Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said Thursday he was “mystified” at those who have criticized Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-Minn.) claim that some State Department officials might be using their positions to aid the Muslim Brotherhood.
“What is wrong with raising the question? Why isn’t even asking whether we’re living up to our standards a legitimate level of congressional oversight?” Bolton asked on the Frank Gaffney radio show. “Why has that generated so much criticism? I’m just mystified by it.”
The letter singled out Huma Abedin, the deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the wife of former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), saying she might be using her position to aid the Islamist group, which has been linked to violence in the past.
Her letter brought quick condemnation from colleagues on both sides of the aisle, most notably Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who blasted the assertions.
Bachmann says her letter is being distorted, and that she only intended to raise questions about whether Abedin was sufficiently vetted before obtaining security clearance.
Bolton on Thursday didn’t mention Abedin specifically, but said the questions Bachmann raised were valid.
“I’ve been subject to I don’t know how many security clearance procedures,” Bolton, who considered a presidential bid this cycle, said. “I must say, as irritating as some people might find them, I think they’re absolutely essential to making sure that people who work in sensitive positions in the national security field in our government are entirely loyal to the United States. I just think that’s an absolute, fundamental prerequisite.
“Now, people finding a truth that they find inconvenient? My response is that’s just too bad,” he added. “What I think these members of Congress have done is simply raise the question to a variety of inspectors general in key agencies — are your departments following their own security clearance guidelines? Are they adhering to the standards that presumably everybody that seeks a security clearance should have to go through, or are they making special exemptions?”
Abedin has since been placed under police protection after receiving a threat, according to a report in the New York Post that cited unnamed law enforcement officials.
Gaffney, who advised Bachmann on foreign policy during her presidential run, is himself a controversial figure. He’s an outspoken anti-Muslim advocate, and was banned from speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference after alleging the gathering had been infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood.