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The White House Islamic envoy and a smelly whitewash

By Michelle Malkin  •  February 17, 2010 08:17 AM

Someone is lying here about whether President Obama’s Islamic envoy defended jihadi professor Sami al-Arian. You be the judge. Via CNS:

A Washington-based publication said Tuesday that it incorrectly quoted President Barack Obama’s newly appointed envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference as saying in 2004 that an American who aided a Palestinian terrorist group was the victim of “politically motivated persecutions.”

The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (WRMEA) was responding to queries about why an archived story quoting Rashad Hussain as making the controversial comments was altered years later.

WRMEA News Editor and Executive Director Delinda Hanley denied there was a “cover-up,” and implied that anti-Muslim discrimination was behind the fact this was now being raised.

The anti-Muslim card: Always the first and last refuse of grievance-mongering scoundrels. Mix in “blame the intern:”

CNSNews.com reported earlier that Hussain was quoted in a November 2004 WRMEA article as telling a Muslim students’ event in Chicago that the situation facing Sami al-Arian – a university professor then in custody and later convicted and jailed for conspiring to aid a Palestinian terrorist group – was “politically motivated” and a means “to squash dissent.”

It was also reported that the WRMEA article was amended – at least three years later, according to an Internet archive site – with the paragraphs quoting Hussain removed (see the original and revised pages).

Responding to queries first sent on Sunday, Hanley said Tuesday that the comments attributed to Hussain were actually made by another person attending the event in Chicago, Sami al-Arian’s daughter, Laila al-Arian.

Hanley said an “intern” who attended the event and wrote the story had made an “error.” When this was discovered, the quotes were deleted, she said.

Not so fast, grievance-monger:

“When I worked as a reporter at WRMEA, I understood how important it was to quote the right person, and accurately,” Shereen Kandil said. “I have never mixed my sources and wouldn’t have quoted Rashad Hussain if it came from Laila al-Arian.”

“If the editors from WRMEA felt they wanted to remove Rashad Hussain from the article, my assumption is that they did it for reasons other than what you’re saying,” she said. “They never once contacted me about an ‘error’ they claim I made.”

Kandil also said that at the time the story was published, she had completed her internship and had been a full-time WRMEA staff member for five months.

‘A simple error, no big cover-up’

Hanley conceded later on Tuesday that she may have made a mistake, but denied that there was a cover-up.

CNS contacted Ms. al-Arian, Hussain, and the State Department for comment. No response yet. But they did say this:

Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Philip Crowley, who is traveling with Hussain and Clinton, referred queries to the White House.

Crowley said Hussain had been “very well received” during the visits to Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

I’m sure he was.

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