President-elect Donald Trump has reportedly added Frank Gaffney—a former Reagan official and Islamophobic conspiracy theorist—to his transition team to weigh in on national security issues.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) describes Gaffney as "one of America's most notorious Islamophobes" and the think tank he heads, the Center for Security Policy (CSP), as "a conspiracy-oriented mouthpiece for the growing anti-Muslim movement in the United States."
The New York Times and Wall Street Journal reported on the Gaffney's involvement Tuesday, though the Trump campaign indicated he is not playing such a role. "Either way," The Intercept's Jon Schwarz writes, "this is an extremely bad sign."
Gaffney's appointment follows the booting of former chair of the House Intelligence Committee Mike Rogers from his role as national security senior advisor—a sign, according to one observer, of "how far the new administration may depart from long-standing U.S. national-security policies."
Gaffney has suggested President Barack Obama is a Muslim, while Trump has relied on CSP's flawed June 2015 poll to support his proposal to ban Muslims from the country.
Tallying up more of his beliefs, New York Magazine's Eric Levitz wrote that Gaffney believes
1. Saddam Hussein was behind the Oklahoma City bombing.
2. Obama incorporated the Islamic crescent into the logo of a new missile-defense group.
3. By appointing a Muslim-American to New Jersey's state judiciary, Chris Christie may be complicit in treason.
Jessica Schulberg added at the Huffington Post:
- Gaffney suggested that Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan at the time, was submitting to Sharia when Petraeus condemned the burning of a Quran by a Florida pastor.
- Gaffney accused Pope Francis of having "rabidly anti-American" views after the pope said in February that it's "not Christian" to urge the deportation of undocumented immigrants and vow to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
- Gaffney has objected to Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Andre Carson (D-Ind.) serving on the House Intelligence Committee because they are Muslim and therefore, he said, likely to leak information to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Gaffney made additonal statements about Ellison this week after the congressman announced his run for chair of the Democratic National Committee, calling Ellison "the poster child of the 'Red-Green axis.'"
With Gaffney now on board the president-elect's team, Jonathan Chait writes at New York Magazine that "the emerging cast in Trump's administration creates an unnervingly high potential for absolute catastrophe."