BY Christine Brim
In 1980, Robert Dickson Crane converted to Islam. From that year to the present day, Crane has built a successful career as a high-level official in multiple Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas-affiliated organizations in the U.S. and Qatar. At the same time, from 1988 to 2013, his son John Ruedel Crane rose to similar prominence in the Department of Defense to the position of Assistant Inspector General and director of both the Department of Defense and NSA’s whistleblower programs. Crane’s position in the DoD Inspector General office came with high-level clearances and access to a broad scope of DoD information. His tenure of twenty-five years within DoD also encompassed a time of multiple jihadist attacks against American targets, including the 1993 and 2001 World Trade Center attacks and the global war on terror waged in response.
In a recent phone conversation, John Crane confirmed that Robert Crane is his father and stated that, during background investigations throughout his career, he was never asked, nor did he volunteer, any information about his father’s affiliations. We don’t know if the relationship was, in fact, known and approved by the Department of Defense, the intelligence community or by political administrations during Crane’s over two-decade year career. But we can state that the relationship between Robert Crane and John Crane is being described for the first time to the general public in this investigative report.
In February 2013, John Crane was placed on “administrative leave” from his position as DoD Assistant Inspector General, his security clearances and pay were suspended, and he was forbidden to come to the office. He has resurfaced in the public eye in 2016 as the subject of numerous articles and interviews promoting the Bravehearts book in Der Spiegel, The Guardian, Government Executive, Democracy Now!, Russia Today, New York Times, The Intercept, and of course Hertsgaard’s Nation. Crane asserts in Bravehearts and in these interviews that Edward Snowden’s theft of U.S. classified information was simply an understandable reaction to the DoD’s prior treatment of whistleblowers, which discouraged Snowden from becoming a “whistleblower” himself inside the system.
John Crane is now appealing his removal from the Department of Defense and wants to return to his job. If he undergoes any future background investigation, he would be required to complete the new (as of 2010) security clearance questionnaire SF 86, which asks about the foreign affiliations of relatives – something prior questionnaires left off:
18. Is the relative affiliated with a foreign government, military, security, defense industry, foreign movement, or intelligence service? Describe the relative’s relationship with the foreign government, military, security, defense industry, foreign movement, or intelligence service. [Emphasis added.]
In interviews with journalists or with DoD personnel, John Crane never mentioned that his father, Robert Dickson Crane, has been an official in numerous Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas-affiliated organizations in America and Qatar for the last 36 years.
Focus for a moment on the “affiliated with a foreign movement” phrase in questionnaire SF 86. The Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliated organizations are commonly recognized as a “foreign movement.” See for example the Muslim Brotherhood’s own website, Muslim Brotherhood documents submitted as court evidence, CNN, BBC, Pew Research, and numerous other sources.
But the Muslim Brotherhood is not just a foreign movement; it is a movement dedicated to Islamic supremacism and linked to terrorism. The Brotherhood has been designated a terrorist organization by Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Russia, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates. The U.S. Congress is considering a similar bill this year, the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act of 2015 (S.2230, H.R.3892) currently with 7 co-sponsors in the Senate and 67 co-sponsors in the House.
The Muslim Brotherhood motto is “Allah is our objective; the Prophet is our leader; the Quran is our law; Jihad is our way; dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.” They continue to be a revolutionary movement to impose strict Islamic (sharia) law in Muslim-majority countries and the world, using a mix of politics and violence. Al Qaeda emerged from the Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas, designated a terrorist organization, considers itself the local branch of the Brotherhood in Gaza.
For a DoD official with top clearances employed during the three past decades of Islamic terrorism, having a father affiliated with Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas-linked organizations should be considered a particular concern. John Crane’s information access was extensive in his positions in the IG office, as he describes at his LinkedIn profile where he also lists “TS SCI Clearances” as one of his specialties:
As the Assistant Inspector General for Communications and Congressional Liaison at the Department of Defense, I developed, led, and implemented major operational strategies worldwide at over 50 locations within the United States and globally at offices in Europe, Southwest Asia and the Pacific Rim.
I was accountable for creating and executing the complex integrated communications strategy for sharing critical results of the Inspector General criminal and administrative investigations, audits, inspections and intelligence community oversight at both the national and international levels through media outlets, on camera interviews, background briefings and through social media….
… John was also the principal advisor to the Inspector General and responsible for Whistleblowing and Transparency and the DoD Omsbuds [sic] for Whistleblowing. In addition he was accountable for all strategic communications and public affairs to include the Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act… John was accountable for all Congressional testimony before Congress, on topics ranging from financial management to the status of US efforts in South West Asia. He was also responsible for the content and structure of the intranet and internet.
According to Bravehearts, Crane was also responsible for “all whistle-blower allegations within the DoD, including from the NSA and other intelligence agencies.”
The DoD Inspector General office experienced problems with security during the time that John Crane was Director of Communication, according to the Washington Times. According to one report, a routine sweep of the office revealed a listening device “installed inside the wall structure leading to and from the ninth and tenth floors of the DoDIG (areas which comprise the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the personal office space of the inspector general).” A second report stated that “a Muslim who was employed as an auditor and granted a ‘top-secret’ security clearance was not an American citizen. ‘He possesses a Social Security number tied to multiple confirmed aliases,’” according to a May 2002 memo. The employee was reported to have been given an interim clearance and to have visited numerous installations with access to sensitive information.
On September 29, when directly questioned based on our research, John Ruedel Crane confirmed in a phone conversation that he is the son of Robert Dickson Crane. Robert Crane did not respond to a request for comment.
In 1980 Crane “became Muslim after seeing Sudanese leader Hasan al-Turabi preach and pray at an Islamic affairs conference in New Hampshire” (a variation on the conversion anecdote here). That Robert Crane would credit Hasan al-Turabi for his conversion is both surprising and concerning. Hasan al-Turabi became a leader of the Sudanese Muslim Brotherhood starting in the 1960s, was best known for inviting Osama Bin Laden to shelter his entire operation in Sudan from 1991-1996 and according to Human Rights Watch, imposed brutal sharia law as head of the National Islamic Front (the Muslim Brotherhood party) and in high office as Minister of Justice starting in 1979.
In 1980, the same year that his father converted to Islam, John Crane graduated from Northwestern University and immediately started two years of study of Arabic at the Arabic Language Unit at the American University of Cairo, from 1980 to 1982.
The current Department of Justice, now hearing John Crane’s appeal, could end up requiring the Department of Defense to reinstate him as Assistant Inspector General (and head of the whistleblower office for DoD and NSA). If they do, congressional oversight committees should take an interest in his case and ask a few key questions. If Crane undergoes a new background investigation, what answer will he give regarding his father’s affiliations to a foreign movement? Will it be the factual one, or the whitewashed one he provided for Bravehearts: Whistleblowing in the Age of Snowden? Would a factual answer bar a return to his old position – or facilitate it, in a future administration that may actively support the Muslim Brotherhood?
And finally: between 1988, when he joined the Department of Defense Inspector General’s office, and 2013, when he was dismissed, what did John Crane talk about with the IIIT Director of Publications, the Managing Editor of the UASR journal, the AMC Legal Director, the supporter of Turabi, Sudan’s sponsor for Bin Laden – or in other words, with his father?
Read it all.
Does anyone doubt the duplicitous DOJ will reinstate the son of a Muslim Brotherhood leader?