Mitt Romney hasn’t yet publicly stated his view on the witch hunt against Muslim-Americans in the Obama administration supported by Michele Bachmann. But today his foreign policy adviser, former Bush administration official John Bolton, defended Bachmann and her allies in an appearance on anti–Muslim, anti–Obama conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney’s radio show. Bolton told Gaffney, a birther who helped stoke the witch hunt, that he was “mystified” by the criticism of Bachmann and that she was “simply raising the question.” Bachmann, for her part, is beyond raising questions: last week she declared that “there has been deep penetration in the halls of our United States government by the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Gaffney: John Bolton, one of the hot house issues in Washington at the moment that speaks to this point you just made about American decline and aiding and abetting our enemies under the Obama administration involves the Muslim Brotherhood. It’s not just that we’ve helped bring them to power in Egypt and are otherwise emboldening them, you mentioned that they are a likely successor to Bashar Assad in Syria. But here at home as well, five congresspeople including Michele Bachmann have been pressing for investigations into the extent to which some of these policies that we’ve been adopting, both abroad and here, might have something to do with influence operations aimed at and actually successfully inside the wire in our government. What do you make of this controversy and particularly the criticisms, the vicious criticisms, that have been mounted against these folks for their warnings from within their own ranks?
Bolton: I’ve been subject to how many security clearance procedures and I must say as irritating as some people may find them I think they are absolutely essential to making sure that people who work in sensitive positions in the national security field in our government are entirely loyal to the United States. I just think that’s an absolute, fundamental prerequisite. Now people find them intrusive, they find them inconvenient, my response is, that’s just too bad. What I think these members of Congress have done is simply raise the question, to a variety of inspectors general in key agencies, are your departments following their own security clearance guidelines, are they adhering to the standards that presumably everybody who seeks a security clearance should have to go through, are they making special exemptions? What is wrong with raising the question? Why is even asking whether we are living up to our standards a legitimate area of congressional oversight, why has that generated this criticism? I’m just mystified by it.
Gaffney: I think it has a lot to do with both shooting the messenger and trying to deflect attention from what is a huge, yawning and very serious vulnerability of this president, especially now as this election gets down to the clinches.
This leaves Bolton opposed to Republicans including John McCain, Marco Rubio, Scott Brown, John Boehner, Mike Rogers, Jim Sensenbrenner, and even Bachmann’s former campaign manager, all of whom have spoken out against Bachmann’s McCarthyism.
Earlier in the program, Bolton suggested that Obama’s speeches that have been “patriotic and laudatory of our troops” are only a campaign tactic. The president, he says, is “comfortable with the decline of American influence in the world.”
Bolton: He’s realized he is in the middle of a very closely fought election campaign and suddenly the rhetoric is patriotic and laudatory of our troops. But the fact is his policies have cost the United States around the world, he has withdrawn combat forces from Iraq, he plans to do it from Afghanistan, the rest of the world sees an American retreat, the budget sequestration mechanism on top of the nearly a trillion dollars of cuts and defense spending that Obama himself imposed, I think even his own defense secretary said would cripple our military. We are in very grave shape and yet the president, as he has done consistently on economic or foreign policy, talks about doing the exact opposite of what his policies are and of course the media give him a free pass on it. Nobody should be under any illusions, this is a president comfortable with the decline of American influence in the world and he is watching it happen.
Gaffney: Well, I would argue he is accelerating it at every turn.