The imam at the center of the Ground Zero mosque controversy is being sent on a 15-day goodwill tour of the Middle East -- by the U.S. State Department. And American taxpayers are picking up the $16,000 tab for Feisal Abdul Rauf. This is the fella who said America essentially brought upon itself the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He also refuses to call Hamas the terrorist group that it is.Where to begin? Let's take a look at that last sentence. The fourth time, huh? I can hear everyone wondering: when were the previous three?
And this isn't the imam's first tour "to promote religious tolerance." It's his fourth on the public dime. [emphasis added]
Take a look:
[State Department spokesman P.J.] Crowley said this will be Rauf's fourth U.S.-government sponsored trip under a program run by the State Department's Bureau of International Information Programs. Earlier, the State Department had said it was his third trip.On the public's dime?? The outrage!
Crowley said Rauf had traveled twice to the Middle East in 2007 during the Bush administration and once earlier this year.
Funny how the Trib didn't mention that a full half of the trips "on the public's dime" occurred during the Bush Administration. Especially in an op-ed calling it an example "of pure idiocy being sold as 'good public policy.'"
Some context. On how the US "essentially brought upon itself the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11" let's take a look at actually what the Imam said. He was being interviewed by Ed Bradley of 60 Minutes:
Bradley: Are you in any way suggesting that we in the United States deserved what happened?But is this a radical idea? Hardly. Take a look at this from the LA Times in 1998. Graham Fuller is looking to explain the terrorist mindset and after asking, "What do the terrorists perceive? He gives this answer:
Faisal: I wouldn't say that the United States deserved what happened, but united states policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.
Bradley: You say that we're an accessory? How?
Faisal: Because we have been accessory to a lot of innocent lives dying in the world. In fact, in the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the USA.
U.S. support for almost any ruler willing to protect U.S. interests--routinely identified in Washington as oil and Israel. They see a Washington unwilling to act evenhandedly in the Arab-Israeli peace process and infinitely tolerant of a hard-line government in Israel that denies Palestinians land, dignity and statehood. They perceive double standards that allow Israel to violate U.N. resolutions, but not Iraq; that Israeli nukes are OK, but not nukes in Muslim hands. They see routine use of U.S. unilateral military power against Muslim targets that is unparalleled elsewhere in the world. They see themselves routinely humbled by use of overwhelming Israeli military power. They see U.S. military forces in the Gulf as being there to protect ruling families and not populations--the essence of Osama bin Laden's charge.So of course when essentially the same idea comes out of an Islamic Imam, he's so radical he's almost a terrorist himself.
* Again, it's not at Ground Zero and it's not a mosque - but other than that, the label is completely accurate.