Larry Haler, an example of how not to deal with CAIR

When a Democratic colleague proposed repealing the state of Washington's Cold War-era law on subversive activities, Representative Larry Haler, a Republican from Richland, countered that it should be modernized to address radical Islam. He singled out the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). "We do have a group in this country called CAIR, which is basically run by the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. They are a political entity," he said. "And their goal is to overthrow the country."

Indeed, CAIR was an unindicted co-conspirator in the case against the Holy Land Foundation, which financed Hamas, an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. Federal prosecutors named CAIR as one of the "individuals/entities who are and/or were members of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood's Palestine Committee and/or its organizations"; a judge backed the listing. Also note that the Brotherhood has described its mission as "eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within."

Yet after CAIR demanded evidence — readily available evidence — to support his remarks, Haler privately apologized. He "never provided information to CAIR on the alleged links to the Muslim Brotherhood or Hamas," one report claims. CAIR's emboldened allies then released a letter painting his comments as "long-discredited conspiracy theories" that "malign the whole of the American Muslim community" and thus endanger it. Although Haler declined their request for a public retraction, the damage is done. Engaging CAIR requires a stiff spine and command of the facts deeper than a sound bite. Haler was not up to the challenge.

David J. Rusin is a research fellow at Islamist Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.