Las Vegas Sun

October 9, 2015

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Sun Editorial:

A baseless attack

McCarthy-era tactics can’t be allowed to go unchallenged in Washington

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Conservative firebrand Rep. Michele Bachmann and four of her congressional colleagues have demanded an investigation into what they say is a move by radical Islamists to insert themselves into the highest reaches of the federal government.

They sent letters this month to five inspectors general and the White House, complaining that the Muslim Brotherhood is trying to influence government leaders, a potential “security risks for this nation, its people and interests.”

Bachmann and company pointed to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s longtime aide Huma Abedin, darkly suggesting that she was somehow connected to terrorist groups. They imply that since Abedin has worked for the State Department, U.S. policy has become more sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood.

With the real threat of terrorism, these are very serious allegations, especially considering that Bachmann and two of the letter signers are members of the House Intelligence Committee.

However, these members of Congress haven’t offered any real proof. Instead, they have relied on rumor, innuendo and things they found on the Internet.

Given the gravity of their allegations, that is unconscionable. They have smeared the name of Abedin and others without any evidence. This is reminiscent of the McCarthy era, when a whisper of a connection to Communism was enough to scuttle a reputation and sink a career. Never mind if any of that was true.

Abedin’s alleged sin is that she has three family members, including her father who has been dead for two decades, who supposedly had or have connections to members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Given that Abedin’s family has roots in the Middle East, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they knew someone associated with the group. But that doesn’t mean that Abedin has a link to terrorism just because she’s related to someone who knows someone who knows someone.

If it did, Congress should watch out. We’re sure if we looked at the family of anyone in Congress, much less the people they know, that we would find sketchy characters and some “ties” to illicit activity.

The initial response to the attack on Abedin was unfortunately tepid until Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., went to the Senate floor and offered a strong defense of Abedin. He rebuked Bachmann and her colleagues, saying the attacks “have no logic, no basis, and no merit.”

The allegations Bachmann and her colleagues made have real-life consequences. Last week, it was reported that a man in New Jersey had threatened Abedin.

The actions of these members of Congress can’t go unchallenged. As McCain put it:

“When anyone, not least a member of Congress, launches specious and degrading attacks against fellow Americans on the basis of nothing more than fear of who they are and ignorance of what they stand for, it defames the spirit of our nation, and we all grow poorer because of it.”

The House should take a strong stand against the actions of Bachmann and her colleagues. The evil of McCarthyism can’t be allowed to fester.

The publisher of this newspaper has known Huma Abedin for many years. She is a good and dear friend. She is also an American of sterling character, incredible work ethic and a dedication to everything good for which this nation stands. She is the last person who should have anyone attack her patriotism or her motivation.

Least of all someone like Bachmann and her ilk whose credibility quotients are substandard, at best. This newspaper also has had an up close and personal relationship with the late Sen. Joe McCarthy, a discredited political hack who ruined many innocent American lives and brought disgrace to the U.S. Senate. He was ultimately censured.

Given Bachmann’s outrageous conduct against Abedin, it is hard to tell where McCarthyism ended and Bachmann’s version of the guilt-by-association scourge has begun.

When McCarthy was finally challenged by a fearful nation, it was done simply with this: “You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?”

To which we would say to Bachmann and those who allow her to continue her un-American activities: You, too, have done enough. Have you also no sense of decency?

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