U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) apparently isn't one to take no for an answer. Or, one to take no answer for an answer for that matter.
On Tuesday, Wolf wrote his third letter to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice demanding she take aggressive action to determine whether textbooks at a Saudi-run school in Virginia teach extremism and intolerance, including a book which states the killing an apostate or an adulterer is acceptable under Islamic law.
Wolf first wrote to Rice June 24, citing a new report from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and asking that the State Department translate a collection of textbooks from the Islamic Saudi Academy that it has to assess their content. "The State Department is not doing its duty," he handwrote next to his signature.
Receiving no response, he wrote again on July 14 noting the new school year was approaching and answers were needed before that. Wolf and the USCIRF argue that the State Department has authority to investigate the ISA, because the school is funded by the Saudi Arabian embassy. The Saudi ambassador to Washington leads the school's board of directors.
Wolf finally got a response Aug. 29 from Matthew Reynolds, acting Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs.
"With regard to the ISA in particular, the school has reported that it is in the process of adopting new religious curricula and textbooks for the 2008-09 school year. The ISA has stated publicly that the new school year's textbooks are currently being reviewed by professors at two American universities."
In a response Sept. 16 sent to Rice, Wolf made it clear he was under whelmed. The school year is well under way, he noted, and Reynolds' letter failed to address Wolf's repeated requests for State Department officials to work with the USCIRF to translate the textbooks in State's possession "to conclusively determine what is being taught at ISA."
Since the USCIRF report, similar reports have expressed the same concerns over intolerance and extremism in Saudi textbooks. Rice has the power to act, Wolf wrote, "and arguably [you] are obligated to do so given what is at stake."