Rebutting criticisms that were not made, and often ignoring those that were, witnesses and representatives in a House subcommittee hearing on disrupting terror plots through community engagement often lost focus on their task Wednesday.
The digressions began when Jane Harman, chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment, read an excerpt from an article published Tuesday by the Investigative Project on Terrorism. It raised concerns about the hearing's absence of Muslim voices who are detached from national political organizations which have a record of extremist rhetoric and hostility toward law enforcement.
Reading from the IPT story, Harman, (D-CA), said the committee tried to include witnesses with varying ideas:
"One of the criticisms today says that 'the committee is seeking input from a narrow viewpoint – one that is sympathetic to Islamist extremist organizations here in America.' Well I'll state my own view, that is not my own view. I am not sympathetic to extremist organizations in America."