One word from the Department of Justice speaks volumes about its suspicion surrounding the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
As Politico's Josh Gerstein reports, Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl sent a host of questions to Attorney General Eric Holder after a recent hearing. One sought an explanation for a speech Holder gave last fall to a group which includes CAIR representatives.
The FBI broke off contact with CAIR in 2008 as a result of evidence presented at the trial of the Holy Land Foundation, which linked the organization to the terror group Hamas. Since then, a federal grand jury has subpoenaed records removed from CAIR offices as part of what appears to be a criminal investigation into the organization.
Holder wasn't aware of CAIR's participation in the group he spoke to, the DOJ response said.
Asked whether there was any "new evidence that exonerates CAIR from the allegations that it provides financial support to designated terrorist organizations," the DOJ response couldn't be more simple or direct.
CAIR denies any connection to Hamas or terrorism, but this marks the second time in a month that DOJ has publicly expressed its doubt. In a letter to four members of Congress last month, an official pointed to trial transcripts and exhibits from the Holy Land trial "which demonstrated a relationship among CAIR, individual CAIR founders, and the Palestine Committee. Evidence was also introduced that demonstrated a relationship between the Palestine Committee and HAMAS, which was designated as a terrorist organization in 1995."
Despite Holder's apparent faux-pas in engaging CAIR, the Justice Department said the speech did not represent a change on the DOJ's attitude towards CAIR. The DOJ's response noted:
"Our law enforcement efforts will be more successful – and our communities will be safer – if we in law enforcement work closely with those we serve and if those communities cooperate with us. This speech, which was widely attended and open to the public, offered an important opportunity to encourage and support these types of partnerships."
Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca made a show of meeting with CAIR officials this week, telling reporters that "CAIR is not a terrorist-supporting organization. That is my experience. That is my interaction. And if you want to promote that, you're on your own."
DOJ officials, who possess the evidence, clearly differ.