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Getting back to those unsolicited endorsements…

What does it mean when a terrorist endorses a presidential candidate?

It apparently depends on who’s being endorsed.

The campaign to elect Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) president lashed out Wednesday at the Washington Post for a longish inside-the-paper article about an endorsement the senator received from a longtime contributor to Al Qaeda website.

Quoth the Post:

“Al-Qaeda will have to support McCain in the coming election,” said a commentary posted Monday on the extremist Web site al-Hesbah, which is closely linked to the terrorist group. It said the Arizona Republican would continue the “failing march of his predecessor,” President Bush.

The campaign has a point: a single comment was worth 100 words tops, if anything at all. (Although I would have liked to see more detail from the expert who tells the Post such views are commonplace on jihadist websites.)

In a conference call, Jim Woolsey, a former CIA boss and a top national security adviser to McCain pointed out that terrorists and their supporters are less than likely to blurt out their innermost political leanings on the web.

“This individual knows that his endorsement is a kiss of death,” Woolsey said. “He is clearly trying to damage John McCain and not speaking from his heart.”

To stress the point, Randy Scheunemann, the campaign’s top foreign policy adviser, read a laundry list of endorsements and near endorsements Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) had earned from the less than savory.

One of the near-endorsements was from Ahmad Yousef, a sometimes adviser to Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas prime minister of the Gaza Strip. Yousef did not straight-out endorse Obama, but on Oct. 19 he told World Net Daily, a conservative website, that Hamas figures saw Obama as bringing a more “even-handed” approach to the Middle East.

“We as Palestinians are thinking that we might have better luck with a new administration, maybe, if Obama wins the election. I do believe he will change the American foreign policy.”

Scheunemann made clear he was reading the endorsements “without comment,” in other words he was not going to stoop to the Washington Post’s alleged low.

Except that the campaign already did, in April, the last time Yousef delivered an almost-endorsement in an interview with WND.

This time around, Yousef pushed back against interviewer Aaron Klein’s efforts to get him to say he preferred the Democratic ticket. Yes, he said, Haniyeh would welcome Obama on a post election visit to Gaza; McCain would be equally as welcome.

And then Yousef let drop a bombshell:

“To be honest with you, yes, there are also people from the Republicans, from the Bush administration who contacted us and who behind the scenes they did some contacts and some discussions with Hamas,” he said. “It is not just members of the Democratic Party or figures from the Democratic Party. No. This is the Republicans also who send delegations to talk with Hamas with their leaders in Damascus, in West Bank and also in Gaza.”

Say what? Government officials in touch with Hamas? That would be against the law

Here’s the relevant passage:

No funds authorized or available to the Department of State may be used for or by any officer or employee of the United States Government to negotiate with members or official representatives of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, or any other Palestinian terrorist organization (except in emergency or humanitarian situations), unless and until such organization–

(1) recognizes Israel’s right to exist;

(2) renounces the use of terrorism;

(3) dismantles the infrastructure in areas within its jurisdiction necessary to carry out terrorist acts, including the disarming of militias and the elimination of all instruments of terror; and

(4) recognizes and accepts all previous agreements and understandings between the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

There are a couple of lessons here:

1) Unsolicited endorsements are just that – unsolicited. They are newsworthy insofar as they say something about how an influential power or point of view sees itself affected by an election, but they say nothing about the candidate. And endorsements from terrorists – people who kill civilians for a living – should be taken with, well, Lot’s wife.. Especially from a single commenter. (I honestly don’t think, as Woolsey implied, that one should assume that the endorser believes the opposite of what he is saying out loud. It’s more likely that terrorists like to create mischief and attract attention.

2) Don’t bury the lead!

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