Over objections from some Muslim American groups, President Bush is expected to sidestep Congress and appoint a Middle East scholar who has been derided by critics as anti-Muslim to a federally funded think tank, congressional sources said on Tuesday.
Bush's recess appointment of Daniel Pipes could spark a backlash from some Muslim Americans and Democrats in Congress, who oppose his nomination to serve on the board of the U.S. Institute of Peace, which was created by Congress to promote peaceful solutions to world conflicts.
Bush has sought to improve relations with the Muslim American community since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Pipe's nomination has been stalled for months in the Senate, where key Democrats objected to his controversial statements and writings defending racial and religious profiling and suggestions that mosques in America should be targets of police surveillance.
Bush has stood by his nominee and, according to sources, plans to issue a recess appointment as early as this week. In so doing, Pipes would bypass the Senate confirmation process and could serve on the institute's board through next year.
Bush has used recess appointments in the past to appoint some of his most controversial nominees.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations called on Bush to withdraw the nomination after he was quoted by an online news service as comparing "Islamic people" to "Nazis."
Pipes aroused criticism when he launched an organization that collects complaints against professors and academic institutions deemed to be biased in favor of Islam, Muslims and Palestinians.
Supporters of Pipes say he is a respected scholar who was one of the few to warn before the Sept. 11 attacks of the threat posed by Islamic extremists.
"What he has said comes from a wealth of study and knowledge and understanding," said Shoshana Bryen, director of special projects at the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.