In an interview Tuesday night, Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz refused to address questions about the wisdom of her Democratic colleagues inviting two officials from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) to the State of the Union address.
As we reported Monday, Democrats Alcee Hastings of Florida and California's Zoe Lofgren invited CAIR officials to the speech in response to a call from Wasserman-Schultz and Rep. Keith Ellison. It was a symbolic response to what they see as overheated rhetoric toward Muslim Americans in the ongoing presidential campaigns.
By embracing CAIR, the representatives did something the FBI proscribes for its agents. Internal documents seized by the FBI show CAIR was founded as part of a U.S.-based Hamas support network. CAIR founder Omar Ahmad was a leader of that network, called the Palestine Committee. Nihad Awad, the only executive director in CAIR's 21-year-history, also was part of the group and participated in a secret meeting of Hamas supporters in 1993 aimed at derailing the U.S.-led Oslo Accords which sought to bring peace to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Palestine Committee opposed the effort because it included recognition of Israel's right to exist, and because it empowered the secular Palestine Liberation Organization over the Islamist Hamas terrorist group.
On Fox News after the speech Tuesday night, host Megyn Kelly asked Wasserman-Schultz whether the invitation to the CAIR officials was a mistake, noting "President Obama's DOJ says they're directly linked to Hamas, which we recognize is a terrorist group."
"Megyn, now who's talking about something that's disappointing?" Wasserman-Schultz asked. She never addressed the question about CAIR's sordid history.
For merely engaging in journalism by asking the question, Media Matters for America writes that Kelly "attacks" the DNC chair.
That is absurd.
Here's what an FBI assistant director wrote in 2009, explaining why the agency broke off "all formal outreach activities with CAIR": "[U]ntil we can resolve whether there continues to be a connection between CAIR or its executives and HAMAS, the FBI does not view CAIR as an appropriate liaison partner."
The policy remains in effect seven years later.
Wasserman-Schultz either doesn't believe the FBI or doesn't care what evidence it has to support its policy. That's disturbing for someone in a leadership position. But she also does a broader disservice by casting CAIR as the voice of Muslim Americans when, in reality, most want nothing to do with the Islamist group.
A 2011 poll from the by Abu Dhabi Gallup Center in the United Arab Emirates found 11 percent of women and 12 percent of men believed CAIR represented their interests.
On top of CAIR's documented ties to Hamas and a terror-financing network, the group reflexively opposes terror support and financing prosecutions, accuses federal law enforcement of entrapping otherwise innocent and peaceful Muslims in order to gin up terrorism prosecutions and of using excessive force with Muslim suspects.
As we noted Monday, inviting Muslim Americans to the speech is not the problem. But if the objective was to show there's a monolithic community of liberty-minded Muslims with no skeletons, including CAIR representatives is ignorant and counter-productive. The same is true for New Jersey U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, who invited the treasurer of a group which wants the Muslim Brotherhood back in power in Egypt. Last month, the White House hosted a CAIR official who is helping a family sue the FBI, alleging an agent unjustly shot and killed a friend of Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev after hours of questioning in his Orlando home in 2013.
Meanwhile, reform-minded Muslims who unequivocally reject "interpretations of Islam that call for any violence, social injustice and politicized Islam" and advocate "equal rights and dignity for all people, including minorities," and women were shut out of the Democrats' invite-a-Muslim program.
Maybe a House Democrat should stand up and challenge colleagues to empower those free-thinking Muslims by giving them a seat at the table, too.