Glenn Beck isn’t the only one promoting an unhinged conspiracy theory about John Brennan, President Obama’s pick to lead the CIA. A number of Religious Right and anti-Muslim activists are also wondering if Brennan is a secret agent of the Saudi government.
The source of the smear against Brennan is former FBI agent John Guandolo, who has made a career out of warning about the alleged implementation of Sharia law in the U.S. and asserting that Muslims “do not have a First Amendment right to do anything.” For Guandolo, making completely unsubstantiated accusations is nothing new:
In 2011, he asserted that a Muslim college professor in Ohio was working with terrorists even though the same professor played a key role in counterterrorism efforts and the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and other members of the intelligence community all called Guandolo’s claim unfounded.
But his accusation about Brennan has been quickly picked up by former congressman Fred Grandy of the Center for Security Policy and Sandy Rios of the American Family Association, who seemed to accept it with little scrutiny. Grandy and Rios also were some of the first people to allege that Hillary Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin — among other U.S. government officials — are Muslim Brotherhood agents.
Grandy: The influence of Islam as a religion among top intelligence authorities in this country is not limited to John Brennan. Whether or not that influenced his political determinations probably has more to do not so much with Islam but to what degree has been cooped by Saudi authorities. It seems to me that you can practice Islam but still be an American citizen and loyal to the Constitution if you’re an officer in the CIA, but what we don’t know whether or not that conversion might have been instigated by Saudi authorities who then used it to perhaps remold his thinking vis-à-vis the Saudis, the Qataris and others who are allies of the United States but the principal funders and underwriters of terrorism around the world.
Rios: Well I think the proof is in the pudding. When he redefines jihad to mean something that it doesn’t mean, to water it down; when he rewrites the training manuals for our law enforcement, for those that would protect the United States; it’s all very, very frightening and suspicious to me. And wasn’t it John Brennan who calls Jerusalem, ‘Quds’?
Grandy: He has referred to Jerusalem as Al-Quds which of course is the Muslim name for it.
AFA spokesman Bryan Fischer also floated Guandolo’s accusation against Brennan.
Fischer: How in the world can this guy [Obama] be up nine points in national defense? He wants a guy to be the director of the CIA who may be a Muslim covert. There’s a highly-placed source, I can’t verify this because it’s only come from one source but John Brennan who President Obama wants to be his CIA director, there’s a well-placed source that says everybody understands in the intelligence community that he converted to Islam when he was on an overseas assignment. He’s allowed the Muslim Brotherhood to infiltrate his administration.
So, is Guandolo a reliable source of information?
If you believe Guandolo’s story, the former agent was pushed out of the FBI as part of a Muslim Brotherhood plot and is now informing Americans about how the group has successfully infiltrated the U.S. government.
But the news reports beg to differ, reporting that Guandolo stepped down after it was discovered that he had a sexual relationship with the star witness in the corruption case against former Rep. William Jefferson.
Guandolo, “who is married and who unsuccessfully solicited a $75,000 donation for an anti-terrorism group from a wealthy witness in the Jefferson case with whom he was having an affair,” resigned from the FBI in 2008 “after superiors found a list he wrote of his sexual conquests with agents and a confidential source.”
But a total lack of credibility has never stopped someone from being treated as an “expert” in right-wing circles, and Guandolo’s influence is further proof that conservatives will believe just about anything to advance their anti-Muslim and anti-Obama paranoia.