Was Heritage questioner a former candidate for Congress?

posted at 3:31 pm on June 17, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Noah already delivered a takedown of Dana Milbank’s dishonest report of a Heritage Foundation panel on Benghazi, but the story didn’t quite end there. The emergence of the video of the event thoroughly discredited Milbank, but he didn’t back down from his conclusion that the panel attacked a soft-spoken young Muslim woman who just offered a question, and suffered intimidation from the audience as a result. Claiming that “it’s all subjective,” Milbank then offered to provide audio of his interview with the young woman, Saba Ahmed:

If it comes down to the credibility of the witness, then perhaps knowing a little more of her back story might help with that “subjective” judgment. Ms. Ahmed is a little more than a law student at American University, as she introduced herself. She is same Saba Ahmed that tried to win the Democratic nomination to the US House of Representatives in the 2012 cycle, only to change party affiliation to the GOP after drawing less than one percent of the Democratic vote (via Gary Eaton and Michelle Ray):

Saba Ahmed, the young Muslim woman from Beavertonwho ran in the Democratic primary for Oregon’s 1st District congressional seat, says she has switched to the Republican Party.

From her Facebook page:

“Never thought I would see this day, but I am officially a registered REPUBLICAN. Thank you to all the Oregon Democrats for helping me realize my Conservative Potential. Looking forward to 2012 Republican Victories!”

Ahmed, who had interned for then-Gov. Ted Kulongoski and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, has been a frequent participant in Democratic events.  She received less than a half-percent of the votes in last week’s primary.

The same Facebook link features a number of items about Ahmed’s appearance at the Heritage panel, too. She’s clearly not just a young naïf who might have been overwhelmed by a panel response. In fact, in an earlier profile from The Oregonian, Ahmed’s background shows that she has solid experience in public activism:

In 2004, at the age of 19, she graduated with a double major in electrical engineering and physics at Portland State University.  She’s been active in Democratic volunteer circles in recent years, participated in a pair of programs to train women to run for political office and did internships for then-Gov. Ted Kulongoski and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore.

She has also been frequently interviewed as a friend of the family of Mohamed  Mohamud, the Somali-American teenager accused of attempting to bomb a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Portland last year.

The Oregon blog 54-40 or Fight had these links, plus other subjective assessments of Ahmed’s politics:

Saba Ahmed has garnered attention for being friends with Mohammed Osman Mohamud, the Portland Christmas Tree Bomber – so much so that she was removed from his court hearing when the judge charged her with contempt. She is also a 9-11 truther who believes that the Flight 93 crash in Shanksville, PA was staged.

She tends to seek out any opportunity to get in front of microphones and cameras to undermine conservative causes and messages. She has been removed from many Republican events in Oregon as well as Tea Party rallies, and most conservatives recognize her as unwelcome due to her ulterior motives.

So it’s no surprise that when one door closes, she seeks other avenues to project her message – like, for instance, Occupy Portland[.]

Ahmed acknowledged the hostility from conservative grassroots in the area, but chalked them up to Islamophobia:

And yes I was banned from the Oregon Tea Party and Washington County Republicans earlier this year because of my Islamic beliefs, but I have to believe there is room for learning. I have to try and make a place for myself even if i’m unwelcomed. I know several tea party republicans hate me because they somehow blame me for 9/11. But I know once we talk to each other, get to know one another, we can all heal together. Inshallah!

Sounds something like what Milbank tried in his hit piece, too. The only problem was that Heritage videotapes their events, and the videotape shows that the panel and the audience was enthusiastic but hardly intimidating — and that Ahmed herself was polite and respectful, if not entirely quite honest about herself. As Erick Erickson also points out, Ahmed’s question was actually off-topic for the panel, which might have been entirely benign — or an attempt to generate the kind of gotcha that Milbank thought he’d scored.

Dylan Byers’ analysis seems even more spot-on after getting some background on Ahmed:

Video of that panel has since surfaced and — in my view — Milbank grossly misrepresented the nature of that exchange.

The woman in question, Saba Ahmed, an American University law student, does not seem to have been “taunted.” Both panelists who responded to her accepted the premise of her question entirely. One of them — Brigitte Gabriel, the founder and CEO of ACT! for America — strongly rebutted Ahmed’s concerns, but never dismissed her right to ask the question.

In an email, Milbank explained that he “was there in the room yesterday, and the reaction in the crowd – the long, standing ovation, the cheers for Gabriel, the fingers pointed at Ahmed, the war whoops  –  was intense, and a bit scary. The video captures some but not all of that.”

Milbank is right on that point — the video may not capture everything that took place. However, I do believe that the video disproves or casts doubt on several of Milbank’s assertions.

Whatever audio Milbank has of Ahmed’s reaction should take her own credibility into account for his “subjective” analysis. Milbank himself seems to be singularly lacking in that quality.

Update: I should have also hat-tipped Adam Baldwin, who pointed the way to the above links from Gary and Michelle. My apologies for the omission.


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Ahmed, who had interned for then-Gov. Ted Kulongoski and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, has been a frequent participant in Democratic events. She received less than a half-percent of the votes in last week’s primary.

War On Women, and a Muslim woman at that.

You demorat bigots make me sick!

Bishop on June 17, 2014 at 3:40 PM

the war whoops – was intense, and a bit scary.

Dana Milbank – scaredy cat!

Aplombed on June 17, 2014 at 3:40 PM

Jane Dana you ignorant slut.

Flange on June 17, 2014 at 3:43 PM

Wake me for the million Muslim march.

John the Libertarian on June 17, 2014 at 3:43 PM

Watch….he’ll be on tingles show today bloviating

cmsinaz on June 17, 2014 at 3:44 PM

Milbank himself seems to be singularly lacking in that quality.

And water is still wet. Thanks for the update!!

Deano1952 on June 17, 2014 at 3:45 PM

Milbank really should be fired for this.

A simple Google search would have told him this woman is no “innocent law student” but a professional provocateur. That is pretty darn important information for his readers to know, regardless of their interpretation of the events.

rockmom on June 17, 2014 at 3:46 PM

So, not only is there some … slyness concerning who she really is (“oh, just a student…..”), but she apparently also lied about being the “head” of any Muslim “peace movement”, since no Democrat in recent memory has ever led anyone to renounce “political Islam” or “fundamentalist Islam” or “Islamism”.

“Can you tell me who the head of the Muslim peace movement is?” he demanded of Ahmed.

“Yeah,” audience members taunted, “yeah.”

Ahmed answered quietly, as before. “I guess it’s me right now,” she said

GWB on June 17, 2014 at 3:47 PM

Why the F is the GOP admitting muzies ?
Have they no shame anymore ?

burrata on June 17, 2014 at 3:48 PM

Saba Ahmed is islamic for Sandra Fluke.

Flange on June 17, 2014 at 3:49 PM

Dana Milbank write a misleading or ,gasp, dishonest story!? No way, he works for the Washington Post…

major dad on June 17, 2014 at 3:49 PM

How does she expect people to heal when they get to interact with her if she is a Truther? Doesn’t seem a likely jumping off spot for reconciliation.

Cindy Munford on June 17, 2014 at 3:49 PM

Milbank really should be fired for this.

A simple Google search would have told him this woman is no “innocent law student” but a professional provocateur. That is pretty darn important information for his readers to know, regardless of their interpretation of the events.

rockmom on June 17, 2014 at 3:46 PM

That happens all the time. Professional activists from the left are routinely quoted as if they were just “concerned citizens”, but the media is always sure to identify the activists on the right.

Josh the Inexorable on June 17, 2014 at 3:50 PM

What’s a “war whoop”?

Cindy Munford on June 17, 2014 at 3:50 PM

Winner Flange!

cmsinaz on June 17, 2014 at 3:54 PM

“Never thought I would see this day, but I am officially a registered REPUBLICAN. Thank you to all the Oregon Democrats for helping me realize my Conservative Potential. Looking forward to 2012 Republican Victories!”

Taqiyya?

Fallon on June 17, 2014 at 3:56 PM

Ace’s take:

Dana Milbank “Grossly Misrepresents” Heritage Briefing on Benghazi to Make It Sound Like a Hate Crime in Progress

This part is especially delicious:

This part of Milbank’s original column shows him as biased and giddily ignorant. He’s actually proud to know nothing at all about the subject he’s allegedly covering. Watch and learn:

Plante had kicked off the forum by lamenting a ‘news media that is spectacularly uncurious when it comes to even the basic bare-bones facts of what happened in Benghazi that night.’ But the hour that followed showed exactly why Americans (or at least the non-Fox-News-viewing subset of Americans) are rightly skeptical: The accusers’ allegations grow wilder by the day.

Plante cast doubt on whether Ambassador Chris Stevens really died of smoke inhalation, demanding to see an autopsy report.

Gabriel floated the notion that Stevens had been working on a weapons-swap program between Libya and Syria just before he was killed.

Panelist Clare Lopez of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi said the perpetrators of the attack are “sipping frappes with journalists in juice bars.”

Milbank reports that as a “wild claim” made by crazy Benghazi conspiracists.

He assumes that the panelists are lying, just making stuff up because they’re Crazy People who Only Tell Lies.

That shows his blatant partisanship and stupid prejudice — yes, Dana Milbank thinks anyone who isn’t a card carrying leftist is cognitively incapable of telling lie from truth.

But it also demonstrates his willful ignorance, and how the average member of the media has so studiously avoided coming into contact with any contamination of facts about Benghazi.

They’ve cocooned themselves so thoroughly that no discomfiting information can penetrate them.

If Milbank’s going to write about Benghazi — offer “opinions” on it — he at least should have a basic level of information about it. And before claiming that someone’s statement about terrorists having frappes with journalists is some kind of wild-eyed lie, he might want to google it.

Because this wild-eyed conspiracy theory was reported by the New York Times about a month after the Benghazi attack:

Suspect in Libya Attack, in Plain Sight, Scoffs at U.S.

By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK

Published: October 18, 2012

BENGHAZI, Libya, Witnesses and the authorities have called Ahmed Abu Khattala one of the ringleaders of the Sept. 11 attack on the American diplomatic mission here. But just days after President Obama reasserted his vow to bring those responsible to justice, Mr. Abu Khattala spent two leisurely hours on Thursday evening at a crowded luxury hotel, sipping a strawberry frappe on a patio and scoffing at the threats coming from the American and Libyan governments.

That’s the first f***ing paragraph, for crying out loud.

But Dana Milbank is defiantly ignorant. As they say: He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.

That’s real ignorance. Not knowing something is no sin. But being so actively ignorant to assume you know things (that this frappe business must be a Crazy Lie because Crazy Liars Tell Crazy Lies) to not even bother to check with a five second google search…?

And yet he offers his “opinions” on shit.

For all that they may be worth.

Googling “frappe” and “Benghazi” would have — yesterday or before — brought the New York Times article up near the top of the list.

Not today, though.

Today, this is the top hit disclosed by “frappe” and “Benghazi:”


Strawberry-Frappe-Sipping Benghazi Suspect Captured in Secret Raid

That’s from the notorious rightwing conspiracy-sheet New York Magazine.

A one-second google search.

He couldn’t be bothered.

Not only was this information — known by anyone with even a passing familiarity with the Benghazi attack — not part of his active knowledge base, but he refused to take even the most trivial steps to make it part of his potential knowledge base.

As for the American public being ‘rightly skeptical,’ I do not think that phrase means what Milbank thinks it means considering the FACT that 61% of Americans say that the Obama Admin has been “Dishonest” with details of Benghazi terror attack.

Resist We Much on June 17, 2014 at 3:56 PM

‘muslim peace movement’.
yeah right.
There’s NOTHING ‘peaceful’ about islam.
That chick is practicing taqyia.
typical.

annoyinglittletwerp on June 17, 2014 at 3:58 PM

Fallon on June 17, 2014 at 3:56 PM

islam and honesty are practically mutually exclusive.
*patriotic muslims do exist-but there are very few of them*

annoyinglittletwerp on June 17, 2014 at 3:59 PM

And then there’s this:

Missing Beaverton woman found safe in California hotel

“Saba Ahmed , 26, was found in a hotel in a small California town early this morning, said Sgt. David Thompson, sheriff’s office spokesman. Thompson didn’t have details on the specific town.

Ahmed, who was recently diagnosed with a mental disorder, was checking herself into Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, when she left the location, Thompson said”

whatcat on June 17, 2014 at 4:00 PM

This makes Milbank look triply stupid and dishonest.

NotCoach on June 17, 2014 at 4:00 PM

Targeted?!! WTF?!! She stood up and asked a freakin question!! Only in the mind of a liberal (or islamist).

WordsMatter on June 17, 2014 at 4:01 PM

Islamophobia: Fear of getting your head chopped off by ISIS

The only cure for Islamophobia? Kill or be killed – very simple.

redguy on June 17, 2014 at 4:01 PM

This makes Milbank look triply stupid and dishonest.

NotCoach on June 17, 2014 at 4:00 PM

He is all of that. He needs to be targeted.

redguy on June 17, 2014 at 4:02 PM

It’s possible that Milbank and Ahmed conspired to create this story beforehand. I’d expect this to have been coordinated by Media Matters. Someone ought to be looking into this possibility which, in this case, borders probable.

Dusty on June 17, 2014 at 4:03 PM

Targeted?!! WTF?!! She stood up and asked a freakin question!! Only in the mind of a liberal (or islamist).

WordsMatter on June 17, 2014 at 4:01 PM

As ISIS get’s closer to America, you will see more of this. Don’t buy it, they are all in…..

redguy on June 17, 2014 at 4:03 PM

It’s possible that Milbank and Ahmed conspired to create this story beforehand. I’d expect this to have been coordinated by Media Matters. Someone ought to be looking into this possibility which, in this case, borders probable.

Dusty on June 17, 2014 at 4:03 PM

And funded by the Muslim Brotherhood office of the President.

redguy on June 17, 2014 at 4:04 PM

Whatever audio Milbank has of Ahmed’s reaction should take her own credibility into account for his “subjective” analysis. Milbank himself seems to be singularly lacking in that quality.

Hey maybe Milbank wrote his article before
this incident happened ? You know like in it’s planning stage ?

burrata on June 17, 2014 at 4:05 PM

Saba Ahmed is islamic for Sandra Fluke.

Flange on June 17, 2014 at 3:49 PM

I believe the literal translation is overyeasty pita….so yeah it is islamic for Sandra Fluke.

HumpBot Salvation on June 17, 2014 at 4:05 PM

I think you are supposed to feel ashamed whenever she is in the room. Shes oppressed, ugly and wears a half tent, some kafir owes her something.

BL@KBIRD on June 17, 2014 at 4:06 PM

And then there’s this:

Missing Beaverton woman found safe in California hotel

“Saba Ahmed , 26, was found in a hotel in a small California town early this morning, said Sgt. David Thompson, sheriff’s office spokesman. Thompson didn’t have details on the specific town.

Ahmed, who was recently diagnosed with a mental disorder, was checking herself into Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, when she left the location, Thompson said”

whatcat on June 17, 2014 at 4:00 PM

heh, it all makes sense now….I am sure Milbank met Ahmed at the Providence St. Vincent Medical Center……

redguy on June 17, 2014 at 4:06 PM

When I first read this and came to the word ‘Muslim,’ I thought, ‘how did I miss Noah’s original write-up? This is right up my alley.’ Then I realized that it was because the headline blew. So does yours Ed.

The story isn’t that Dana Milbank was dishonest. That’s routine. The story is that he was dishonest about Conservatives attacking a Muslim.

Duh. Is there an HA ban on using the word ‘Muslim’ in a headline?

As for this deceitful Muslima, being Muslim at all should “call into question” her credibility, seeing as how, you know, Islamic texts tell Muslims to lie and all.

WhatSlushfund on June 17, 2014 at 4:08 PM

I believe the literal translation is overyeasty pita….so yeah it is islamic for Sandra Fluke.

HumpBot Salvation on June 17, 2014 at 4:05 PM

I’m sure flat bread and flat broad often get jumbled in translation.

Flange on June 17, 2014 at 4:10 PM

Saba Ahmed has quite the record for disrupting conservative meetings. Just did a quick Google on her and she has been busy being arrested multiple times and has a history of mental illness.

Johnnyreb on June 17, 2014 at 4:12 PM

WhatSlushfund on June 17, 2014 at 4:08 PM

You can do what I do, and refuse to capitalize muslim, islam and the like.
I reserve capitalization for legitimate things.

annoyinglittletwerp on June 17, 2014 at 4:14 PM

The Left is all about staging theater. How many times have we seen Leftist operatives planted in crowds to ask rehearsed, Left-serving questions? The only real item of interest in this story is whether Milbank was in on it during the planning stage or is merely a fooled stooge.

ROCnPhilly on June 17, 2014 at 4:15 PM

What’s a “war whoop”?

Cindy Munford on June 17, 2014 at 3:50 PM

YeeeeaaarrgggghhhH!!!!!!!

GWB on June 17, 2014 at 4:17 PM

So, did she get a phone call from Hussein ?
Or did he send her a box of …..halal birth control to congratulate her ?

burrata on June 17, 2014 at 4:17 PM

I think Dana is the victim here. (sarc)

djl130 on June 17, 2014 at 4:19 PM

Multiple arrests. History of mental illness. Occupy event planner. Friends with convicted terrorist. Democrat activist and candidate. Astroturfer.

Yes, the perfect witness for a hacktastic propagandist to use in attempting to beat back a video he didn’t know existed that undermines a blatant smear of a report.

Like the unlamented Jay Carney, Millbank needs to learn to stop digging when his blind ignorance and partisanship leads him deep in a hole of his own making.

MTF on June 17, 2014 at 4:32 PM

Heh.. Here’s the “republican” that I would vote for a democrat to keep out of office. (Although the way things are going she’d probably be running against louis farrakhan.)

V7_Sport on June 17, 2014 at 4:33 PM

You can do what I do, and refuse to capitalize muslim, islam and the like.
I reserve capitalization for legitimate things.

annoyinglittletwerp on June 17, 2014 at 4:14 PM

‘xactly what I’ve been doing for years. Do the same for dems. I find their lack of legitimacy in many things disturbing. I may soon do the same for the GOP.

hawkeye54 on June 17, 2014 at 4:40 PM

Hey maybe Milbank wrote his article before
this incident happened ? You know like in it’s planning stage ?

[burrata on June 17, 2014 at 4:05 PM]

I don’t know whether he wrote it before. Considering how poorly it reflects reality, or looked at another way, how well it reflects subjective fantasy, I wouldn’t be surprised if the draft was completed beforehand.

What is interesting, from a planned occurrence point of view, is that facts accompanying the occurrence.

Milbank’s introduction asserts this is “the umpteenth in a series of gatherings to draw attention to the Benghazi controversy” yet he happened to attend from the beginning. So I have a few questions for Dana:

– Has he attended all of the umpteenth of them held in DC? If not, what made this one so special he got there from the beginning? And what was he looking to cover when he decided to attend?

– Did he stay for the whole thing (1:00 to 5:00 PM) once this event happened sometime between 1:10 & 2:10 PM?

– And when did he start to work on this boring little event, such that he got it done, edited, submitted and published by 7:07 PM the same day?

– Did he call ahead to notify the WP he had this scoop and was going to run with it and if so, when did he decide this would be the most interesting part of the umpteenth gathering on Benghazi to come out of its attention drawing?

I’d also like to know a couple of other things, like, what he would have done with his time the afternoon of the 16th if this otherwise boring umpteenth gathering which took an unexpected turn he was conveniently there for hadn’t been scheduled. And lastly, did he receive any advance notice that Saba Ahmed, someone unnamed, or some interesting event would occur that he could write about, and if so was it it an anonymous call or did Media Matters identify themselves.

Dusty on June 17, 2014 at 4:48 PM

Milbank’s always been a lying hack.

He was a lying hack before you had to be to get a big job in MSM. He’s a ground-breaker, a pioneer in lying hackery.

Adjoran on June 17, 2014 at 5:25 PM

Always stack the deck!

JugEarsButtHurt on June 17, 2014 at 6:02 PM

“Never thought I would see this day, but I am officially a registered REPUBLICAN. Thank you to all the Oregon Democrats for helping me realize my Conservative Potential. Looking forward to 2012 Republican Victories!”

I have only learned about this today, but are we sure she’s not sincere? I know a good amount of Muslim conservatives. Dingell lost Dearborn in his last couple elections as I recall.

8 weight on June 17, 2014 at 6:21 PM

John the Libertarian on June 17, 2014 at 3:43 PM

Dude – that’s the problem – they are coming. And heads will roll.

Not to get corona79 or Libby Freordie too excited. Probably will make a mess in their pants, if that is not too sexist. Sorry.

GWB on June 17, 2014 at 4:17 PM

Ha! Dude – use that over and over again. You need to use that on that Clinton tax dodging piece. Or when Libby Freordie comments. Scrumptious.

Chuck Ef on June 17, 2014 at 6:23 PM

*patriotic muslims do exist-but there are very few of them*

annoyinglittletwerp on June 17, 2014 at 3:59 PM

So why did so many of them volunteer for the military after 9/11?

8 weight on June 17, 2014 at 6:24 PM

8 weight on June 17, 2014 at 6:24 PM

Not to feed corona79 but the obvious joke line here is “Which military?”

Sorry. I couldn’t resist. Personality disorder.

Chuck Ef on June 17, 2014 at 6:43 PM

Saba Ahmed that tried to win the Democratic nomination to the US House of Representatives in the 2012 cycle, only to change party affiliation to the GOP after drawing less than one percent of the Democratic vote

The Democrats racism, xenophobia, misogyny and plain old war on women can be seen here with Saba getting less than one percent of the vote from those bigoted Democrats. Have they no shame?

RJL on June 17, 2014 at 7:03 PM

Geez, so it is clear that Mr. Milbank and Saba Ahmed have both been totally discredited. It is a slam dunk.

SC.Charlie on June 17, 2014 at 7:09 PM