In a lengthy article at CounterJihad.com, Christine Brim asks, “Should Family Affiliation With Foreign Islamist Movements Prevent a Security Clearance?”
While the article concerns an official in the office of the Defense Department Inspector General named John Crane, an even more urgent example would be longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, who has similar family connections to the Muslim Brotherhood, and might be just a few months away from access to the Oval Office.
John Crane rose to the position of Assistant Inspector General after 25 years with the Defense Department, even though his father Robert Crane converted to Islam in 1980 and became “a high-level official in multiple Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas-affiliated organizations in the U.S. and Qatar.” Crane told Brim he was never once asked about his father’s affiliations during his long DoD career.
The younger Crane has a position in the battle over Edward Snowden, who has lately been the beneficiary of a massive left-wing effort to rehabilitate his reputation as a “whistleblower” and secure a pardon for his offenses. As Brim explains:
Crane has recently been the subject of numerous media interviews as “The Third Man” in the new book Bravehearts: Whistleblowing in the Age of Snowden, a defense of Edward Snowden’s theft of classified documents from the U.S., UK and Australia. John Crane was quietly removed from his Inspector General and whistleblower office positions in February 2013, four months before the Edward Snowden case became public knowledge. He immediately became a consultant for the General Accountability Project (GAP), the legal counsel for Snowden. GAP was founded in 1977 by the extreme far left Institute for Policy Studies.
[…] Crane’s allegations against the DoD in Bravehearts have been cited as a vindication of Snowden’s acts by the Intercept, the website of Snowden advocate Glenn Greenwald (“Vindication for Edward Snowden From a New Player in NSA Whistleblowing Saga”).
He was suspended from his job as Defense Department Assistant Inspector General in 2013, accompanied by the loss of his security clearances, but is now appealing for reinstatement. This means Crane will have to complete a new security clearance questionnaire, Form SF 86, which now asks about the affiliation of relatives with any “foreign government, military, security, defense industry, foreign movement, or intelligence service.” This is where the elder Crane’s relationship with Islamist groups could enter the picture.
The problem is that the Muslim Brotherhood might not be as problematic as it should be. The Obama Administration has labored mightily to rehabilitate the group’s image, but Brim lays out a convincing case that it is exactly the kind of “foreign movement” our guardians of national security should worry about. It is already been designated a terrorist organization by a number of U.S. allies (plus Russia), and will obtain that designation in the United States if the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act of 2015 is enacted.
Brim recalls the Muslim Brotherhood’s motto – “Allah is our objective; the Prophet is our leader; the Quran is our law; Jihad is our way; dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope” – and notes their determination to “impose strict Islamic law in Muslim-majority countries and the world, using a mix of politics and violence.” They have ideological ties to some of America’s worst non-state enemies, including Hamas, al-Qaeda, and by extension, the Islamic State.
And yet, there does not seem to have been any effort made by this Administration, or its predecessors, to explore Robert Crane’s Muslim Brotherhood ties, or the possibility that they might compromise his son. CounterJihad’s exhaustive investigation ended with picking up the phone, calling John Crane, and asking if his father was that Robert Crane. He answered in the affirmative, but based on Brim’s report, no one in the U.S. government bothered to ask.
Robert Crane, who did not respond to an interview request from CounterJihad, has a lively resume, explored in detail by CounterJihad. He was, for example, appointed Deputy Director for National Security Planning by Richard Nixon, and then fired by Henry Kissinger; his connections in the Gulf Arab states made him Ronald Reagan’s choice for ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, but his appointment was scuttled by Secretary of State Alexander Haig.
Brim writes of Robert Crane’s conversion to Islam:
In 1980 Crane “became Muslim after seeing Sudanese leader Hasan al-Turabi preach and pray at an Islamic affairs conference in New Hampshire” (a variation on the conversion anecdote here). That Robert Crane would credit Hasan al-Turabi for his conversion is both surprising and concerning. Hasan al-Turabi became a leader of the Sudanese Muslim Brotherhood starting in the 1960s, was best known for inviting Osama Bin Laden to shelter his entire operation in Sudan from 1991-1996 and according to Human Rights Watch, imposed brutal sharia law as head of the National Islamic Front (the Muslim Brotherhood party) and in high office as Minister of Justice starting in 1979.
Brim relates many disturbing activities conducted by the organizations on Robert Crane’s resume, but the central question would be how much any of it reflects on his son John Crane. Brim’s antennae went up when the authors of the Bravehearts book about Snowden devoted a paragraph to Robert Crane, without naming him, or saying a single word about what he did after his spell with the Nixon Administration. Crane told Brim the authors did not ask about his father’s conversion to Islam or ties to extremist groups, and he did not volunteer the information – which seems to be a fair summary of his relationship with U.S. intelligence as well.
“If Crane undergoes a new background investigation, what answer will he give regarding his father’s affiliations to a foreign movement? Will it be the factual one, or the whitewashed one he provided for Bravehearts: Whistleblowing in the Age of Snowden? Would a factual answer bar a return to his old position – or facilitate it, in a future administration that may actively support the Muslim Brotherhood?” Brim asks.
Similar questions could be asked about Huma Abedin, whose family journal, where she is listed as an assistant editor, has advocated some disturbing interpretations of Islamic law, as well as accusing the United States of inviting the 9/11 attack by heaping “various kinds of injustices and sanctions” upon the Muslim world.
Her mother is an official in a group chaired by the Muslim Brotherhood’s leader, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Her father founded an institute supported by a major Muslim Brotherhood splinter group.
Questions about Abedin are never answered. They are deflected by furious allegations of conspiracy-mongering and anti-Muslim bigotry. Hillary Clinton and her top aides are clearly above the law, and above all reasonable national security scrutiny.
Crane does not have the magical Clinton immunity, but as Brim pointed out, the Muslim Brotherhood certainly has not been shunned by the Obama Administration, and it is poised to do even better in Washington if Hillary Clinton becomes President. The current climate of political correctness treats very few Islamic organizations as security risks, unless they’ve been directly classified as terrorist organizations under American law.
The web of connections between hardcore Islamists and more “mainstream” groups is complicated, making it easy to caricature discussion of those links as “conspiracy-mongering.” The groups cluttering these complex flowcharts tend to have the word “Muslim” in their benevolent-sounding names, and that’s all the dominant political culture in Washington needs to see before averting its eyes.
It’s fair to ask whether someone like John Crane has been unduly influenced by his father, or might compromise sensitive information by talking to him. The answer to that question could be “no.” It is terrifying beyond belief to consider that no one at the Defense Department had the desire, or maybe the courage, to ask.