On Friday night's edition of "The Rachel Maddow Show," host Rachel Maddow discussed the strange decision by vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) to speak at a right wing fringe conference on Friday alongside a man who bills himself as a "former terrorist."
Friday was a solemn day that saw the bodies of four State Department personnel killed in the violence in Libya returning home, with speeches by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. And while it is becoming clearer that the assault on the U.S. embassy in Libya was a planned, paramilitary assault by operatives who are now believed to have connections to al Qaeda, the violent uprisings across the Middle East this week have largely been connected to the badly-made, anti-Islam trailer for the film "The Innocence of Muslims."
The films has spawned a series of riots at the gates of U.S. facilities overseas, largely as a result of paranoia and anger spread via conspiracy theorists and fringe radicals on both sides, from Florida pastor Terry Jones to the purported al Qaeda militants in Benghazi, Libya.
"Which brings us, weirdly, to the Republican vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan's decision," she said, in the midst of the crisis, to speak at the Values Voter Summit, a hard-right conference that features appearances by a a right wing agitator named Frank Gaffney.
Gaffney is an anti-Islamist who trucks in elaborate conspiracy theories, and who authored a 10-part video series called, "The Muslim Brotherhood in America: The Enemy Within," which makes all manner of wild allegations that the U.S. government has been infiltrated by Islamic extremists, including Secretary of State Clinton's top aide, Huma Abedin, wife of disgraced congressman Rep. Anthony Weiner.
Earlier this year, Secretary Clinton's motorcade was attacked in Egypt after Gaffney spread a rumor through right wing websites that Clinton had rigged the Egyptian elections to favor the Muslim Brotherhood. The charges were taken seriously by parties opposed to the Brotherhood in Egypt, resulting in the eruption of violence.
"That's these guys," Maddow said of the Values Voters Summit. "That's the event Paul Ryan spoke at today."
Another interesting speaker, whose name is next to Ryan's in the Values Voter summit is Kamal Saleem, who, in his official bio, is listed as "author, comma, former terrorist." Saleem claims to be a former Muslim extremist who was converted to Christianity, although, Maddow points out, "the FBI is not at all interested in him."
Saleem speaks to Christian groups and spins an elaborate conspiracy theory claiming to have been part of a covert Islamic jihad aimed at taking over the U.S. through the university system and President Obama's administration. Obama, he says, is "secretly praying Muslim prayers when it looks like President Obama is praying to the American flag, he is secretly praying Muslim prayers." He also claims that if the federal government relaxes immigration laws, "we'll all be wearing ragheads."
"As our embassies burned today," said Maddow, "Paul Ryan spoke today at this event just a little while before Kamal Saleem did."
Watch the clip, which aired Friday, September 14, and is embedded via MSNBC, below: