29 October 2008

Senator McCain's Ties to Rashid Khalidi?

The blogosphere is abuzz about a "new" link between Obama and radicalism, one that the L A Times wrote of earlier this year.

The McCain campaign has directed some of its energies at “uncovering” the relationship between Senator Obama and a professor at Columbia University, Rashid Khalidi. Khalidi is “a Palestinian scholar and activist” (L A Times). While it would be prudent to look into this relationship a bit further, perhaps it would also be prudent (more on this later today), as The Huffington Post wonders, if Senator McCain’s links to Khalidi--or his work-- came under investigation as well:
During the 1990s, while [John McCain] served as chairman of the International Republican Institute (IRI), McCain distributed several grants to the Palestinian research center co-founded by Khalidi, including one worth half a million dollars.

A 1998 tax filing for the McCain-led group shows a $448,873 grant to Khalidi's Center for Palestine Research and Studies for work in the West Bank. (See grant number 5180, "West Bank: CPRS" on page 14 of this PDF.)

The relationship extends back as far as 1993, when John McCain joined IRI as chairman in January. Foreign Affairs noted in September of that year that IRI had helped fund several extensive studies in Palestine run by Khalidi's group, including over 30 public opinion polls and a study of "sociopolitical attitudes."

If Khalidi is radical, and if his work is radical, why did the International Republican Institute fund it for five years--beginning when Senator McCain joined the group in 1993?

Forgive me if I look askance at the new line of attack. After all of the questionable allegations that have been tossed about this election cycle--from the "Whitey" tape, to the birth certificate, to the "Muslim" claims, the Sinclair claims, etc.--I'm a bit skeptical.

Anyway, more later.

It’s later; here are a few updates.

From ABC’s Jake Tapper:

The IRI has now issued a statement, confirming that it gave money to Khalidi's group (though IRI officials are going through their records trying to determine how much, exactly) and also trying to distance the organization from Khalidi himself.

The IRI’s statement, by the way, notes that:

“Other organizations that reportedly gave funding to CPRS include the National Endowment for Democracy, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Center for International Private Enterprise, the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, the Japanese Embassy, and Germany’s Friedrich Naumann Stiftung. IRI’s relationship with CPRS ended in 2000, and we understand that it no longer exists.”

In acknowledging other respected organizations' contributions to the CPRS, isn't the IRI effectively legitimizing Khalidi's group?

On tonight’s episode of Larry King Live, Senator McCain said the reason the L A Times should release the tape is because William Ayers might have been at the Khalidi event (there's no actual guest list from the event) :

Of course we have run ads that point out his record and also point out his associations. And I still think, you know, we're watching now, a major newspaper has a tape that apparently has Mr. William Ayers in it. I don't know if it does or not. That's the allegation. But that newspaper and their parent, the Tribune Company, and the Obama campaign refuse to release that. Shouldn't the American people know about that? At least they should have full information.(qtd. in Tapper)

But if the focus is on Ayers, what might the tape prove? Is this a fishing trip? Is the McCain camp have some idea of what might be on the tape, or is it merely hoping for something incriminatory? What if the LA Times discloses the tape and we see. . .nothing?

Personally, I would like to see the LA Times release the tape. Although their claims to maintaining a promise to the anonymous source of the tape is both admirable and justifiable (see this from Fox News' Bill Sammon), keeping it hidden could be more trouble than it’s worth.

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