President Bush has decided to sidestep critics and temporarily appoint Daniel Pipes, an incendiary Philadelphia-based scholar of Islam, to a government-financed peace think tank, sources said yesterday.
Arab and Muslim civil rights groups have called Pipes an "anti-Muslim bigot," and some members of Congress, mostly Democrats, have said he is an inflammatory choice for the board of the U.S. Institute of Peace.
Supporters say Pipes exposes anti-Western threats by radical Islam and correctly calls for scrutiny of Muslims in the United States as a way to ensure peace.
Amid the criticism, a Senate committee put off a vote late last month on Bush's nomination of Pipes.
Congressional sources told Reuters news agency yesterday that Bush intends to install Pipes as early as this week using a recess appointment. That means Pipes could serve without Senate approval, but only for about 16 months rather than for a full, four-year term.
A White House spokesman, Jimmy Orr, declined to confirm the report, saying only: "When we have something to announce, we'll announce it."
Pipes declined to comment.
Pipes, a Harvard University-trained historian and lifelong Republican, is director and founder of the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum. Among other statements, he has urged a harsh crackdown on Palestinians, in some cases faulting Israel for not being tough enough.
Based largely on his views, the Middle East Forum flourished and expanded after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks at a time when many nonprofit groups were struggling.
Pipes also launched an organization after Sept. 11 called Campus Watch that collects complaints against college professors deemed to be biased in favor of Islam, Muslims and Palestinians.
Word of the planned appointment reignited criticism.
"It's indicative of how unacceptable Mr. Pipes is, because of his long history of bigotry, that the President would have to resort to this," said Hussein Ibish, a spokesman for the Washington-based American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Pipes "has spent his career promoting fear and hatred."
Ibish said his group and others would mount a phone-calling effort today to try to dissuade the White House from following through on the appointment.
Marwan Kreidie of the Philadelphia Arab-American Association has said of Pipes, "I think he's a bigot and he's racist."
Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based advocacy organization, said the appointment "would call into question all of Bush's previous statements claiming that the war on terrorism is not an attack on Islam."
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, a senior Democrat on the Senate Health and Education Committee that had considered Pipes' nomination, said in a statement that Pipes' "record and experience do not reflect a commitment to bridging differences and preventing conflict."
But others, notably a variety of pro-Israel groups, have supported the appointment of a man who they said warned about Islamist radicals long before the 2001 attacks.
"Rejecting this nomination would have a chilling effect on the important political discourse about the threat of Islamic radicalism," David A. Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, said after the July hearing.
The peace institute was created by Congress in 1986, charged with using "knowledge to promote peace and curb violent international conflict."
Lacking policy influence, the institute sponsors conferences and studies on conflict resolution. It is run by a 15-member board whose bipartisan members range from former Pentagon officials to human-rights activists.
Clearing the Record
August 15, 2003
An article in Wednesday's Inquirer incorrectly described the work of the organization Campus Watch, created by Daniel Pipes and the Middle East Forum. Campus Watch says it critiques Middle East studies programs, focusing on problems that include the mixing of politics with scholarship, intolerance of alternative views, apologetics, and the abuse of power over students.