A former Bush administration appointee says claims that Muslim intern "spies" are infiltrating Congress are the product of "professional bigots" who are exploiting post-9/11 fears to make money.
Suhail Khan, who worked as a press secretary for a Republican congressman before joining the Department of Transportation under President George W. Bush, told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow that the four Republican members of Congress who are pushing for an investigation into Muslim "infiltration" of Congress were "duped" by the authors of a new book claiming to expose a hidden agenda in the Muslim lobby in Washington.
"These same professional bigots, as I call them, have gone after other Muslim-Americans serving their government in past years, in the Bush administration when I was serving," Khan said on The Rachel Maddow Show. "And now they're going after Muslim staffers, starting with interns. I guess if you know how to make coffee and answer the phone, next thing you do, you'll be taking over the world."
Last week, four House Republicans -- Paul Broun (R-GA), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Sue Myrick (R-NC) and John Shadegg (R-AZ) -- announced they would be asking the House sergeant-at-arms to investigate claims in a new book that the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the largest Muslim lobby group in DC, is trying to plant Muslim spies as interns on the Hill.
CAIR met those allegations with outrage and ridicule, saying that the evidence the authors mustered amounts to little more than records of typical lobbying activities.
As Maddow pointed out on her show Tuesday night, the book in question -- Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That's Conspiring to Islamize America -- was published by WorldNetDaily, a conservative news site best known for promoting conspiracy theories such as the claim that the Obama administration is setting up concentration camps for conservatives.
"It's really insidious, because not only do they go after these innocent Americans who just want to serve their country, but really they're making money off it and that's what this is all about," Khan said. "They've duped these members of Congress, pushed them out in traffic on these charges that are completely baseless, really to sell books. It's about fear-mongering and about money."
As Maddow reported, the four congresspeople who announced the Muslim intern conspiracy have so far failed to ask the House's sergeant-at-arms to investigate the book's allegations, despite holding a press conference demanding exactly that.
A spokesperson for Rep. Myrick -- who also wrote the foreword to Muslim Mafia -- said the request for an investigation would be filed within the next few days, but "did not explain the delay," Justin Elliott reported at TalkingPointsMemo.
"It was interesting that they actually had their press conference a couple days before book release," Khan remarked. "If this was really about national security, you'd go to the authorities and say, 'You've got to stop this and stop it now.'"
Khan suggested part of the point of the allegations is to scare elected officials away from hiring Muslims.
"Not only does it scare members of Congress [away from hiring] Muslim-Americans ... but even those that are working there now are being called in sometimes by their chiefs of staff -- I know of one instance where this has happened -- and being questioned about this.
"We've seen this before, whether it was Jewish-Americans at the turn of the century, Italian-Americans and Catholics.... Unfortunately at different times in our history, some -- a very select few -- have fear-mongered ... about different Americans, whether they be Mormons, Catholics, Jewish-Americans and now, after 9/11, it's Muslim-Americans."
This video is from MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Oct. 19, 2009.