Here's the latest glimpse into the paranoid worldview of Rep. Sue Myrick: the North Carolina congresswoman actually canceled her appearances at Sept. 11 memorial events over the weekend after her name appeared in a banal article about Islamophobia on the website of an Iranian TV station.
This is what Myrick told the Charlotte Observer about her decision:
Myrick, a House Intelligence Committee member who has been outspoken about the threat of radical Islamists, said intelligence sources told her that her name was on a state-sanctioned list published last week in Iran.
"It named some individuals they don't like ... people they said were working against (them)," said Myrick, who added that the list also included "a couple of others," including other members of Congress, "who work on the (terrorism) issue." She said she didn't want to identify them.
She said the decision to cancel was hers, "after talking to people whose opinion I respect."
Myrick was apparently referring to this banal re-write of a Center for American Progress (CAP) report on anti-Muslim activism in the United States. It appeared on the website of Press TV, an Iranian state owned station that broadcasts in English and often lifts articles from the American press -- sometimes verbatim. (Salon covered the same CAP report last month.)
Here is the entire Myrick section in the Press TV report, which she interpreted as a threat:
In January 2007, Rep. Myrick claimed to be concerned that President George W. Bush and other officials were not taking the threat of “Islamofacism infiltration” seriously enough-and so she founded the Anti-Terrorism Caucus.
Today, she is a leading opponent of Muslims and Islam on the Hill, and now chairs the House Intelligence Subcommittee on Terrorism, Human Intelligence, Analysis and Counterintelligence.
In April she held her own hearings on the threat of the Muslim Brotherhood and their influence and ties with Muslim American organizations.
Rep. Myrick even launched a YouTube video series to warn the American public of Muslim extremists among us who “are now in positions in our government.
I've asked a spokeswoman for Myrick, who is a member of the Intelligence Committee, about the identity of the "intelligence sources" who warned about the Press TV report. It seems unlikely that these sources were affiliated with any legitimate government agency, as none of the other five members of Congress in the Press TV list -- nor others in the article such as Franklin Graham and Pat Robertson -- appear to have canceled their 9/11 anniversary schedules. If I hear back I will update this post.
Myrick told the Observer: "I live with threats every day; that's my life." She also pointed out to reporters that she wore a bullet proof vest during her time as mayor of Charlotte, for reasons that are not clear.
Members of Congress should, of course, respond to credible threats and take necessary security precautions. But in Myrick's case, a strain of extreme, sometimes bizarre paranoia has characterized her entire political career.
In 2003, while speaking about domestic terrorism, she famously remarked, "Look at who runs all the convenience stores across the country." In 2009 she led a campaign to root out Muslim intern spies on Capitol Hill, despite no evidence of any intern spying.
And in 2010, she fired off a letter to the Obama administration warning that Hezbollah was operating on the U.S.-Mexico border. As evidence she cited unnamed but "well trained" officials who had noticed Farsi language tattoos on gang members in prison, and also the fact that the borderlands near San Diego are topographically similar to the area where Hezbollah operates in Lebanon. That was sourced to former intelligence officials whom she also declined to name. The Department of Homeland Security said at the time there was no "credible information" that Hezbollah was operating along the border.