Alec “the Bloviator” Baldwin has a new bosom buddy: Beltway Republican strategist Grover Norquist.
The Bush-bashing actor-turned-activist and the Muslim vote-courting political organizer joined together at a Washington, D.C.-area conference last weekend to perpetuate bald lies about the Patriot Act and to oppose the “repressive” War on Terror (repressing terrorist suspects apparently being a bad thing).
Baldwin and Norquist’s panel, titled “Strange Bedfellows,” was sponsored by the ultraliberal group People For the American Way. When PFAW head and panel participant Ralph Neas ranted about the lack of judicial and congressional oversight of the Justice Department’s terror investigations, the audience applauded passionately. According to National Review Online reporter Byron York, Baldwin (the “moderator”) then turned to Norquist for comment.
“Ditto,” Norquist replied. Never mind the flat-out falsity of Neas’ claim. The smarmy Baldwin looked at his panelists and proudly remarked: “Can’t you feel the love?”
Blech. Wasn’t he supposed to have left our country by now? If Alec Baldwin ever does make good on his election-year promise, he should buy an extra Louis Vuitton suitcase and pack up Grover Norquist as a carry-on companion for the one-way trip to Tora Bora. Or Riyadh. Or Paris. Wherever.
Norquist’s kissy-kissy partnership with a washed-up Hollywood Clintonite is the least of his unseemly alliances.
Consider: The conference they attended last weekend was hosted by the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom, which was co-founded in 1997 by Sami Al-Arian – the former University of South Florida professor charged earlier this year as a fund raiser and organizer for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group. The money Al-Arian allegedly raised went to terrorist operations overseas that killed at least two Americans. In 2001, Al-Arian’s NCPPF gave Norquist an award for his work to abolish the use of secret intelligence evidence in terrorism cases. Al-Arian was the keynote speaker. Insight investigative reporter Ken Timmerman says Norquist told the magazine he remains “proud” of the award.
Among other major participants and sponsors of the NCPPF conference was the American Muslim Council. In January, the group accused President Bush of “calling on God to kill innocent Iraqi children.” The next day, the group instructed mosque directors to block FBI counterterrorism efforts. Late last month, AMC founder Abdurahman Alamoudi was charged with illegally accepting money from Libya for his efforts to persuade the United States to lift sanctions against that nation. He also allegedly attempted to smuggle hundreds of thousands of dollars to Syria, which federal officials say was intended for delivery to Damascus-based terrorist groups.
Alamoudi’s arrest is part of a larger Justice Department investigation of terrorism funding focused on Saudi-backed Islamic foundations and businesses based in Herndon, Va. (Alamoudi is also responsible for founding the American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council to “certify Muslim chaplains hired by the military,” including Capt. James “Youssef” Yee – recently charged with taking classified information home from Guantanamo Bay.) A so-called “moderate,” Alamoudi is on record praising the terrorist group Hezbollah and proclaiming: “We are all followers of Hamas.”
Norquist’s lobbying firm is registered as a lobbyist for Alamoudi. Alamoudi provided seed money for Norquist’s Islamic Institute, which shares space with Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform group. The institute is run by Alamoudi deputy and former AMC government relations director Khaled Saffuri. Saffuri and Norquist have worked closely with Bush senior adviser Karl Rove to give radical Muslim activists access to the White House. No doubt because of their efforts, Alamoudi was invited to a White House prayer service after the Sept. 11 attacks.
If any Democrat activist had such shady connections, conservatives would be on him like white on rice. Instead, Norquist has gotten away with smearing his critics – most notably, former Reagan official Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, one of the most decent and patriotic Republicans I’ve had the honor of meeting – as hatemongers.
“The conservative movement cannot be associated with racism or bigotry,” Norquist lectured in a letter attacking Gaffney earlier this year. No, Mr. Norquist. The conservative movement cannot afford to be associated with race-card-playing apologists who refuse to cut their lucrative ties to terrorist sympathizers.
The Republican Party doesn’t need this Achilles’ heel. Take him away, Alec Baldwin, please.