Suhail Khan has seen this happen before. He was working as a senior political appointee for the Bush White House through Sept. 11, 2001, until this past January.
The same crowd of what he calls “professional bigots” — people, he says, like Frank Gaffney and Dave Gaubatz — have launched campaigns against specific Muslims working in the government, accusing them of terrorist sympathies.
The only thing different about the call by four House Republicans this week for authorities to investigate alleged “infiltration” of the Hill by Muslim interns, Khan told TPMmuckraker today, is that “they’re not going after individuals by name.”
“Hill staffers are very attention-adverse. They just want to do their job, just be professionals,” says Khan, who worked on the Hill for a Republican lawmaker and then at the Office of Public Liaison and the Department of Transportation under George W. Bush. “So these types of allegations are increasingly stressful and cause otherwise good loyal Americans to worry about their jobs, their potential for advancement.
Indeed, the Muslim Staffers Association told us it would not release a statement on the “intern spy” hunt.
Now the Fellow for Christian-Muslim Understanding at the Institute for Global Engagement, Khan says he thinks the types of charges made by the four Republicans this week could have a chilling effect on young Muslims considering careers in Washington.
And the high-profile charges have an effect on the other side of the job equation, too. “Really what they’re trying to do here is to scare otherwise thoughtful members and chiefs of staff from hiring Muslims.”
Discussing characters like Gaubatz, Khan is withering. “Their MO is very insidious. They try to either smear Americans by guilt-by-association tactics, as they are in this case. Or they just kind of fear-monger by raising the specter of terrorism and extremism.”
But he holds a charitable view of the lawmakers who have launched the “intern spy” campaign.
“Some perfectly well-meaning members — Myrick, Shadegg, Broun, and Franks, who I’ve met and are good people — have been really duped by this Gaubatz character.”