday in this post.
I reread Gaffney’s article to prepare for Hugh, and tracked down a couple of other pieces as well: Franklin Foer’s New Republic article “Fevered pitch: Grover Norquist’s strange alliance with radical Islam,” and Byron York’s National Review Online article “Fight on the right.”
Gaffney’s article is a tremendous piece of work. It may err in some details, but it portrays the operations of America’s Islamist fifth column in the Wahhabi lobby with insight and care. Gaffney relies not only on journalistic sources but also provides his own valuable eyewitness testimony. His criticism of Norquist in the article is impersonal and principled.
Norquist’s reponse, on the other hand, is personal and evasive. He attacks Gaffney as racist and bigoted; not a trace of evidence in the public record supports these charges. I heard Norquist respond to Gaffney in this manner at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington this past January. He did not deign to respond to Gaffney’s remarks in substance.
Hugh replayed his one-hour interview of Gaffney and Norquist on the show tonight and I took the opportunity to listen to it again. Having just reread the materials cited above, I was able to weigh the substance of Norquist’s responses to Hugh’s questions more carefully than the first time around. One particular exchange struck me as illustrative of Norquist’s deceit and evasiveness.
Hugh asked Norquist to respond to the charge that an indicted (indicted as a bagman for Muhammar Khadaffy) Islamist — Abdurahman Alamoudi — had contributed $10,000 by personal check to help set up the Islamic Institute under Norquist’s auspices. He stated that the check had been returned; he didn’t say whether it had been cashed or when it had been returned. (In a footnote, Gaffney cites a source quoting Norquist’s colleague Khaled Saffuri to the effect that the check was returned in October 2001.)
Norquist further stated that the institute was founded by Khaled Saffuri, as though that answered Hugh’s question regarding Alamoudi’s role in funding the institute. The institute is run by Saffuri, who, according to Gaffney, is one of Alamoudi’s former deputies; Norquist never responded to Gaffney’s charge that Saffuri is Alamoudi’s former deputy. In other words, Norquist in effect conceded that Alamoudi in fact contributed substantial funds to Norquist’s Islamic Institute and Norquist never disputed Gaffney’s point about Saffuri’s relationship to Alamoudi.
Norquist’s themes are those of the Islamist apologist organizations like CAIR and the American Muslim Council: informed critics of Islamofascism and advocates of American interests like Daniel Pipes and Frank Gaffney are portrayed as bigots, and key law enforcement tools against domestic terrorism are alleged to be nefarious infringments of civil rights. When Norquist attempted to enlist James Woolsey to his cause on the latter score, Gaffney powerfully established that Norquist was all but lying.
Finally, except when attacking Gaffney personally, the tone of Norquist’s remarks was insouciant and unserious. Norquist’s response to the merits of Gaffney’s charges was by turns evasive, deceitful, and flip. In defending himself from Gaffney’s chages, Grover Norquist is an advocate with a fool for a client.
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