Nat Intel Misled Congress? Maybe not …

The irony in all this?  The established relationship
with U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entities
on February 2011 was actually with Congress …

In a recent Clarion article, Ryan Mauro presented  details how National Intelligence Director James Clapper misled Congress about Muslim Brotherhood contacts.   The piece begins with …

Newly declassified documents obtained by the Clarion Project show that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) misled members of Congress in 2012 about its involvement with Muslim Brotherhood-linked entities.

Further, the documents show that there were even a number of internal communications within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence expressing concerns about the Brotherhood links of these entities.

The story of the deception began when the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified to Congress on February 10, 2011 saying that the Muslim Brotherhood is “a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has described Al-Qaeda as a perversion of Islam.”

In the same hearing, Clapper was asked by Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) about the administration’s relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood. He answered, “There have been outreaches to the Muslim community in general, but I guess we’re not aware of any direct outreach to these particular organizations. That is, if you’re speaking domestically.”

While deception is definitely a concern, it should be noted that the keepers of our nation’s secrets tend to not be very forthcoming when testifying in open session.  In the above referenced testimony, those testifying clarified that they would provide additional details in closed session. 

Moving to a closed session is usually based on protecting  intel source collection or even  “black” program details.   It’s simply the nature of most agency directors handling classified programs to be cautious in open committee.  Some come off well polished … others not so much.  James Clapper’s various public appearances do not instill a very high level of confidence and he definitely falls into the latter category.

For example:

  • In December 2010, during an ABC interview Mr. Clapper was asked a question about a recent,  very high-profile terror arrest in London. He had no idea it occurred.
  • on March 12, 2013, during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing  Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked  Mr. Clapper if the NSA gathers “any type of data at all on millions of Americans.”  His reply was, “No, sir … Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly.”   This statement glaringly conflicts with  the leaks made by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
  • In Jun 2013,  Mr. Clapper attempted to clarify his response to Sen. Wyden during a NBC interview  advising that he was trying to answer in the “least untruthful” manner possible.  To add to the story, Sen. Wyden stated that he had sent his questions to Mr. Clapper a day in advance so that a proper answer could be provided.

There is little debate that Mr. Clapper’s track record in front of the camera leaves much to be desired. 

To Clapper’s credit, the Clarion article by Mr. Mauro focuses on the director’s testimony of February 2011, yet the featured declassified documents reference  meetings with Muslim Brotherhood (MB) groups in 2012.   Additionally, the heavily redacted emails from prior to 2011, appear to be internal memos related to collections activity and the possibility of “engagement”  with individuals that are MB members.  Since the documents refer to meetings a year after the testimony, there’s little, if any, evidence being presented in the Clarion article that supports an established relationship  with Muslim Brotherhood-linked entities for the February 2011 time frame.  

Keep in mind that at the time of Clapper’s testimony,  it had been several years since the FBI “officially” cut ties with the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).

In all fairness, the Clarion article did mention ISNA President Imam Mohamed Magid but this was in regards to an ODNI  meeting in 2012 – a year after Clapper’s 2011 Congressional testimony.   A more relevant item would have been  Magid’s 2010 appointment to the Department of Homeland Security’s Countering Violent Extremism Working Group,  however this affiliation simply lists Magid as Executive Director of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society.

It should be mentioned why Director Clapper may have been somewhat evasive with his answers – events in Libya …

The Libyan civil war had kicked off during the same week of the Congressional testimony and plans called for the U.S. backed National Transitional Council of Libya to take control.   The two University of Alabama college professors, Abdurrahim El-Keib and Mustafa A.G. Abushagur, that headed the interim government in late 2011 were most likely vetted through MB leaders in the U.S.  An arrangement that was firmed up around the the time of the creation of the Libyan Council of North America in April 2011.

So did Director Clapper mislead Congress?  The Clarion documentation misses the timeline and it is not known what information was discussed in the closed session(s).   It’s tough to give a firm yes or no.

The irony in all this?  The established relationship with U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entities on February 2011 was actually with Congress and MB’s “point man” Mouaz Moustafa.  Moustafa had been a congressional staffer since 2008 and a member of  the now defunct, Congressional Muslim Staff Association (CMSA).  He  became director of the Libyan Council of North America in may 2011.

Moustafa was recently involved in Senator McCain’s support efforts with Syria.  He is now the Executive Director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF).  A Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch report details SETF ties to U.S. MB groups.

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