On Sunday, at a candidate forum sponsored by the American Muslim Task Force, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) told the audience that she opposes FBI monitoring of mosques and "peace activists" for possible links to terror organizations:
"The good news is that I'm actually in a really good position to work on these issues, because I am on the Intelligence Committee," she reminded the audience, "and I am the chair of the Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee."
"The first thing I'm gonna do when I go back [to Washington]--and I've been talking to Muslim advocates--is to talk about: what is this business of people going into mosques, of investigating peace activists, who are exercising their constitutional rights? What is going on here?"
She tried to relate to the audience by talking about experiences that she and her husband, convicted felon and community organizer Robert Creamer, had when they were part of radical political organizations that had been infiltrated by the Chicago Police Department's "red squad."
Then she made this promise:
"I pledge to you that when I go back -- you know what, I could use help from the community, to get examples of these specifics. I can get answers. I may not be able to share all the answers, if they're somehow classified, but I can certainly raise this issue in a public way and then bring it to the intelligence committee in a more private way."
Just a few miles away, a few weeks before, the FBI arrested Sami Samir Hassoun, who had attempted to commit mass murder by planting a bomb outside Wrigley Field as crowds left a Dave Matthews Band concert.
The FBI had been following Hassoun for over a year, and caught him because he had been talking about his various terror plans in the presence of FBI informants. The bomb he planted was a dud, but hundreds would have been killed or injured if he had succeeded. A week later, US and European intelligence services foiled a terror plot that aimed to strike several major cities in Europe, and which was directly linked to terror groups in Pakistan. The key informant had attended the Masjid Taiba mosque in Hamburg, Germany, which is where the 9/11 terrorists met and which was shut down earlier this year.
The simple fact is that if the FBI were unable to monitor mosques where radical activists gather, we would all be more unsafe.
The Muslim community, by and large, has been cooperative, and has assisted the U.S. government in stopping terror before it strikes.
Yet Schakowsky's open-ended commitment to stop investigations of mosques and "peace activists"--and to uncover information about ongoing FBI investigations--is highly dangerous and irresponsible.
Her use of the term "peace activists" is probably a reference to the recent arrest of local SEIU official Jospeh Iosbaker and his wife Stephanie Weiner, who are being investigated by the FBI for links with terror organizations in the Middle East and Latin America. Schakowsky works hand-in-hand with the SEIU, and she is certainly aware of the controversy surrounding Iosbaker's arrest, which has sparked demonstrations in Chicago and elsewhere. Iosbaker's "peace" activism included support for anti-Israel groups and anti-government groups in Columbia.
Her pledge to intervene on behalf of "peace activists" reflects more than an innocuous commitment to civil rights. It reflects sympathy and solidarity with the activists--a point she emphasized by sharing her own experience as a far-left activist in Chicago.
It is certainly appropriate that the members of Congress responsible for oversight of our intelligence services do all that they can to make sure the government stays within constitutional bounds.
Yet it is highly inappropriate for those members to offer to reveal information -- even unclassified information -- about what the government is looking for, and where.
And it is wrong for those same members to dismiss the danger that terrorism poses, to express sympathy with the groups being investigated, or to promise to block the FBI's ongoing investigations, which continue to save untold thousands of lives.
Joel Pollak is the Republican challenger against Schakowsky in the 9th District of Illinois.