The spectacle of right-wingers like Michele Bachmann throwing around accusations that State Department deputy chief Huma Abedin is a secret agent of the Muslim Brotherhood has been remarkably information-free. So we decided to trace the most ardent supporter's case for radical Islamic infiltration of the U.S. government. The results are a tangled, convoluted mess.

Bachmann's request that the State Department investigate Abedin, who has been a longtime aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for "potential Muslim Brotherhood infiltration," has been roundly rejected by other Republicans as "potentially dangerous" (that would be House Speaker John Boehner) and as "specious and degrading attacks" (that would be Sen. John McCain). But now Newt Gingrich has come back with an editorial in Politico this morning in which he praises Bachmann and four other Tea Party Republicans for asking brave questions about national security. "Whose advice we rely on becomes central to national security," he writes. "Asking who the advisers are, what their prejudices are and what advice they give is a legitimate — indeed, essential — part of any serious national security system." Gingrich is appalled that Bachmann and what he's dubbed the National Security Five have been silenced, comparing the threat of high-level governmental infiltration, by one has to assume Abedin, to Nazis and the KGB. "It’s as though our leaders have forgotten every lesson of the 1930s about fascism, Nazism and communism and every lesson from 1945 to 1991 about communism." We say you have to assume he means Abedin because Gingrich doesn't name her. 

Which has sort of been par for the course for this bizarre episode. While the rectitude of labeling a high-level government official as a foreign agent has been hotly debated, few —  on either side — have bothered to delve into the basis of the allegations. Well, Mr. Gingrich, not everybody has ignored the extensive threads that allegedly tie Abedin to extreme Islamic forces. We looked. We picked through a 37-page paper by controversial writer and supposed former Jihadist Walid Shoebat that claims to have all the evidence Bachmann needed to write that letter in confidence. Several conservative sites have quoted Shoebat in their anger at Abedin defenders. (One calls him a "terrorism expert.") So guys: This is what the Abedin-questioners believe. 

Shockingly, the connections are indeed a little nuts. From person to person, you kind of have to do a somersault to get from Huma Abedin to the Muslim Brotherhood. That is, if you believe the connections at all. Some of the ties to extreme Islamism and terrorism could not be verified by anything on the web other than ultra-conservative sites or Arabic Wikipedia. Most have to do with Huma's mother Saleha, who Shoebat claims was very intimate with Muslim Brotherhood leaders like Yusuf al-Qaradawi. And some evidence Shoebat picked up before it was conveniently erased. It gets so crazy that Shoebat manages to connect Huma Abedin to Osama bin Laden. 

But take a look for yourself! Below, the visual, interactive representation of the alleged connection between Huma Abedin and the Muslim Brotherhood. 

Photos: AP, Reuters