by WorldTribune Staff, June 4, 2018
The Trump administration is backing national security adviser John Bolton’s pick for National Security Council (NSC) chief of staff amid a “baseless … vengeful smear campaign” it says is being coordinated by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
Fred Fleitz, a former CIA analyst and WorldTribune.com Board of Advisors member, was selected by Bolton last week amid Bolton’s effort to revamp a staff inherited from H.R. McMaster.
A senior NSC official said the SPLC “has been known to attack prominent conservative thought leaders and label them bigots. … The attack is a deliberate smear campaign from the left against the Trump administration,” security correspondent Rowan Scarborough noted in a June 3 report for The Washington Times.
Fleitz, who also served on the staff of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, most recently resided at the Center for Security Policy (CSP), run by Ronald Reagan appointee Frank Gaffney.
“Fleitz leaves an organization that serves as the premier megaphone for stoking fears about American Muslims,” said the SPLC. “For decades, CSP has peddled absurd allegations that shadowy Muslim Brotherhood operatives have infiltrated all levels of government. CSP warns this is part of a greater conspiracy known as ‘creeping Shariah,’ or Islamic religious law, which CSP claims poses a threat to American democracy.”
Asked why Fleitz has been made a prime target, Gaffney said: “They’re trying to take everybody out. The more capable and formidable the individual, the more intense is the criticism. I think that they recognized that he has skills and this is a very important set of responsibilities he’s been assigned. They are determined to try to preclude him from doing the job.”
The liberal Washington Monthly proclaimed Fleitz a “neo-Nazi” and referred readers to the SPLC for details.
“The SPLC focuses primarily on the domestic role of the Center for Security Policy and on their Islamophobia, and certainly having a raving Islamophobe as NSC chief of staff has alarming national security ramifications and risks all on its own,” the magazine said.
Scarborough noted that “The left justifies the ‘neo-Nazi’ label based on Trump supporters who applaud national populism in the U.S. and in Europe. There is no evidence that Mr. Fleitz supports neo-Nazis.”
The NSC said the SPLC “in recent years has raised money by putting out press releases or statements falsely grouping conservative Americans with neo-Nazis and white supremacists.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) urged President Donald Trump to fire Fleitz.
“An individual who held a leadership position in a notorious hate group should not be placed in a policy-making post in the White House,” said CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw. “We urge the Trump administration to drop Mr. Fleitz and to remove all other staffers who espouse bigoted views or back discriminatory and unconstitutional policies.”
The Justice Department in 2007 listed CAIR as an unindicted co-conspirator in a criminal case against five Holy Land Foundation defendants convicted of funneling $12 million in illicit money to Hamas, a U.S.-deemed terrorist organization, Scarborough noted.