Thu, Feb 14, 2013 at 11:45:17 am
Breitbrat Ben Shapiro apparently just made up a story about Chuck Hagel receiving donations from a group called "Friends of Hamas," because as Dave Weigel reports, the group does not actually exist.
As with all these fake stories from the Breitbart crew, it immediately spread throughout the right wing echo chamber, repeated by Mike Huckabee, Redstate.com, the National Review, Fox News, etc. -- none of whom ever bothered to check on the group's existence.
Here's the problem: There's no proof that "Friends of Hamas" actually exists. At best, it's an organization so secret that nobody in government has thought to mention its existence. At worst, it's as fake as Manti Te'o's girlfriend. The Treasury Department, which designates sponsors of terror, has done so to many charities tied to Hamas. "Friends of Hamas" is not among them. The State Department doesn't designate it, either. And a bit less holistically, a Lexis search for the group reveals absolutely nothing.
I've been unable to find any Senate staffer who knows where the "Friends" rumor came from, and Dave Reaboi, communications director for the (generally conservative) Center for Security Policy, shared my confusion about the alleged group. "Looking back to the 1990s, there were several groups (some affiliated with Holy Land Foundation, some not) that functioned as fund-raisers," he said in an email. "I wouldn't put it past these people to refer to it this way in private, but I doubt highly that they'd actually call a legit group 'Friends of Hamas.'"
This morning I wrote Shapiro to clear up the accusation. "Have you found any more proof that this group exists?" I asked. "Is it just shorthand for some people who might support Hagel, or a real group?"
"The original story is the entirety of the information I have," he said.