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I never thought I'd find myself defending Karen Hughes, so this is a big deal.

Ms. Hughes, you will recall, is the Good Friend of Bush (GFOB) who was one of Dubya's closest confidantes in Texas and later in the White House. After taking a sabbatical from playing Karl Rove in Drag, she returned to Washington to become Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy.

Now I am not exactly Ms. Hughes' biggest fan. I remember writing at the time of her nomination to be America's image-maker to the world that I couldn't think of a less qualified person to take on this arguably impossible job. And over time she unfortunately proved me right.

But now, departed again from Washington, here she is being attacked by a guy with even less credibility.

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That guy is Steve Emerson, the once-ubiquitous self-proclaimed anti-terrorist "expert," who sees Islamic militant bomb throwers under every rock and describes Islam as a faith that "sanctions genocide, planned genocide, as part of its religious doctrine."

In an article in my favorite hysterical neocon rag, NewsMax, Hughes is accused of funneling "millions of dollars in U.S. government grants to radical Islamist organizations, many of whose leaders have been                       convicted or indicted in terrorism cases in the United States."

When I noticed the byline on this piece, I should have known it wouldn't pass the smell test. It was written by one Kenneth R. Timmerman.
Timmerman, of course, is the author of one of the truly wonderful pieces of disinformation published by Insight Magazine of the right-of-Genghis-Khan Washington Times in 2002. In that gem, Timmerman confirmed Saddam Hussein's possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

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The source of his "intelligence"? None other than Ahmad Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress. The headline read: "How Saddam Got Weapons of Mass Destruction: Saddam Hussein's War Machine Is Being Built Systematically to Strike At the United States With New Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Weapons Designed to Kill Millions."

Awesome scoop, Ken!

So in his latest riff, Timmerman reports on Emerson's testimony to a Congressional committee.

Emerson told the House International Relations Committee: "When Ms. [Karen] Hughes was appointed as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, she set the tone to continue a disastrous policy of outreach with Islamist partners." Many of the leaders of these "radical Islamist organizations" have been "convicted or indicted in terrorism cases in the United States."

Well, just who are these "many"?

Emerson cites but one -- the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), which he describes as "a Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated organization, [which] was an unindicted co-conspirator in last year's terrorist financing trial against the Holy Land Foundation," Emerson told Congress. What he neglected to tell the lawmakers is that the Justice Department designated just about everyone except Adam's housecat as an "unindicted co-conspirator" in that case - and that a jury exonerated the Foundation.

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Emerson also charges that State Department grants went to the Muslim       Public Affairs Council (MPAC), which he described as a group that has          "publicly challenged the designation of Hezbollah and Hamas as terrorist organizations" (a canard often repeated by Islamophobics that has yet to be substantiated by any facts).

MPAC was but one in a long catalog of organizations Emerson accused of supporting terrorist causes. He said, "A number of groups that the State Department has funded or collaborated with have links to entities such as al-Qaida, Hamas and Hezbollah, all of which are designated as terrorist organizations by the United States government." But he was a bit light on citing a single fact to support this claim. Like none.

He declared that the outreach policy championed by Hughes "legitimizes Islamism to the world and sends mixed messages to our allies, while sending a terrible message to moderate Muslims who are thoroughly disenfranchised by the funding." 

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William Fisher has managed economic development programs in the Middle East and elsewhere for the US State Department and the US Agency for International Development. He served in the international affairs area in the Kennedy Administration and now (more...)

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