Frank Gaffney is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy (CSP). In 1987, Gaffney served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Reagan Administration, but these days he and his organization represent a leading voice within this country’s organized anti-Muslim movement.
Time and again, Gaffney uses his platform to perpetuate a number of conspiracy theories, with one ringing loudly above all others. He frequently peddles the notion that the Muslim Brotherhood is operating covertly across the United States, conducting infiltration and influence operations. He’s even authored a 10-part video course that serves as “an introduction” to exactly how Muslims are attempting to replace all semblances of American culture and life with those of violent fundamentalism. Gaffney takes his message across the far-Right speaking circuit, appearing at a variety of conferences yearly.
This year has seen CSP collaborate with other groups to hold “national security summits,” where stoking ambiguous fears regarding Muslims and immigrants is a primary goal.
Gaffney also takes to his daily Internet program, “Secure Freedom Radio,” to amplify the conflation of such notions with daily news hooks and policy battles reverberating across our nation’s capitol, where CSP is based. On that show, he has hosted a number of influential leaders of the organized anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim movements alongside their allies in Congress. Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies and Rep. Louie Gohmert are just two examples. Archives of the show are cataloged on CSP’s website.
Less visible is how Gaffney amplifies such conspiracy theories through his membership in Groundswell, a clandestine network of far-Right leaders, like Gaffney and Krikorian, who collaborate with far-Right media outlets, like Breitbart News, to coordinate and to push disingenuous narratives and research around a variety of mainstream news stories and various legislative priorities. A recent example comes from this summer, when Groundswell members combined to powerful effect in order to distort stories around children fleeing rampant and well-documented violence from a trio of small Central American countries. Labeling them drug dealers, disease carriers, and invaders, Gaffney and his collaborators sought the immediate deportation of those children, often without regard to due process, back to their home countries where some were murdered after their return.
All in all, Gaffney’s lax relationship with hard facts – he is a known “birther” – has seen him more-or-less ostracized from some influential and more mainstream conservative circles. Gaffney has essentially been banned from the annual CPAC conference hosted by the American Conservative Union, which is the most prominent “big-tent” event for American conservatives. In 2013, Gaffney appeared on alongside Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, Rosemary Jenks, and other speakers banned from CPAC. The panel, titled “The Uninvited,” was controversially organized by Breitbart. In 2014, however, all were forced to move off-site, and host a day-long event that simply paralleled CPAC.
The degree of sincerity behind Gaffney’s removal from CPAC is debatable. Gaffney has not been shy about provoking its organizers. He has labeled some of those close to the conference’s principal organizers, like Grover Norquist, secret operatives who work for the Muslim Brotherhood. Gaffney has similarly helped lead the McCarthy-esque persecution of Huma Abedin, a long-time and prominent aide to Hillary Clinton. Calling for investigation into her life, Gaffney supported five Republican House members who became so convinced that Abedin is a Muslim Brotherhood operative that they wrote a letter to the Department of Justice and the State Department requesting that she be investigated.
Though he has been ostracized to some degree, Gaffney remains influential—and well-funded. A recent investigative report by Eli Clifton for Salon.com revealed that some of the foremost aerospace and defense contractors in the country have in the past donated large sums of money to CSP and its president.
Certainly, Gaffney has made it his mission to cast Muslims primarily as the eternal enemies of the United States, as 1.5 billion radical terrorists who want to hate and want to obliterate Western democracy. When those who create the instruments of war fund those who help manifest the demand for war, legitimate or not, a conflict of interest arises.
As we have recently seen in Ferguson, MO, those instruments are eventually turned upon American citizens. And so, this is why those who appreciate democracy must recognize that understanding Frank Gaffney’s efforts and the organized movements of bigotry he represents are crucial to preserving it.