Ted Cruz Defends Adviser Who Called Obama 'America's First Muslim President'

Frank Gaffney has also accused conservative leader Grover Norquist of sinister ties to radical Islam.

03/21/2016 09:27 pm ET
  • Nick Baumann Senior Enterprise Editor, The Huffington Post

On Monday night, CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz about Frank Gaffney, a conspiracy theorist Cruz recently added to his list of foreign policy advisers. Gaffney, who worked in the Pentagon during the Reagan administration, has a long history of accusing everyone from liberal Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan to conservative anti-tax zealot Grover Norquist of bizarre, convoluted connections to "radical Islam."

Blitzer asked Cruz whether he agreed with a number of Gaffney statements, including his 2009 claim that "Barack Hussein Obama would have to be considered America's first Muslim president." But Cruz wouldn't disavow Gaffney. "I appreciate his good counsel," he said.

My colleague Jessica Schulberg recently reviewed some of Gaffney's strangest claims:

  • In the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq, Gaffney suggested that then-President Saddam Hussein had been involved in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, committed by Timothy McVeigh.

  • When President Barack Obama nominated Elena Kagan to serve on the Supreme Court in 2010, Gaffney accused her of being soft on Sharia during her time as dean of Harvard Law School. His group financed an ad that asked, “If Kagan tolerates promoting the injustice of Sharia law on the campus of Harvard, what kind of injustice will she tolerate in America during a lifetime on the Supreme Court?” 

  • In 2009, Gaffney questioned whether Obama was America’s first Muslim president or simply playing one. “The man now happy to have his Islamic-rooted middle name featured prominently has engaged in the most consequential bait-and-switch since Adolf Hitler duped Neville Chamberlain over Czechoslovakia at Munich,” Gaffney wrote.

  • In 2010, Gaffney accused Obama of dismantling American missile defense capability in an act of U.S. submission to Islam. He cited a “new” Missile Defense Agency logo as evidence, suggesting that the logo appeared to be a combination of Obama’s campaign symbol and the Islamic crescent and star. He later corrected that post, acknowledging that the logo was neither new nor produced under Obama’s direction. (Below see the older logo on the left, which the Missile Defense Agency still uses as well, and the newer logo on the right.)

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  • Gaffney suggested that Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan at the time, was submitting to Sharia when Petraeus condemned the burning of a Quran by a Florida pastor.

  • Gaffney has accused a bipartisan array of political elites of being secretly tied to the Islamist organization known as the Muslim Brotherhood, including longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin and conservative heavyweights Grover Norquist and Suhail Khan.

  • Gaffney has objected to Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Andre Carson (D-Ind.) serving on the House Intelligence Committee because they are Muslim and therefore, he said, likely to leak information to the Muslim Brotherhood.

  • While the rest of the world marveled at the ignorance that led authorities in Irving, Texas, to mistake 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed’s homemade clock for a bomb last year, Gaffney wrote that the school did the right thing by suspending Ahmed and calling the police. His group later honored Beth Van Duyne, the mayor of Irving and a Sharia alarmist, with the Freedom Flame Award for her “efforts to protect the Constitution.”

  • Gaffney hosted white nationalist Jared Taylor on his radio show last fall and praised Taylor’s American Renaissance website as “wonderful.” During the show, Taylor challenged the idea that the desperate people now flooding into Europe are refugees, calling that description a myth “touted by liberals.” When asked about the consequences of these individuals moving to Europe, Taylor said, “We have unleashed now what would not be an exaggeration to call almost demonic forces.”

  • When Trump proposed a ban on Muslims’ entry into the U.S last year, Gaffney quickly jumped to his defense. “Mr. Trump has clearly picked up on a conviction increasingly shared by millions of Americans,” he wrote on his group’s website. “They have begun to see the Obama administration has long been downplaying, misrepresenting and mishandling a threat more and more of us see plainly.”

  • When Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) invited Broward County Deputy Sheriff Nazar Hamze to this year’s State of the Union address, Gaffney accused Hamze of being “tied to a group that is directly linked to Hamas.” He was referring to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based advocacy group.

  • Gaffney accused Pope Francis of having “rabidly anti-American” views after the pope said in February that it’s “not Christian” to urge the deportation of undocumented immigrants and vow to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

"Frank has been leading the effort to focus on the threat of an electro-magnetic pulse, which would be a nuclear weapon detonated in the atmosphere that could take down our electrical grid," Cruz concluded Monday. An EMP attack, he added, "could kill tens of millions of Americans. And all Iran would have to do is fire one nuke into the atmosphere. They just need to get it above the Eastern seaboard and they could kill tens of millions. That is valuable work."

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