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Bush Picks Controversial Scholar for Peace Think Tank

The president avoids a Senate confirmation battle by appointing Daniel Pipes, accused by some of anti-Muslim views, during a recess.

August 23, 2003|Paul Richter | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — President Bush bypassed the Senate on Friday to name a scholar accused of anti-Muslim bias to the board of a federally funded foreign policy think tank.

Bush appointed Daniel Pipes to the board of the Institute of Peace, which was chartered by Congress to study ways to solve international conflicts.

Pipes has spoken out on the danger posed to the United States by Islamic militants and presides over a group that monitors and critiques what U.S. academics are writing about Israel and the Middle East. Critics, including some Muslim and liberal Jewish groups, have charged that he is an extremist who has no place in an organization aimed at bringing about peace.

Several senators opposed the nomination. But Bush avoided a wrangle in the Senate by using a procedure that enables a candidate to avoid congressional review if he is named during a recess.

In a statement issued from Burbank, Wash., where he was visiting, Bush called Pipes a well-respected scholar. Pipes has support from such groups as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Anti-Defamation League.

Pipes, who has taught at Harvard University, is a former official of the State Department and the Pentagon and a columnist for the New York Post.

The Washington Times has written that Pipes "stands out today as a prophet who warned that militant Muslims in America are far more numerous than the agents of Osama bin Laden, and share the hijackers' hatred of us."

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), who with Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) had opposed Pipes' nomination, said he was "disappointed" with the administration's decision. "His views are long-standing, well-known, and decidedly one-sided, and not the words of someone committed to bridging differences and bringing peace," Kennedy said in a statement Friday.

The institute's president, Richard Solomon, could not be reached Friday. One institute official acknowledged that the institute worked with several Islamic scholars and researchers "who have said it would be very difficult to continue with the group if Pipes were chosen."

Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which had campaigned against Pipes, called the White House decision "baffling."

"Why would they go ahead with the appointment of a hard-core anti-Muslim bigot in the face of overwhelming opposition and in a move that will harm America's image and interests worldwide?" Hooper asked.

The Institute of Peace has a program that seeks to reach out to the Muslim world. Hooper said those activities would now be boycotted by prominent Muslims.

"It would be very difficult now for any mainstream Muslim leader to cooperate with USIP while Pipes is on the board," he said.

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