The State Department official is accused of being connected to a vast foreign conspiracy, hostile to America. The official denies it, as the Establishment rallies around the accused official. Indeed, Establishmentarians not only dismiss any possibility of the official’s guilt or complicity, but they also ferociously denounce those who raise the possibility. After all, the official is a part of the in-group; it just isn’t possible to think that the official could do anything wrong. The Establishment is thus united around the proposition that the accused official is a good person, and that the accusers are bad people. And anyone who deviates from that orthodoxy risks being thrown out of the Georgetown-to-Manhattan golden circle of status and respectability.
Am I describing the case of Huma Abedin, the aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? No, I am describing the case of Alger Hiss, back in the 1940s. Hiss, who spent a decade working in the State Department, was accused of being a Soviet spy by Whittaker Chambers in 1948. And Chambers’ charges were brought before the Congress by a young House freshman, Richard Nixon.
President Harry Truman, called the charges against Hiss “a red herring”--that is, bogus. And he was joined by the rest of the Establishment, which, after two decades of the New Deal and Fair Deal, was solidly liberal and immune to the thought that a liberal could really be a communist.
Yet the evidence against Hiss--the so-called “pumpkin papers” cited by Chambers and Nixon--proved to be strong, and so he was indicted on perjury charges in 1949. Even then, liberal luminaries of the day, such as Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter and then-Illinois governor and future presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson, appeared on Hiss’s behalf in his trial as character witnesses. The following year, 1950, Hiss was convicted of perjury--that is, convicted of lying about his deep involvement in Soviet espionage--and sent to federal prison. Yet even then, Secretary of State Dean Acheson declared, “I will not turn my back on Alger Hiss.” Now that’s solidarity, Establishment-style.
Beyond the Hiss case, what was happening around the world during the previous five years? Was it possible to argue that Hiss’s masters in Moscow had benefited from their help in Washington? It was more than possible.
For starters, we might recall the Yalta Conference in February 1945, in which President Roosevelt, with Hiss as part of his diplomatic team, agreed to post-war Soviet control of Eastern Europe. Thus countries such as Poland and Czechoslovakia, which had suffered so greatly under Hitler, were left to suffer again under Stalin. In addition, the US agreed that the Soviets could play a major role in Asia, casting a benign eye on Red Army domination of Manchuria and the northern half of Korea. Admittedly, the Soviets were allies in WW2, and possessed a huge army, but at the end of a war for freedom, Uncle Sam was too quick to write off hopes for self-determination for hundreds of millions of people. Perhaps most spectacularly, China, which had been a US ally during World War Two, was conquered by communist insurgents in 1949, as the US stood by. How could this be? Why did the US abandon an ally? Perhaps it was because the “China Hands,” in and out of the State Department assured Presidents Roosevelt and Truman that Mao Zedong and his murderous communists were just a bunch of good-hearted “agrarian reformers.”
In other words, for all the success of the Marshall Plan and NATO, the US suffered five years of defeat from 1945 to 1949. Americans had plenty of reason to be outraged at Soviet espionage in the US, and plenty of reason to be furious at non-communist American leaders who nonetheless turned a blind eye toward such espionage.
So back to Hiss: after serving 44 months in prison, Hiss stoutly maintained his innocence for the rest of his life, gleefully telling eager audiences that he had been persecuted by the dreaded Nixon. Nevertheless, the 1978 publication of Allen Weinstein’s bombshell volume, Perjury, convinced most fair-minded observers that Hiss was guilty. Even so, Hiss still had plenty of friends; Bard College in New York endowed a professorial chair in his name.
The last nail in the coffin of Hiss’s guilt, however, came in the late 80s, with the release of the Venona files, decrypted spy documents that proved that Hiss and many others were guilty as charged. In other words, the Venona evidence proved that Nixon, and others, had been right: there was a vast conspiracy against the US--from within the US.
And that horrible reality, of course, is one reason why it took so long for the Venona information to emerge. Not because the Russians needed to be kept in the dark--they knew about Venona in 1945, thanks to another American spy, and had changed their codes. No, a big reason for the four decades of secrecy was that the American government did not want to admit that it had been so seriously compromised by Soviet penetration; Uncle Sam was in no hurry to admit that the leading lights of Washington had been played for suckers by the likes of Hiss.
Now let’s fast-forward to the present. On June 13, Rep. Michele Bachmann and four other Republican members of Congress wrote a letter to the Inspector General of the US State Department, asserting that Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary Clinton, was connected to the Muslim Brotherhood by three close relatives--her late father, her mother, and her brother. Bachmann & Co. then noted that during the course of Clinton’s tenure at the State Department, the US moved from a position of firm opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood’s taking power in Egypt, to a new position of firm support. So does that prove cause and effect? Is Abedin necessarily guilty of anything? No. But those of us on the outside still might say that Abedin’s role, such as it might have been, is worth examining. And perhaps, to remove any possible suspicion or concern, she could be moved into a different role, or out of the State Department altogether.
The Congressional quintet, in addition, wrote letters to four other inspectors general in defense and national security agencies; each letter contained different information on the same theme--that the Obama administration is not taking the domestic jihadi threat seriously enough, preferring to see it through a politically correct prism.
In their letter, for instance, to the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, the Members of Congress lamented the dominance of political correctness in DHS operations, particularly “the preeminent role of the DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties--rather than offices with line responsibilities for homeland security and law enforcement--in determinations that govern with a ‘particular ethnic or religious community’”--i.e. Muslim-Americans and the organizations that claim to represent them. The letter continued, describing the security impact of such thinking: “In practice, this has translated into direction that amounts to ignoring pre-violent jihadist behavior--no matter how threatening--as long as it can be construed as ‘constitutionally protected.’”
All five letters, totaling more than a dozen pages, can be seen here; together, they make a strong case that Obama policies should change. Because we do face a grave threat from the Islamic world--including from Muslims inside the US, as the Fort Hood shootings amply demonstrated..
Yet the Establishment chose to focus on the charge made in just one of the letters--the one to the State Department concerning Abedin. It would seem that the descendants of those who couldn't believe that there was anything wrong with Hiss are now unwilling even to entertain the possibility that there could anything out of the ordinary for Abedin, even though the basic facts of Abedin’s family--that she has intimate relatives who have been leading participants in Muslim activism over many decades--are not in dispute.
Yet in its defense of Abedin, the Establishment mainstream media strained to touch every public nerve it could. The Huffington Post, for example, heretofore not seen as a champion of liberty in faith matters, nevertheless produced a headline, “Bachmann Letters Undermine Religious Freedom.” What’s that phrase from Shakespeare? Oh yes, it’s something like: “The ladies--and the gentlemen--doth protest too much, methinks.”
Meanwhile, Sen. John McCain, returning to his 90s role as the go-to Republican for Democrats, piled on as well, accusing Bachmann and her colleagues of “an unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable woman, a dedicated American and a loyal public servant.” And so McCain duly earned himself another dozen appearances on the Sunday talk shows; every mainstream reporter can now say, “Even John McCain says that Bachmann is way off base.”
Yet, as former Justice Department prosecutor Andrew McCarthy noted in National Review Online, everything in Egypt that McCain said that he was against in 2011 is now coming to pass. So why, as the Muslim Brotherhood is gaining power in that country, is McCain is defending those American officials--including Abedin, and by extension, Secretary Clinton--who helped make the power transition happen? Perhaps, McCarthy suggests, it’s because McCain likes being in the middle of the game, and not on the right-wing fringe. Such is the power of the Beltway system of carrots and sticks. Do what the Beltway wants, and be rewarded with friendly press. Do what the Beltway doesn’t want, and suffer the Bachmann fate.
Indeed, a July 19 headline in Politico says it all: “Republicans line up to rip Michele Bachmann.” The subhead might as well have read, “And Republicans line up, too, to get patted on the head by the MSM.”
Yet that same day, July 19, something happened that suggests that Bachmann and her allies are onto something in their characterization of the US government: the Obama administration released William Webster’s report on the 2009 Fort Hood shooting, and anyone with two eyes can see that it was a feast of liberal political correctness and piety, even as larger geopolitical threats were starved for attention. In other words, those who were curious got the full vision of how the Obama administration views domestic terror threats.
In its focus on Warren Court-ish proceduralism, the Webster report--Webster, who is 88, made full use of a large commission staff chosen by the Obama Justice Department--skips past the obvious reality that Nidal Hasan, the killer of 12 fellow soldiers, was manifestly a volunteer terrorist. In the years prior to the shooting, he had proclaimed himself a “Soldier of Allah” and printed up business cards to communicate those views. Proving himself to be far more fervent than cautious, Hasan even exchanged e-mails with Al Qaeda recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen, in which he wrote, “I would assume that (a) suicide bomber whose aim is to kill enemy soldiers or their helpers, but also kills innocents in the process is acceptable.” And, oh yes--he shouted “Allahu Akbar” as he started shooting and killing. Can anyone truly say that Hasan’s psyche was any different from those who carried out the 9-11 attacks? Or that of any other killer-jihadi over the last decade?
Even so, the report managed to focus on FBI shortcomings, barely noticing the elephant-in-the-room reality that both the FBI, as well as the US Army, were paralyzed into inaction by bureaucratic political correctness in advance of the shootings. Everybody around Hasan could see that he was turning against the US, as he thought about what was happening in Iraq and Afghanistan, and yet nobody did anything, because they didn’t want to seem Islamophobic. And yet now, after the shootings, the Webster report discusses Hasan’s “radicalization,” while refusing to acknowledge the larger reality of international jihad.
The Webster document contains 44 uses of the word “Islam,” and yet all of those are in the first 92 pages of the 173-page document; most are quotes from Hasan himself, in which he happily acknowledges, to Awlaki as well as others, that he is a jihad-minded soldier for Islam. Yet the second half of the document, the last 81 pages, which moves into analysis of FBI shortcomings and then recommendations for the future, contains nary a reference to Islam. In other words, in the wake of the Webster report, the FBI, the US Army--and others charged with keeping us safe--are supposed to focus on the occasional individual “tree,” as they might stumble across it, while ignoring the larger Islamic “forest.”
Meanwhile, the Webster report contains 95 uses of the word “privacy,” and 10 of those are included in the 15 pages of specific recommendations. Indeed, the American Civil Liberties Union is cited as a primary resource to Webster and his commission.
In fact, the Webster report was so much a product of ACLU-ish groupthink that Sens. Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins, the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, were moved to issue a joint statement declaring: “We are concerned that the report fails to address the specific cause for the Fort Hood attack, which is violent Islamist extremism.”
So here we are in 2012, as the Muslim Brotherhood is steadily gaining power in Egypt. The Jerusalem Post’s Caroline Glick compares the situation in Egypt today to the situation in Turkey a decade ago--the difference being, according to Glick, that the Islamists in Egypt are already far more powerful than were their Turkish soulmates back in 2002. Today, sadly, Turkey is counted as one of the most anti-American countries in the world. And so now if Egypt falls to the Islamists, a whole set of dominoes could well be falling all across the entire Arab and Muslim world.
Yet the big news in Washington is not any of those ominous developments from the Middle East. Nor is the news the politically correct Webster report. No--the big news in DC is the threat from Rep. Michele Bachmann, Republican of Minnesota, and the urgent need for all good-thinkers to bludgeon her. Well, now they have, and so the Establishment can rest easy.
But there’s just one thing: somewhere, within the vast listening/intercepting capacity of the US government and its allies, there’s undoubtedly a ton--make that a tera-ton, or even a peta-ton--of data on worldwide jihadi Muslim activity aimed at the US, from within and without our borders.
We might not know about it now, because the data have not yet been analyzed and decrypted. Or maybe the data have been analyzed and decrypted, but all has been lost in a random computer file, or isolated in a hived-off bureaucratic silo. Or maybe, even, the data have been converted into information, but all that information has been judged to be too hot to disclose--as was the case with the Venona.
Yet as with Venona, the truth will ultimately be free. And then, as with Hiss six decades ago, a lot of very important people could be embarrassed--or worse.