Monday, March 12, 2007


Casing The Joint

The Washington Times - A House Democrat has arranged for a conference room in the Capitol building to be used tomorrow by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim advocacy group criticized for its persistent refusal to disavow terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

The District-based group also is singled out by other Democratic lawmakers and some law-enforcement officials because of financial ties to terrorists.

Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., New Jersey Democrat, reserved the basement conference room for CAIR's panel discussion Tuesday titled "Global Attitudes on Islam-West Relations: U.S. Policy Implications."

"We just see it as a simple room request," Pascrell spokesman Caley Gray said. "We did receive a room request and evaluated it and approved it."

He said the forum "opens up an important dialogue about global public opinion concerning the United States."

Still, the event's sponsor raised eyebrows on Capitol Hill, even if all sorts of groups routinely hold receptions and meetings in the Capitol.

"It does happen all the time but usually it is the United Way or some constituent group or Mothers Against Drunk Driving, not a group with supposed ties to terrorism -- in the Capitol no less," a Hill staffer said.

CAIR officials did not return a call seeking comment.

The room -- H-137 -- is controlled by the Ways and Means Committee.

Mr. Pascrell is a committee member and can reserve the room for any guest provided he "vouch it complies with House rules," said committee spokesman Matthew Beck.

House Republicans Object

A House Republican leadership group said Monday that Democrats should retract an offer to let the nation's largest Islamic civil liberties organization use a Capitol conference room for a seminar.

The House Republican Conference referred to the Council on American-Islamic Relations as "terrorist apologists" and called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to cancel the forum scheduled for Tuesday.

"Democrats arrange official meeting with pro-Hamas, pro-Hezbollah group in U.S. Capitol," headlined a Conference press release carrying a Washington Times article on the planned meeting.

"It's really disappointing," said CAIR national communications director Ibrahim Hooper, that whenever there's an attack from elective officials "we don't even ask any more which party it is. It should be a concern to ordinary Republicans that the party is being viewed as a reservoir of anti-Muslim hate."