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As thousands of conservatives from across the country gather outside Washington, D.C., this week for the annual CPAC conference, they get to see and cheer on their favorite conservative all-stars and presidential hopefuls in person – Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Dr. Ben Carson, Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter and many more. But something else is going on. Amid the hoopla, book signings, meet and greets, speeches, panels and bands, a tense, no-holds-barred fight is under way to try to rid CPAC of a pair of influential men with track records of working with America’s enemies – Islamic organizations the U.S. government has linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and larger world of jihad.

It sounds like the setup to a thriller: Here is the pre-eminent showcase of red-meat conservatism, and at its organizational heart are movers and shakers with links to the world jihadist movement. But these are the facts as laid out in a meticulous, 40-plus-page “Statement of Facts” solemnly signed last month by former CIA Director R. James Woolsey, former U.S. Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey, former U.S. representative and retired Army Lt. Col. Allen B. West, retired U.S. Navy Adm. James A. Lyons, retired U.S. Army lieutenant general and former Pentagon intelligence official William G. Boykin, former Pentagon Inspector General Joseph E. Schmitz, former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy, former Ambassador Henry F. Cooper, former FBI Special Agent John Guandolo and former CIA officer Clare Lopez.

These nine men and one woman sent their dossier and a letter to Cleta Mitchell, counsel of the American Conservative Union (ACU), the organization that has staged CPAC for the past 40 years. They also sent it to every member of the ACU board.

Among these ACU board members is Suhail Khan. A former Bush administration appointee, now a member of a newly minted minority “engagement” council of the Republican National Committee, Khan is one of the two men under these former national security officials’ scrutiny. The other is Khan’s longtime ally Grover Norquist, the well-known anti-tax activist and ubiquitous presence at CPAC and other conservative power centers.

The case against Khan and Norquist is not new. Frank Gaffney, a national security expert and former Reagan Pentagon official (also a friend and colleague of mine), first began making it more than a decade ago. On behalf of ACU, Mitchell officially rejected a similar presentation by Gaffney in 2011, maintaining that it had “no basis” in fact, but rather constituted “continuing venom against Grover” – as if, for example, laying bare both Khan’s and Norquist’s troubling, past associations with such enemies of America as the later-convicted al-Qaida terrorist and Muslim Brotherhood member Abdulrahman “Oh Allah, destroy America” Alamoudi could be discounted as a personality clash.

As a personal aside, I would like to add that in all of my career in Washington, I have met no finer man nor greater patriot than Frank Gaffney, who has brought this case to light out of concern for America’s national security.

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Then, of course, he has all those facts on his side. With Woolsey, Mukasey, West and the rest now attesting to them, ACU’s quite feeble and unbecoming excuses won’t wash. The central question remains, now anchored by the reputations of heavyweight public servants. That question is: How long will the ACU and CPAC both embrace and be guided by men who, as distilled by the executive summary of the group’s Statement of Facts, “have extensive ties to ‘various Muslim extremist organizations,’ individuals associated with them and their activities”?

The statement continues: “These include organizations established in federal court as prominent Muslim Brotherhood front organizations with ties to the designated terrorist organization, Hamas.”

Ties to groups avowed to America’s destruction are not usually seen as conservative movement resume enhancers. But that’s not the only bizarre aspect to this long struggle to reintroduce the survival reflex into conservative thinking. The ACU seems unable to recognize that people who build political careers associating with operatives from Muslim Brotherhood front groups and advancing their interests straight into the inner sanctum of the Bush White House are not the best candidates for conservative leadership.

All Americans, not just conservatives, should read the Statement of Facts. In concise and measured language, it lifts the curtain on the complex machinations of Islamic influence agents and operatives orbiting around the network of U.S. Muslim Brotherhood front organizations that have multiplied throughout the U.S. in the past 50 years. (Suhail Khan’s parents actually founded several of them.) The group’s goal? Nothing less than to destroy the United States and transform what is left into an Islamic-ruled land.

How do I know that? Simple. The U.S. Muslim Brotherhood’s 1991 strategic blueprint for “civilization jihad,” discovered in 2004 by the FBI during a raid, says so. According to this “Explanatory Memorandum,” the Muslim Brotherhood’s “work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within … so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”

Like so many other dire threats to U.S. national security, however, Muslim Brotherhood infiltration is never, ever discussed under CPAC’s auspices. (Fast becoming an extra-CPAC tradition are the Breitbart-sponsored national security panels of national security experts known as “The Uninvited.”) Perhaps, in ACU-CPAC-land, there’s no need. After all, at CPAC in 2011, ACU board member Suhail Khan declared: “There’s no Muslim Brotherhood in the United States.”

That’s good enough for the board of the American Conservative Union.

But is it good enough for American conservatives?

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