Republican congressman Duncan Hunter of California is making a wild claim, but Danny Vinik of The New Republic for is having none of it:
Appearing on "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren," Hunter said [on Tuesday], "At least ten ISIS fighters have been caught coming across the border in Texas." When Van Susteren asked how he knew that, Hunter replied, "Because I've asked the border patrol, Greta."So where did Hunter get this? Where is this stuff coming from? I have to wonder about the people quoted in this late-September story From Public Radio International's The World:
I asked the Department of Homeland Security if Hunter's comments were true. They weren't.
"The suggestion that individuals who have ties to ISIL have been apprehended at the Southwest border is categorically false, and not supported by any credible intelligence or the facts on the ground," said DHS spokesperson Marsha Catron. "DHS continues to have no credible intelligence to suggest terrorist organizations are actively plotting to cross the southwest border."
[Art] Del Cueto, an 11-year Border Patrol veteran, ... says his vigilance is backed by proof of terrorist infiltration: "The intel we have is hard evidence. It's very hard evidence. It's pictures. It's debriefings of individuals." But, he says, that evidence is classified.(Emphasis added.)
... why are Border Patrol agents taking the rumours so seriously? One reason is John Guandolo, the founder of understandingthethreat.com.
A former FBI special agent, Guandolo travels the country warning law enforcement of the dangers of Islamic jihad. He's known for making some pretty bold -- some say outrageous -- claims.
"The Muslim advisors to the Department of Homeland Security, all of them at the senior levels, we identified as members of the Muslim Brotherhood," he says. "Leaders in DHS are working with known Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood people, which is exactly what's going on. Not speculation. Per evidence."
He goes so far as to accuse Attorney General Eric Holder of complicity in an alleged jihadist plot to take over America. Meanwhile, he claims, Islamic terrorists are entering the US freely through the Mexican border. A little more than a week ago, he repeated those assertions at a meeting of 300 law enforcement officers in Arizona.
"Yes, there were people here from Border Patrol. Every one of them that was here said they did not know this information, that it was critical, and that it was going to definitely affect the way they do business," he says.
When Art Del Cueto of the Border Patrol talks about "intel" and "hard evidence," is he talking about "intel" and "evidence" obtained through his job, or though official channels? Or is he talking about the contents of one of John Guandolo's dog-and-pony shows? And when Congressman Hunter says he knows ISIS guys are getting across the border because he "asked the border patrol," was he told what agents actually know? Or what they think they know because it was communicated to them, directly or indirectly, by Guandolo, or someone like him, who thinks our government is infested with agents of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood?
By the way, there's an error in Danny Vinik's New Republic story. Vinik writes this in an update:
Hunter isn't backing off his comments, claiming they came from a "high-level source" at DHS. "The Congressman was conveying what he knows -- and what he was told," Hunter's spokesperson told The Huffington Post.But if you go to that HuffPo story, you'll see that Hunter didn't say he got his information from a "high-level source" at the Department of Homeland Security.
Asked for comment on Wednesday, a spokesman for Hunter said the information came for a "high level source" and that DHS was "actively discouraging any talk of IS on the border."So we don't know who Hunter's "high-level source" is. It could be Guandolo. It could be anybody.
UPDATE: Rachel Maddow discussed this on her show last night, and ultimately got a response from Hunter's office saying that it wan't exactly correct to say that "At least ten ISIS fighters" had been captured -- "More accurate, I think, to refer to them as foreign nationals with IS associations," his office told the show. And his source? "It's a high-level source -- someone who we have come to know and trust over the years." Also: "one source is law enforcement."
So: one source or more than one? And if "one source is law enforcement," who is/are the other source/sources? Is it Judicial Watch, the group once run by birther nutjob Larry Klayman? (Hunter's office initially referred Maddow's show to a Judicial Watch story titled "JW Confirms: 4 ISIS Terrorists Arrested in Texas in Last 36 Hours," which refers back to this August Judicial Watch story alleging that ISIS "is confirmed to now be operating in Juarez," and sourced to unnamed "High-level federal law enforcement, intelligence and other sources.") If you're a Border Patrol agent like Art Del Cueto, or an ex-FBI guy like John Guandolo, are you a "high-level law enforcement" or "intelligence"?