A report published last week by the right-wing site Breitbart News claimed that defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel's confirmation was in question because of his purported connection to a certain terror group named "Friends of Hamas." Since then, Republican lawmakers and conservatives have been pushing the report as evidence of Hagel's anti-Israel views. The only problem, as Slate's Dave Weigel thoroughly explains, is that the group doesn't seem to exist:
Here's the problem: There's no proof that "Friends of Hamas" actually exists. At best, it's an organization so secret that nobody in government has thought to mention its existence. At worst, it's as fake as Manti Te'o's girlfriend. The Treasury Department, which designates sponsors of terror, has done so to many charities tied to Hamas. "Friends of Hamas" is not among them. The State Department doesn't designate it, either. And a bit less holistically, a Lexis search for the group reveals absolutely nothing. I've been unable to find any Senate staffer who knows where the "Friends" rumor came from, and Dave Reaboi, communications director for the (generally conservative) Center for Security Policy, shared my confusion about the alleged group. "Looking back to the 1990s, there were several groups (some affiliated with Holy Land Foundation, some not) that functioned as fund-raisers," he said in an e-mail. "I wouldn't put it past these people to refer to it this way in private, but I doubt highly that they'd actually call a legit group 'Friends of Hamas.'"