Yesterday I noted Audrey Hudson’s Washington Times story reporting that the Justice Department is “co-sponsoring” the ISNA convention starting later this week. At the Counterterrorism Blog, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross disputes Hudson’s story. Gartenstein-Ross reports:
Both the headline and opening paragraph of the article state that the Justice Department is co-sponsoring the 2007 ISNA convention, which begins on Aug. 31. I spoke with a senior DOJ official who informs me that this is inaccurate. The Justice Department will in fact have a booth at the convention, but is not a co-sponsor. There will be about 500 booths at the bazaar-style event, including military recruiters, the FBI, and others who want to reach the Muslim community. The DOJ’s civil rights division and community relations service attended the ISNA convention in years past, and are doing so again this year — but are not in fact a “co-sponsor,” as the Times suggests.
The article goes on to assert that “Justice lawyers have objected to the affiliation with ISNA, fearing it will undermine the case against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development in Dallas.” The DOJ official with whom I spoke reports that the national security division was in fact consulted before arrangements for the booth were made: “This was cleared with the national security division to make sure nothing would interfere with an ongoing prosecution. They were fully supportive of this.”
UPDATE: I contacted Audrey Hudson this morning and reviewed the story with her. She stands by her story.
The Justice Department email now floating around notes that the Justice Department sections are “cosponsor[ing] an exhibit booth at the Islamic Society of North America convention in Rosemont, IL over Labor Day weekend.” The various sponsorships available for the convention are listed here. It appears that a booth is part of a sponsorship package. In Hudson’s story, the Justice Department did not deny sponsoring the conference.
The Justice Department appears to be backpedalling. How does one get a booth without a sponsorship? The Justice Department’s current two-step appears to resemble the story reported by Isikoff and Hosenball earlier this month in “An unwelcome guest.”