Bolton’s NSC recruit latest target in leftist ‘smear campaign’
CIA ex-analyst Fleitz labeled as ‘neo-Nazi’
The White House is strongly defending Fred Fleitz, a former CIA analyst picked for the pivotal role of National Security Council chief of staff, in the face of strident criticism from what conservatives say are left-wing, pro-Obama pressure groups.
A senior NSC official told The Washington Times that the “baseless … vengeful smear campaign” is coordinated by the Southern Poverty Law Center. A legal advocacy nonprofit specializing in civil rights, the SPLC has thrived on liberal funding, targeted conservatives such as Mr. Fleitz, assigned derogatory labels and won coverage among Washington media.
“Many of the attacks originated from the left Southern Poverty Law Center, which in recent years has raised money by putting out press releases or statements falsely grouping conservative Americans with neo-Nazis and white supremacists,” the NSC official said.
Mr. Fleitz is a prominent conservative scholar recruited last week by National Security Adviser John R. Bolton as he revamps a staff inherited from retired Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster.
Mr. Fleitz spent nearly two decades as a CIA analyst, served on the staff of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and most recently resided at the Center for Security Policy, run by Ronald Reagan appointee Frank Gaffney.
Mr. Fleitz has taken a hard line on North Korea and its nuclear weapons and adamantly opposed President Obama’s 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. He criticizes radical Islam and worries openly about certain Muslim communities wanting to assimilate in the U.S.
These views, often relayed as a columnist and a commentator on Fox News, put him in lockstep with President Trump as well as with Mr. Bolton, with whom he worked at the State Department on arms control policy.
But his appointment was not in accordance with the political left, which pounced immediately.
“Fleitz leaves an organization that serves as the premier megaphone for stoking fears about American Muslims,” said the SPLC, taking aim at a favorite target, Mr. Gaffney’s group. “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.”
The liberal Washington Monthly proclaimed Mr. 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.
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 senior NSC official told The Times that 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.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations urged the president to fire Mr. 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.