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McCain rubbishes charges against Clinton's aide Abedin

July 19, 2012 12:03 IST

US Senator John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee in 2008, and considered the GOP's foreign policy guru, Wednesday took to the Senate floor to defend nasty and unproven accusations by a coterie of right-wing House Republicans often referred to as the 'lunatic fringe' of the Party, that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's South Asian American Deputy Chief of Staff, Huma Abedin was part of a conspiracy by the Muslim Brotherhood to infiltrate the US government.

McCain, said the accusations made by the five House Republicans, led by US Representative Michele Bachman, the darling of the Tea Party, who failed miserably in her bid to gain the Republican presidential nomination this year, "are nothing less than an unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honourable woman, a dedicated American, and a loyal public servant."

Abedin, 37, a long-time aide and confidante to Clinton, who is often photographed standing behind Clinton, and is married to the former US Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York, has been accused by Minnesota Congresswoman Bachman and Representatives Trent Franks of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Tom Rooney of Florida, and Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia, as being a terrorist sympathiser and  part of a conspiracy to advance Islamic causes within the US government and thus is a threat to national security.

These lawmakers, all rabidly anti-Muslim, who are paranoid that there is a conspiracy afoot to impose Sharia law in the US by these alleged infiltrators of "civilizational jihad,"  last week wrote to the inspectors general of five national security agencies demanding investigations into alleged "deep penetration" by the Muslim Brotherhood in their ranks.

They questioned as to why Abedin was able to receive top security clearance despite having family members that these lawmakers believed are connected to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Abedin's father, Syed Zainul Abedin, was born in what was then British India in 1928 and was an alumnus of Aligarh Muslim University and later received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. He died in 1993 when was Abedin, who was born and raised in Kalamazoo, Michigan, was 17. Her mother, a Pakistani, also received her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and is currently an associate professor of sociology at Dar Al-Hekma College in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

McCain in his floor speech defending Abedin against these accusations, said, "Over the past decade, I have had the pleasure of coming to know Huma during her long and dedicated service to Hillary Rodham Clinton, both in the United States Senate and now in the Department of State."

"I know Huma to be an intelligent, upstanding, hard-working, and loyal servant of our country and our government, who has devoted countless days of her life to advancing the ideals of the nation she loves and looking after its most precious interests," he said, and added: "That she has done so while maintaining her characteristic decency, warmth, and good humor is a testament to her ability to bear even the most arduous duties with poise and confidence."

McCain said, "Put simply, Huma represents what is best about America -- the daughter of immigrants, who has risen to the highest levels of our government on the basis of her substantive personal merit and her abiding commitment to the American ideals that she embodies so fully. I am proud to know Huma, and to call her my friend."

He then went on to slam the Center for Security Policy, headed by Frank Gaffney, the source of the accusations by the five House Republicans, who had relied on a report put out by Gaffney's organisation titled, 'The Muslim Brotherhood in America.' Gaffney has been described by the Southern Poverty Law Center -- the leading US organization that tracks racist and hate-crimes -- as an anti-Muslim, anti-Islam conspiracy theorist, whose views have been widely discredited, including by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and even conservative groups.

In their letter to the inspectors general of the various US agencies, including the departments of Homeland Security, Justice and State, Bachman and the gang of five, alleges that three members of Abedin's family are 'connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organisations.'

McCain, ridiculing these charges, noted, "Never mind that one of those individuals, Huma's father, passed away two decades ago," and pointed out that "the letter and the report offer not one instance of an action, a decision, or a public position that Huma has taken while at the State Department that would lend credence to the charge that she is promoting anti-American activities within our government."

"Nor does either document offer any evidence of a direct impact that Huma may have had had on one on the US policies with which the authors of the letter and the producers of the report find fault."

McCain angrily declared, "These sinister accusations rest solely on a few unspecified and unsubstantiated associations of members of Huma's family, none of which have been shown to harm or threaten the United States in any way. These attacks on Huma have no logic, no basis, and no merit. And they need to stop now."

He said, "Ultimately, what is at stake in this matter is larger even than the reputation of one person. This is about who we are as a nation, and who we still aspire to be. What makes America exceptional among the countries of the world is that we are bound together as citizens not by blood of class, not by sect or ethnicity, but by a set of enduring, universal and equal rights that are the foundation of our constitution, our laws, our citizenry, and our identity."

Thus, McCain, continues to lambaste this gang of five, said, "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."

"Our reputations, our character, are the only things we leave behind when we depart this earth," he said, and reiterated that "unjust attacks that malign the good name of a decent and honourable person is not only wrong, it is contrary to everything we hold dear as Americans."

McCain said, "I have every confidence in Huma's loyalty to our country, and everyone else should as well. All Americans owe Huma a debt of gratitude for her many years of superior public service."

He then called for "these ugly and unfortunate attacks," against Abedin "be immediately brought to an end and put behind us before any further damage is done to a woman, an American, of genuine patriotism and love of country."

The controversy comes at a time when People Magazine published interview with Abedin and her husband Weiner, about their reconciliation process since Weiner had to resign his Congressional position in disgrace after it was found that he had sent lewd pictures of himself to women via Twitter, hardly a year into his marriage to Abedin.

In the interview with People, Abedin, said, "It took a lot of work to get where we are today, but I want people to know we're a normal family."

She said, "Anthony has spent every day since (the scandal broke that led to his resignation) trying to be the best dad and husband he can be. I am proud to be married to him."

Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC