Retired Adm. James A. Lyons took to the Washington Times today to push the burgeoning Homeland-inspired conspiracy theory that John Brennan, President Obama’s nominee to lead the CIA, is a Saudi secret agent.
The theory was first cooked up by John Guandolo, a former FBI agent who resigned from his job after he was charged with having an affair with a star witness in the corruption trial of former congressman William Jefferson, among other improprieties. He has since made a career promoting anti-Muslim conspiracies.
In the Washington Times, Lyons writes that Saudi Arabia’s “recruitment of Mr. Brennan to the ideology of Islam” makes him a security risk.
“It’s interesting that no counterintelligence alarm was triggered at the time that this alleged conversion was occurring,” Lyons writes. This could, of course, be because there is no proof it ever happened. But Lyons supposes, “Most likely, that’s because at that time the sophisticated Islamic objectives driving the global jihad movement by the Muslim Brotherhood were not understood by those who witnessed his ‘conversion.’”
Lyons goes on to claim that Brennan has a “track record of empowering the Muslim Brotherhood both domestically and abroad” and “allowed the jihadist enemy access to the highest level of government,” such as in his meetings with “terrorists like Nihad Awad.”
For the record, Awad is the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Two key national security nominations by President Obama are up for confirmation following Congress‘ recess this week: former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense, and John O. Brennan, the president’s key counterterrorism adviser, to be the director of the CIA. Both candidates have had to address issues based on their past and current activities and associations. Troublingly, a number of questions still remain unanswered.
One explosive issue is a report by John Guandolo that broke last week on Tom Trento’s “TrentoVision Show” and also was carried by Glenn Beck on Feb. 11. The report stated that Mr. Brennan was converted to Islam while CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia from 1996 to ‘99. Let’s be clear: In America, a man’s religion can never be a condition to his holding a government position. It is protected by both the First Amendment and Article 6 of the Constitution. Therefore, even if it is true that he converted, Mr. Brennan’s religion should not be an issue.
However, according to Mr. Guandolo — a former SWAT team leader at the FBI, counterterrorism and Muslim Brotherhood specialist and Marine platoon commander — what should be an issue was the Saudis’ targeted recruitment of Mr. Brennan to the ideology of Islam while he was serving as the CIA station chief in Riyadh. This was not just a conversion but a political act by a foreign intelligence service.
If verified, this would indicate Mr. Brennan’s susceptibility, whether witting or unwitting, to manipulation by a foreign intelligence entity. It’s interesting that no counterintelligence alarm was triggered at the time that this alleged conversion was occurring. Most likely, that’s because at that time the sophisticated Islamic objectives driving the global jihad movement by the Muslim Brotherhood were not understood by those who witnessed his “conversion.”
As Clare Lopez, from the Center for Security Policy, has pointed out, our counterintelligence defense system is broken. The Muslim Brotherhood’s core threat doctrine — the ideology of Islamic jihad and Shariah law — is seen as benign. Mr. Brennan’s activities as the president’s top counterterrorism adviser have been at the forefront in the Muslim Brotherhood effort in the United States. The Brotherhood has succeeded in convincing the U.S. government to remove from official documents and training curricula all references to Islamic doctrine, Shariah law and scriptures that relate them to terrorism. Further, scheduled lectures on the true threat from Islam have been canceled, and instructors have been barred from future presentations.
Mr. Brennan’s track record of empowering the Muslim Brotherhood both domestically and abroad allowed the jihadist enemy access to the highest level of government under the stealth guise of “nonviolent outreach partners.” For example, terrorists like Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations who has been linked to Hamas; and leaders from the Islamic Society of North America, unindicted co-conspirators from the Holy Land Foundation trial in 2008, work with national security staff providing input to U.S. counterterrorism strategies. That is hardly comforting.
It cannot be denied that U.S. policy on Islam, Shariah law and the Muslim Brotherhood in particular has undergone a sea change during the time Mr. Brennan has had influence on our national security. Certainly, Mr. Brennan cannot be confirmed until a full vetting has taken place.