I see the press is reporting a dust-up over Michelle Bachmann's criticism of the influence of Huma Abedin (aka Mrs. Anthony Weiner) at State. Bachmann and others wrote a letter that seems to imply that the recent State slant in favor of the Muslim Bortherhood can be at least partially attributed to the influence that Huma Abedin, one of Clinton's chief aides, has over her boss.
My own best guess, based on 34 years at State, is that the answer is "yes and no."
I think it is a valid question to look into the process of giving Huma Abedin a security clearance. Having gone through the clearance process many, many times, I can assure you that it is a notoriously sloppy and uneven one. Certainly Huma Abedin has some issues which a security clearance investigation would need to take seriously. She, for example, lived much of her life in Saudi Arabia and her mother continues to live there. There are allegations that some of her close relatives, including her late father and her Pakistani mother had or have some sort of connections to the Muslim Brotherhood. I have no idea whether that is true. On the other hand, in her favor, I guess, Abedin has married outside of her faith, to a rather goofy almost Woody Allen-esque half-Jewish politician, no less, and does not seem to be a particularly devout or radical Muslim.
I have no idea how seriously Huma Abedin was investigated before she received a top secret clearance. Given, however, her powerful Washington connections, including her long relationship with the Clintons and with the Democratic machine in Washington and New York, it is probably not unfair to assume that the investigation was slanted in her favor from the start. That does not mean it did not reach a proper conclusion, just that it was unlikely, absent some glaring piece of evidence, to reach any other.
As far I can recollect, I have met Abedin twice, and both times very briefly. In both meetings the only topics of discussion were some technical details about travel by Hillary Clinton to Latin America, and a proposed speech at the Organization of American States (OAS). Abedin made no particular impression on me; she seemed just another one of the many "high powered" female aides that seem to surround Hillary Clinton and control both access and information to her. She was pleasant and certainly did not have the faux-intellectual pretensions and arrogance of Clinton's Counselor Cheryl Mills. She merely had limited to no knowledge about Latin American issues, said nothing about the substantive issues, and appeared only concerned about her boss's image and schedule. In other words, she was just another overpaid and typical SecState aide.
While Bachmann, et al, are on to something about the lean towards the Muslim Brotherhood, I think the issue is considerably more serious and more difficult than the possible political leanings of one aide, even a close one. I have written before about the dominant culture at State, and the general vacuousness and downright ignorance of our current Secretary of State.
A prominent feature of the State Department culture is to suppress bad news. Events must be interpreted, defined, and spun in the most positive way possible before the information moves up the ladder of command. At each step in that ladder, the information is further massaged, reshaped, and bleached; the Secretary must never get bad news, unless there is a solution, or a "deliverable" ready to go. If you send unvarnished, unprocessed, non-massaged bad news to your boss, the reaction is, "Hmm? So it seems, Mr. S. Pants, that you have lost control of your portfolio. Is that true? Are you unable to manage your issues?" People who worked for Stalin would recognize the environment -- well, except for the firing squads.
The Obama-Clinton foreign policy vis-a-vis Egypt and the removal of Mubarak has proven an unmitigated disaster. It is only comparable to Carter's mishandling of the Shah in Iran, and in the long run, might have equally dire consequences. My erstwhile colleagues at State, who so gleefully embraced the "Arab Spring," rooted for the protestors in Tahir Square, and promoted the distancing of the United States from our one true ally in the region, Israel, are now scrambling to "fix things." The best way to "fix" a problem is to deny that it exists; to define the issue in a way that is not at all a problem, but an opportunity! The removal of Hosni Mubarak has led to what anyone with two-cents worth of brains knew would happen: the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), the best organized and hardest working group in Egypt has filled the vacuum. It is perfectly willing to use the instruments of liberal democracy to take power and turn Egypt into another mad Muslim theocracy. For now, the MB must limit itself to the instruments and quasi-language of "liberal democracy" because it fears the Egyptian military, which is not fooled by the MB. The military know that today's MB is just a craftier and even more dangerous version of the old MB.
The folks at State, meanwhile, are busy defining away the problem. The MB's rise to prominence is not a problem! They have shown themselves willing to participate in the electoral process, haven't they? The head of the MB speaks English and has studied in the US! We can razzle-dazzle him with a visit by our celebrity SecState! The only problem in Egypt is that the conservative military officers are bound and determined to limit the scope of democratic change. We can promote democracy AND get in good with the MB! And you, Madame Secretary, who can resist your charm, your political skills? Those stuffy ol' military officers will just melt with your impeccable pro-democracy logic (and threats), and the MB will realize that we are their friends! It's a win-win!
That State culture, combined with an empty-headed, conceited, celebrity SecState is a formula for disaster. Add in a presumably knowledgable sounding Huma Abedin, who might possibly be inclined in the direction of the MB, and has the Secretary's ear, and we have what we have: the most dangerous situation in the Middle East in over 40 years.
State needs a radical redo, from top to bottom.