March 17, 2015


How the NRA's Internal Election Became a Civil War Over Radical Islam (David Weigel, 3/16/15, Bloomberg)

The Beck interview mostly covered old terrain. Gaffney's attacked Norquist in every available forum, accusing him of doing the Muslim Brotherhood's work in America. The allegations begin with the work Norquist started before 9/11, connecting the Republican Party with Muslim groups in an attempt to win over new voters. After 9/11, Norquist's lobbying took on an aura of controversy. In a November 2001 piece for The New Republic, Frank Foer reported that a "man who fingered Israel as a potential sponsor of the World Trade Center attacks" could recite "Norquist's phone number from memory." Into the Bush years, and the Obama years, Gaffney and the Center for Security Policy accused Norquist of serving as a conduit between Washington's elite and Muslims who ended up having ties to radical groups.

In 2011 and 2012, the campaign seemed to backfire on Gaffney. He used speeches at the Conservative Political Action Conference, with C-SPAN cameras running, to warn conservatives about Norquist and conservative activist Suhail Khan. Norquist appeared to end the controversy after Cleta Mitchell, an American Conservative Union board member and powerful attorney, met with Gaffney and rejected his research and theories. "I will work to ensure that any organization with which I am involved will not be allowed to be used as a platform to spread Mr. Gaffney's baseless attacks," wrote Mitchell in a 2012 letter to fellow ACU board members. In 2013, Gaffney was not invited to address CPAC; Breitbart News instead hosted a panel called, cheekily, "The Uninvited."

And Gaffney had an audience with Beck. In the new, viral clip about the NRA election, Beck professes that he's "not an expert" on Norquist. That's disingenuous; in 2013, Beck was hosting Gaffney and calling Norquist "the guy responsible for a lot of the Muslim Brotherhood stuff that goes on in the White House." He'd furthered that storyline, and Gaffney had certainly never given up on it. In February, filmmaker and journalist Lee Stranahan created a small Facebook group called "No on Norquist" as a way to share the reporting he'd done for the Center for Security Policy and to build awareness of the no-vote push. On conservative blogs, the word was getting around. One month ago, Norquist went on the record denouncing the campaigns against him, linking them (without a name) to Gaffney.

"I have such a stalker whose conspiracy theory is that I ran the Bush White House and presidency," Norquist wrote in a February open letter to the NRA. "He spins conspiracy theories that I am gay, a Muslim, responsible for the Bush foreign policy failures. (For the record, No. No. and No.) One of his staffers told me I was part of the Russian Jewish Mafia. (Also no, but I think that would pay better.)" [...]

If members vote out Norquist, it will be a tremendous social-media victory for Gaffney and his allies, and it would lend new attention to his larger campaign to find out whether the inner circle of Hillary Clinton, the presumptive 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, has been infiltrated.

"Her emails are of particular interest insofar as [Clinton aide Huma] Abedin has extensive ties to the Muslim Brotherhood," wrote Gaffney this month, referencing charges that surfaced in 2012, were denounced by leading Republicans, and remained potent in conservative media. "That's the Islamist organization whose self-declared mission is 'destroying Western civilization from within.'"

Fights like these are so bitter because the stakes are so small.

Posted by at March 17, 2015 7:16 PM

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