Michele Bachmann’s hateful cronies

She's taken the heat for her Muslim witch hunt, but what about the other congressmen who signed her letters?

Topics: Michele Bachmann, Trent Franks, Islam,

Michele Bachmann's hateful croniesClockwise from upper left: Louie Gohmert, Trent Franks, Thomas Rooney and Lynn Westmoreland (Credit: AP)

Rep. Michele Bachmann is standing by her quest to investigate unsubstantiated claims of Muslim Brotherhood infiltration in the U.S. government. Glenn Beck said on his radio program today that he spoke to the congresswoman this morning, who told him, “There are decent people up on the Hill that are trying to expose the Muslim Brotherhood, and it is spreading … This disease is spreading so rapidly, it is breathtaking.”

But it’s important to remember that while Bachmann has led this charge, four other members of Congress signed onto her initial round of letters demanding investigations from the inspectors general of five national security agencies, some of whom also have troubling records of Islamophobic conspiracy theorizing.

Rep. Trent Franks, a Republican from Arizona who signed onto Bachmann’s letter, joined three colleagues in 2009 to launch a similar witch hunt against Muslims on Capitol Hill that drew calls of McCarthyism. The four lawmakers alleged that the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a major mainstream Muslim group, was planting “spies” in lawmakers’ offices. Their evidence came from a book called “Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America.” Franks suspected that Muslim interns and junior staffers placed by CAIR were conspiring to kill the Patriot Act. “One of the target policies that they might be concerned about is the Patriot Act itself — those things that give us the greatest tools to be able to surveil those conversations outside of this country … and I think organizations like CAIR would like to diminish that,” he said.

As with Bachmann’s witch hunt, the lawmakers went public with their accusations before going to the authorities. “We have not received any request at this time,” a spokesman for the House sergeant-at-arms, who is responsible for keeping members safe, said at the time.

Rep. Louis Gohmert, meanwhile, was making up his own Muslim conspiracy theories before he signed on to Bachmann’s. The colorful Texas Republican, who is closely aligned with the Tea Party movement, took to the House floor and Fox Business in 2010 to warn the world about a flood of terrorist babies invading our shores from Muslim nations. “It appeared they would have young women who became pregnant [and] would get them into the United States to have a baby. They wouldn’t even have to pay anything for the baby,” Gohmert said on the floor in June of that year. “And then they would return back where they could be raised and coddled as future terrorists. And then one day, 20, 30 years down the road, they can be sent in to help destroy our way of life,” he explained.

Gohmert’s source on this explosive accusation was a retired FBI agent whom he met on an airplane, or at least someone who said she was a retired FBI agent. In a heated interview with Anderson Cooper, Gohmert lost control as he admitted he hadn’t contacted authorities about the terror babies. A former FBI official debunked the claim.

Georgia Rep. Lynn Westmoreland and Florida Rep. Tom Rooney also signed onto Bachmann’s letter, but this seems to be their first anti-Muslim rodeo. Westmoreland did, however, defend the investigation yesterday in an interview with a local TV news station, saying, “We just want to make sure they have understood and have looked at exactly what this group may be doing to participate, just like they have in other governments.”

UPDATE: Cracks may be beginning to emerge in the Bachmann’s cohort. In a statement this afternoon, Tom Rooney mostly defended the demand for investigation, but also walked back the accusations against Abedin a bit: “As a member of the House Armed Services and Intelligence Committees, my top priority is ensuring the security of our nation. The tragic events at Fort Hood in 2009 proved that our enemies will go to great lengths, including infiltrating and recruiting members of our military, to commit acts of terror against American citizens. I regret that Mrs. Abedin has become the media focus of this story, because the intention of the letters was to bring greater attention to a legitimate national security risk.”

Alex Seitz-Wald

Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon's political reporter. Email him at aseitz-wald@salon.com, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>