Information obtained in a questionable manner led to a campaign ad that I must have heard a hundred times, so I had to know more about my district’s “Manchurian Candidate,” who ended up winning.
The ad sounded ominous, asking just what Abigail Spanberger was hiding? Apparently, she cashed paychecks for being a substitute teacher at “Terror” High, a breeding ground for Islamic terrorists who “even” wanted to assassinate President Bush. Boy did that sound alarming! Even Chuck Schumer wanted it shut down according to the ad. Could we actually have a “Manchurian Candidate” in the making? Well, let’s look at the facts.
First, how did this information come to see the light of day? A Republican-supporting super PAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund, filed freedom of information requests trying to gain “intel” about then candidate Abigail Spanberger. One was a request to the U.S. Postal Service where she had once worked as a law enforcement officer in the postal inspection service.
In response, the USPS mistakenly released her security clearance application to the super PAC, complete with detailed personal information. It never should have been released, that goes without saying. But it happened to include the fact that she had briefly worked as a substitute English teacher at the Islamic Saudi Academy in Alexandria, Virginia.
First, it is a known fact that certain students who attended the academy later plotted terrorist attacks, including one to assassinate President Bush. Some joined al-Qaida.
Second, what did the super PAC do with the information? The Congressional Leadership Fund turned then candidate Spanberger’s brief employment at the Saudi Academy into a 24/7 ad campaign that implied she was somehow directly linked with these Islamic terrorists. This is a very serious charge.
Third, what are the actual details about her time at the academy? Abigail Spanberger did work as a substitute English teacher for the Islamic Saudi Academy for a short period of time. Subsequently she served as an enforcement officer for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service where she focused on stopping narcotics trafficking and money laundering.
During this time Spanberger was actively recruited by the CIA. As part of their intensive vetting process, the CIA would have been fully informed about her previous employment, including the short stint at the academy.
In 2006 she was in fact hired as a case officer in the National Clandestine Service undercover arm of the CIA and worked in counter-terrorism.
I am not sure what the super PAC was thinking when it accused Spanberger, who actually served this country by fighting terrorism, of associating with terrorists. Not only that, they used improperly obtained information which was twisted in an obviously false manner.
I believe it was so over the top that it helped sink their own candidate. I just wish that blatantly false campaign ads backfired more often. Then maybe we would see and hear less of this garbage from both sides. But I won’t hold my breath.
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