[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/15/art.conyers.gi.jpg caption="Michigan Dem responds to GOP charges about Muslim interns."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) – House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers is blasting charges by a group of Republican lawmakers that a Muslim activist group has planted interns on Capitol Hill in an effort to alter national security legislation.
"It shouldn't need to be said in 2009, and after the historic election of our first African-American president, but let me remind all my colleagues that patriotic Americans of all races, religions, and beliefs have the right - and the responsibility - to participate in our political process, including by volunteering to work in Congressional offices," Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, said in a Thursday statement. "Numerous Muslim-American interns have served the House ably and they deserve our appreciation and respect, not attacks on their character or patriotism."
GOP Reps. Sue Myrick of North Carolina, Paul Broun of Georgia and John Shadegg and Trent Franks of Arizona had held a press conference Wednesday highlighting an undercover investigation undertaken by conservative Chris Gaubatz, who spent several months posing as an intern at the Council on American-Islamic Relations. A book about that operation written by his father, David Gaubatz, and co-author Paul Sperry features a foreword previously penned by Myrick. That book, published by an imprint attached to conservative Web publication World Net Daily, was scheduled for release on Thursday.
In an excerpt of the foreword published by the Raleigh News & Observer, Myrick says the authors had documented evidence Muslim agents are in the country and "carrying out their subversive plan."
"America is asleep to the danger that confronts us," writes the congresswoman. "Since the 1960s there has been a concerted effort on the part of radical Islamists to infiltrate our major institutions. Front groups of terror now operate openly in our country, comprising a network of support for jihadists. …We Americans must wake up before it is too late!"
–CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart contributed to this report.