FBI's Embarrassing Response to CAIR Questions
March 9, 2009
A U.S. Congressman who serves on a committee controlling the FBI's budget is blasting the Bureau's response to a set of questions regarding an FBI freeze on contacts with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
The Investigative Project on Terrorism reported January 29 that evidence tying CAIR and its founders to a U.S.-based Hamas support network prompted the Bureau to sever routine outreach meetings with the organization. That evidence was part of the government's prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, which ended in November with the conviction of five former officials on 108 counts.
"[I]f CAIR wishes to pursue an outreach relationship with the FBI, certain issues must be addressed to the satisfaction of the FBI. Unfortunately, these issues cannot be addressed at the local level and must be addressed by the CAIR National Office in Washington, D.C.," an October letter from Oklahoma City Special Agent in Charge James E. Finch said. Similar letters were issued in other states.
U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, (R-VA), wrote to the FBI on Feb. 2 asking for details about the FBI move. He addressed his questions to Michael Heimbach, an assistant director for the Counter Terrorism Division. Among them: whether there were conditions that could end the freeze, and what were the "certain issues" referenced by Finch that needed to be addressed by CAIR.
FBI spokesman John Miller responded in a four-paragraph letter dated today, but hand-delivered last Friday:
"'Formal' relationships as defined here means appointing or accepting CAIR or its representatives on any organized committee or group sponsored by the FBI. However, representatives of CAIR have the same access to the FBI as any other persons and are encouraged to report any crime or violation of civil rights."
The letter did not address most of Wolf's questions and he expressed his displeasure in a response released today:
"For six years I served as chairman of the appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the FBI and count myself among the Bureau's strongest supporters," Wolf wrote. "Having resumed a leadership role this year as ranking member on the Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations subcommittee, it is important to me that the FBI provide timely and detailed responses."
He didn't find that in Miller's letter, so he repeated his questions and asked that they be answered by Friday "by someone who works on counter-terrorism, rather than a public affairs officer. Other members of Congress, both House and Senate, have expressed interest in and additional information about the Bureau's position as it relates to CAIR. I would think the Bureau would be embarrassed to send the insufficient response I received."
Read Wolf's entire response, including his specific questions, here.