Senator Robert Torricelli and the AMC
Fox Hannity & Colmes
Is the Republican party hoping a speech made about a decade ago by Senator Robert Torricelli will hurt him in this election?
Torricelli spoke at a 1993 meeting of the American Muslim Council, which was attended by several individuals with alleged ties to terrorism. Critics of the then New Jersey Congressman were upset by some comments that he made to the group.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ROBERT TORRICELLI (D), NEW JERSEY: America has little to teach and much to learn.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLMES: Senator Torricelli's office gave us this statement today in response to the story.
"Senator Torricelli's practice is to maintain dialogue with all legitimate organizations that contribute to American civil society. Considering FBI Director Robert Mueller's June speech to the American Muslim Conference, along with their leaders being invited to speak at the national prayer vigil at the invitation of the Bush White House on September 14th, 2001, we are confident that others share our view of inclusion. Regarding Senator Torricelli's speech to the group in 1993, as was covered in the press year's ago, the Senator was unaware that members of the UASR were in attendance. And had he known, he would not have attended, much less spoken. So why is this old story getting renewed attention?"
We're joined by Daniel Pipes, Director of the Middle East Forum, and author of the upcoming book, "Militant Islam Reaches America." And Democratic strategist Richard Aborn.
Richard, nice to see you. Daniel, welcome back to the program.
You know why it's getting attention. It's getting attention because Robert Torricelli's in a Senate race. And given that it's nine years old, and given that this group also was invited to a prayer vigil at the White House, this is all about partisan politics, is it not, Daniel?
DANIEL PIPES, DIRECTOR, MIDDLE EAST FORUM: It's about partisan politics, and it's about a more fundamental issue.
The Senator's statement said that he believes in inclusion with all, I think that the term was legitimate groups. The problem is that the American Muslim Council is not a legitimate group.
Now, he's perfectly right in pointing to the fact that Director Mueller of the FBI went and spoke to them, too. But just because the Republicans didn't make a - made a mistake, doesn't mean that the Democrats are right to make the same mistake.
The key problem is figuring out which are the legitimate Muslim groups, and which are not. AMC is clearly not.
COLMES: All right. But the point is, did Robert Torricelli know who they were? What was our attitude back then?
Now, for example, Hamas was only put on a watch list in 1997. We're talking back to 1993 at a time when we had very different attitudes about what this group was and what - who extremists were and what they represented, correct?
PIPES: Not really. We had the same attitudes. But I think we could him some slack in that the AMC was reasonably obscure at that point. It wasn't well known as it is today.
What I would like to hear from the Senator is not that he's - did the right thing, but that he did the wrong thing. And then we should move on. That he apologizes for this mistake.
And if he'd apologize for it, I'd be fine. Because it was nine years ago.
But, so long as he says, I think I did the right thing, then I think Senator Torricelli is pursuing the wrong thing today.
HANNITY: Well, I think - by the way, Daniel, good to see you. Thank you for being on the program. Richard Aborn is with us here tonight.
Richard, you know, one of the problems is, there is the National Council Resistance of Iran, and organization that the State Department classifies as a front group for the People's - Mujahideen of Iran, a terrorist group.
He's fighting to get the State Department to remove that status as a terrorist - that has terrorist connections. And he's received financial contributions for them.
So what we're seeing here, in my view, is a pattern of behavior just, you know, let's ignore these things. And that raises the question of his suitability and his recognition of who he hangs out with.
RICHARD ABORN, DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANT: Sean, if what you were saying had some accuracy, it probably would, but it doesn't. I mean, you're really reaching now. This is a 1993 speech that ...
HANNITY: I'm talking about 2001.
ABORN: ... almost - yeah, I know. But ...
HANNITY: I'm talking about right now, he's trying to do this.
ABORN: You said there's a pattern. And if there's a ...
HANNITY: Yes, a pattern.
ABORN: ... pattern, you're talking about the 1993 event, and ...
HANNITY: I'm talking about this.
ABORN: ... a current event. We don't have - we have - we don't have a statement from Senator Torricelli's office about this. We don't know anything else about this.
HANNITY: We know ...
ABORN: We know the 1990 ...
HANNITY: ... that the State Department, it says that ...
ABORN: ... the middle of the ...
HANNITY: ... it had terror connections.
COLMES: Are we going to ...
PIPES: Yes, and perhaps the Senator will drop it ...
ABORN: We're ...
PIPES: ... if he knows it's ...
ABORN: ... certainly, he does not promote terrorism.
COLMES: Richard, we're going to take a break. We're going to pick it up in just a second. More when we come back.
And then we'll show you some of Cardinal Bernard Law's deposition. Should the cardinal be considering a career change?
And then, she's good in the kitchen, but can she take the heat?
Michigan Congressman Bart Stupak says it's time for Martha to face the music, and he'll tell us why - all ahead on HANNITY & COLMES.
HANNITY: As we continue with Daniel Pipes and Richard Aborn, Daniel, I want to go to you and go back to the "National Review" online piece about Torricelli, and, quote, despite the - its inclusion in the State Department's list of global terrorist organizations for the last six years, a spokeswoman for Torricelli claims the Senator still fully supports the group.
Now, this is the second example. It's not just this '93 example. Do you see a pattern?
PIPES: I do see a pattern, yes. I think the Senator has an affection for groups that are very dubious, that have a history of apologizing for terrorism, fundraising for terrorism, having encounters with American law enforcement, being against law enforcement, being against the United States.
I'm specifically of the American Muslim Council.
HANNITY: Well, let me go a step further.
I mean, here's a United States Congressman at the time, before he became a Senator. "America has little to teach and much to learn."
I want to put up the pictures of these guys that are at this particular event in 1993, and I want to just, one by one, we'll go through them.
Do you know who these guys are? Do you know Mr. - what's his name? I lost the paper here.
PIPES: Samnia Alaria (ph)?
HANNITY: Mr. Shallah, do you know him? And ...
PIPES: Oh, yeah, yeah, this is ...
HANNITY: ... can you explain who he is? Isn't he the head of Islamic ...
HANNITY: ... Jihad?
PIPES: Ramadan Shallah, at that time, was associated with the University of South Florida. And then in 1995, he disappeared from the University of South Florida in Tampa.
And days later re-emerged in Damascus as the head of Islamic Jihad, which is one of the most murderous Palestinian terrorist groups, or perhaps the most.
HANNITY: And Tarik Hamdi. And he was at this ...
PIPES: Tarik Hamdi is the man who took the satellite phone battery to bin Laden that the FBI believes is what bin Laden used to order the 1998 East African embassy bombings.
ABORN: I'm sorry to interrupt ...
COLMES: We just heard the statement, Robert Torricelli's office, that had he known who those people were back then, he would not have given the speech to the group.
ABORN: Of course.
COLMES: They're pulling out something from 1993. Yet, when you bring up George W. Bush and allegations of insider trading from 12 years ago, they get all upset, say it's ancient history. But we can find a speech that Torricelli gave 10 years ago?
I'm no defender of Torricelli, by the way, he's got a lot to answer for.
ABORN: But he ...
COLMES: But let's be fair here.
ABORN: That's exactly right. Let's be fair. Let's have some proof - some proof, some little proof, that he knew who these people were in the audience.
ABORN: Your other guest, Mr. Pipes says, in 1995, the gentleman in the back of the room engages in terrorists acts.
So that's two years before the event. You two must both give speeches.
ABORN: Are you going to tell me you're going to be responsible for every single person in that audience. This is absurd and this is desperate, Sean.
COLMES: Daniel, what about that? I mean, ...
ABORN: You folks are desperate on this.
COLMES: ... you speak. You write. Can you always know who's in an audience, to whom you are speaking? Can you always know everybody in the room? And 12 years earlier, when the atmosphere was different?
How fair is that? As a criticism.
PIPES: Clearly, obviously, one cannot know everyone who's in the room. But at the same time, this is a militant Islamic group. It was militant then. It is militant now.
ABORN: But Mr. Pipes, you said that was not known. Let's be fair.
PIPES: It was ...
ABORN: ... and let's be fair. You said that that was not known before, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) ago.
PIPES: I grant you, I grant you, it was less known. And what would I like to hear ...
ABORN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) it is more known now.
PIPES: I think - I think the key thing ...
ABORN: Why is the White House ...
HANNITY: All right. Let him finish.
ABORN: ... and the FBI inviting these folks in?
HANNITY: Final thought, Daniel.
PIPES: You're absolutely correct. I think it is important that Torricelli, plus Director Mueller and everyone else keep their distance from the American Muslim Council, which is a militant Islamic organization.
HANNITY: All right, Mr. Pipes, thank you very much.
PIPES: Thank you.
HANNITY: But just one other last thing here. The State Department today says it's a terrorist group, and he's accepting money for them and asking them to take them off the list. That's today. That's happening right now.
ABORN: Different group. Completely different group.
HANNITY: But he's still - but they still - he's still associated with them.
ABORN: He's not supporting a terrorist group. If he is, he'll back away.
HANNITY: And will this story come back to haunt Senator Torricelli. We're going to find out in just 84 short days when the Republicans take over the world.
And coming up next, should Cardinal Law be held accountable for abusive priests? We're going to show you some of his deposition.
And then, is it time to turn up the heat on, well, Martha? We're going to have the latest on that issue.
And also, we are continuing to follow the story - good news. A little four-year-old girl in California. Jessica Cortez has been found. And we'll have the very latest on that straight ahead on HANNITY & COLMES.
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