Dan Hirshhorn at Pa2010 has the goods on Michael Bloomberg's endorsement of Joe Sestak in Philadelphia this morning, and a challenge from a conservative activist of Bloomberg's approval of a mosque near Ground Zero:
Bloomberg’s endorsement, during a morning news conference outside a revitalized shopping center about two miles north of City Hall, came as the self-styled independent is traversing the country to endorse an ideologically eclectic mix of political candidates. A billionaire businessman, three-term mayor and Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-Independent, Bloomberg is seen as building his own centrist credentials toward a possible presidential run. In turn, he gave Sestak a late-summer boost, helping advance the Democratic nominee’s narrative argument that, despite an almost uniformly liberal voting record, he is simply a non-ideological problem solver.
“A vote for Joe is a vote for leadership,” Bloomberg said, “a vote for Joe is a vote for independence, and a vote for Joe is a vote for the results that our nation so desperately needs.”
. . . Challenged by Robert Sklaroff, an outspoken conservative activist prominent in local circles, as to how he could support the project considering past statements by the Imam behind it—the Imam has called American “an accessory to the crime” of 9/11—Bloomberg shot back: “I would suggest that you go straight to the library and get a copy of the Bill of Rights.”
After the jump, a bit more on that "accessory to the crime" quote.
It comes from a Sept. 30, 2001 "60 Minutes" interview (transcribed by Islam For Today) among late reporter Ed Bradley, Imam Faisal Abdur Ruaf and four other Muslim leaders re: the 9/11 attacks:
Bradley: And throughout the Muslim world, there is also strong opposition to America's foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East because of its support of Israel and economic sanctions against Iraq.
Faisal: it is a reaction against the US government politically, where we espouse principles of democracy and human rights, and where we ally ourselves with oppressive regimes in many of these countries.
Bradley: Are you in any way suggesting that we in the United States deserved what happened?
Faisal: I wouldn't say that the United States deserved what happened, but united states policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.
Bradley: You say that we're an accessory? How?
Faisal: Because we have been accessory to a lot of innocent lives dying in the world. In fact, in the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the USA.
Bradley: Bin Laden and his supporters were, in fact, recruited and paid nearly $4 billion by the CIA and the government of Saudi Arabia in the 1980s to fight with the mujahadeen rebels against the former Soviet Union, which had invaded Afghanistan. After the Soviets pulled out, the Saudis, our best friends in the Arab world, our staunchest ally during the Gulf War, poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the newly-formed Taleban regime, and then felt that bin Laden and the Taliban were out of control. Bin Laden's faith is a strict, puritanical form of Islam called Washbasin, which was founded in the 18th century in Saudi Arabia, and is now that country's predominant ideology.