Rashad Hussain is the deputy associate White House counsel who is Obama’s recently designated representative to the Organization of the Islamic Conference. We wrote about his appointment here, noting his 2004 expression of support for convicted terrorist Sami al-Arian. Al-Arian was the North American head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Anyone who bothered to read al-Arian’s 2003 indictment would see that al-Arian was a long-time, active supporter of PIJ’s terrorist operations.
According to Hussain in 2004, al-Arian was the victim of “politically motivated persecutions.” Hussain also reportedly asserted that al-Arian was being “used politically to squash dissent.” Hussain denied recalling the quoted comments expressing support of al-Arian and the White House publicized Hussain’s non-denial denial.
I thought that Hussain’s non-denial was telling, probably made to preserve his options in case a recording of his remarks surfaced. I commented: “He has not (yet) sought to explain away the remarks as a youthful indiscretion.” Josh Gerstein reports that this has now come to pass:
[Hussain] changed course Friday – admitting he made sharply critical statements about a U.S. terror prosecution against a Muslim professor after initially saying he had no recollection of making such comments.
“I made statements on that panel that I now recognize were ill-conceived or not well-formulated,” Hussain said, referring to a 2004 conference where he discussed the case.
Hussain’s reversal came after POLITICO obtained a recording of his presentation to a Muslim students’ conference in Chicago, where he can be heard portraying the government’s cases towards professor Sami Al-Arian, as well as other Muslim terrorism suspects, as “politically motivated persecutions.”
“Ill-conceived or not well-formulated” is itself an interesting formulation. I would like to see a well-formulated expression of Hussain’s views on al-Arian. But why should anyone believe him now? Gerstein notes:
Initially, Hussain, 31, said through a White House spokesman that he didn’t recall making the statements. Hussain also suggested that another speaker on the panel, Al-Arian’s daughter Laila, made the comments about her father.
But after POLITICO provided the quotes and others from the recording to the White House Friday, Hussain said in a statement: “As a law student six years ago, I spoke on the topic of civil liberties on a panel during which I responded to comments made about the al-Arian case by Laila al-Arian who was visibly saddened by charges against her father. I made clear at the time that I was not commenting on the allegations themselves. The judicial process has now concluded, and I have full faith in its outcome.”
Hussain’s views are of interest, but so is the fact that a terrorist sympathizer is serving as a high- ranking White House official. It says a lot about the Muslim outreach being conducted as an article of the higher wisdom by the Obama administration.
The White House cannot even now bring itself forthrightly to condemn Hussain: “The White House declined to say Friday whether the statements or the controversy affected Obama’s confidence in Hussain.” The administration prefers to wait and see what it can get away with. There is apparently no issue of principle between Hussain and Obama.
Gerstein’s story goes into detail about Hussain’s views on the al-Arian case and the PATRIOT Act provisions that led to his prosecution. It also illuminates the deception behind the removal of the offending comments from the online version of the article that originally reported them. Gerstein’s story is a great piece of journalism. I urge you to read all of it.
The case of Rashad Hussain signifies. It is important in itself and for what it reveals about the Obama administration.
Via AHFF Geoff .