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Congressman Wolf's attempt to silence a leading American Muslim civil advocacy group

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In an apparent attempt to silence a leading American Muslim civil rights advocacy group – the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) - Republican Congressman Frank Wolf from Virginia has expressed deep disappointment at the FBI’s “insufficient response” to his letter that apparently sought negative information based on smears against CAIR by Muslim-bashers like Steven Emerson.

In a letter sent to FBI on February 2, Rep. Wolf asked

Has the FBI severed ties with CAIR? If so, how is the FBI planning to formally notify Members of Congress and other government officials of this decision?

If FBI policy has changed with regard to CAIR, is there any indication that this decision is being revisited by the new administration? If so, what new evidence would justify a change in course?

Is CAIR's national office still in contact with the FBI?

The (FOX) report quotes Assistant Director John Miller from the FBI Office of Public Affairs as saying: "The FBI has had to limit its formal contact with CAIR field offices until certain issues are addressed by CAIR's national headquarters." What specifically are the "certain issues" which you have raised with CAIR? Is there still informal contact with any field offices? If so, what is the distinction between formal and informal and why is there a distinction between field offices?

To your knowledge, does CAIR receive financial contributions from foreign sources? If so, which ones and how much?

Congressman Frank Wolf, who has a track record of anti-Muslim bearing, sent this letter after the FOX News reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has cut off ties with CAIR "amid mounting evidence that it has links to a support network for Hamas." Given that Hamas is on the current list of U.S. designated foreign terrorist organizations, this is obviously a serious claim, one which would rightly inform a shift in FBI policy, the Wolf wrote.

In response, John Miller, Assistant Director Office of Public Affairs wrote: “As you know, we recently acknowledged that we have suspended any formal engagement with Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) field offices around the country. "Formal" relationships as defined here means appointing or accepting CAIR or its representatives on any organized committee or group sponsored by the FBI. However, representatives of CAIR have the same access to the FBI as any other persons and are encouraged to report any crime or violation of civil rights.

“Members of the United States Government, especially those serving in a law enforcement capacity, have a duty to be judicious in our activities as representatives of the Federal Government. The adjustment in our contacts with CAIR comes in part as a result of evidence gathered through FBI investigation and presented in connection with the Holy Land Foundation trial. CAIR was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in that case.”

However, Rep. Wolf was not satisfied with the FBI answer and on March 9 sent another letter which said: I was deeply disappointed with the FBI's response-hand-delivered to my office last Friday-to my letter of February 2 inquiring about the Bureau's position on meeting with the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).

I would like these questions fully answered by this Friday, March 13, and by someone who works on counter-terrorism, rather than a public affairs officer. Other members of Congress, both House and Senate, have expressed interest in and additional information about the Bureau's position as it relates to CAIR. I would think the Bureau would be embarrassed to send the insufficient response I received.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has charged that Rep. Frank Wolf has “abused his office” by seeking to pressure the FBI to produce negative information about the Muslim civil rights and advocacy group.

Wolf’s attempt to obtain negative information to be used against CAIR may stem from CAIR’s long history of criticism of the Virginia congressman’s political stances.

“It appears that Congressman Wolf is seeking payback for all the times CAIR and American Muslims have challenged his political positions using their constitutionally-protected right to petition elected representatives,” said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. “It is unfortunate that Wolf has abused his office to pressure a government agency to target those he obviously views as political opponents. Public office should be used to serve the people, not to pursue personal vendettas.”

Awad cited the numerous times CAIR “butted heads” with Wolf over the past 12 years:

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
 
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is my Member in the House of Representatives. No ... by Elizabeth Molchany on Sunday, Mar 22, 2009 at 1:43:01 AM
Frank Wolf.   So many innocent people ha... by Elizabeth Molchany on Sunday, Mar 22, 2009 at 8:21:02 AM
Frank Wolf.   So many innocent people ha... by Elizabeth Molchany on Sunday, Mar 22, 2009 at 8:32:06 AM