For the first time, British government censors have banned a 24-hour news channel from British viewers. As of the afternoon, UK-time, 20th January 2012, viewers of Press TV, an avowedly anti-imperialist TV channel headquartered in Tehran and featuring many of the voices found in CounterPunch, saw the words “Channel Unavailable” when tapping their clicker. And so the war on Iran by Britain, Israel and the U.S. continues using propaganda, proxy militants and asymmetric warfare.
Unlike the U.S., whose authorities have so often had to get around the first amendment to ban media from Americans, the UK has no law against the abridging of freedom of speech or against “infringing on the freedom of the press”. The decision was made by Ed Richards, previously Senior Policy Advisor to Tony Blair and a Controller of Corporate Strategy at the BBC. He now runs OFCOM, a regulatory agency charged with judging what news Britons are able to view.
One of the broadcast regulator’s central arguments about Press TV is that it is not convinced that editorial control is based in Britain. I’ve worked for numerous foreign channels that are allowed to broadcast in the UK, so I know this discrepancy will come as a surprise to my former employers at the London offices of CNN International, Bloomberg and Al Jazeera, all of which ultimately answer, editorially, to bosses in Atlanta, New York and Doha.
Press TV Ltd., a UK-based production company making programmes for Press TV has also been fined $155,000. This was because the channel in Tehran, broadcast an interview with Maziar Bahari of Newsweek whilst he was in prison. Bahari, who I have appeared with on discussion panels about the situation in Iran, is on the record as saying he wants Press TV banned and, basically, war on Iran. His views on banning TV stations are shared by the British government. We know this thanks to Wikileaks which released a secret cable from 2010 detailing the views of Jaime (sic) Turner, “Deputy Head of Multi-lateral affairs at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office”:
Her Majesty’s Government is looking at other ways to address the issue. Her Majesty’s Government is exploring ways to limit the operations of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting’s PRESS TV service. However, UK law sets a very high standard for denying licenses to broadcasters. Licenses can only be denied in cases where national security is threatened, or if granting a license would be contrary to Britain’s obligations under international law. Currently, neither of these standards can be met with respect to PRESS TV, but if further sanctions are imposed on Iran in the coming months, a case may be able to be made on the second criterion.
While it is obviously a badge of honour for journalists to provoke such paranoia in a government – how is Press TV threatening UK national security?! – the cable also revealed Britain to be begging for U.S. intervention vis a vis France:
5. (S) In the immediate term, Her Majesty’s Government plans to lobby the French government to approach Eutelsat and press it to drop Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting’s broadcasts from the Hotbird satellite. Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting broadcasts several channels from the satellite, both domestically (even most terrestrial TV channels in Iran are dependent on a satellite and repeaters) and internationally, so it is an important source of income for Eutelsat. While it would be unlikely for the company to agree to drop the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting broadcasts spontaneously, Turner believes it would be susceptible to an approach by the French government because of the cover it would gain from complying with an official government request. Her Majesty’s Government would appreciate U.S. Government engagement with the government of France on this issue.
Nothing happened as regards London lobbying Paris to push the channel off the Eutelsat satellite but over here, I have witnessed bizarre examples of British journalists wishing to crush press freedom. Only in the past week, the UK Sunday Times’ Eleanor Mills wrote that Press TV “… has been fined £100,000… by the TV regulator OFCOM; many may think a more fitting punishment would see the station taken off air.” Such is the insouciant hackery of some British journalists when it comes to issues of free speech.
Those who have watched Press TV (it is, of course, available on the internet let alone nearly twenty free-to-air satellites) will know that its coverage of international events does not conform to the neoliberal news and current affairs brainwashing paradigm in mainstream newsrooms. It is one of the only TV stations in the world that genuinely gives international news, on a daily basis, covering all continents.
As CounterPunch readers know, there is already a war on Iran and this British decision is another front. Let’s hope that at least some of OFCOM’s board – you know who you are, Colette Bowe, Lord Blackwell, Dame Lynne Brindley, Tim Gardam, Dame Patricia Hodgson, Stuart McIntosh, Mike McTighe and Jill Ainscough – will realise that the purpose of the regulator was not to infringe on press freedom. In the meantime, still legal channels such as Russia Today are so far tolerated and give British viewers a view of the world different to the sanitised Orwellian fictions available on terrestrial television in the United Kingdom. And soon, as British viewers continue to switch off their television sets and boot up their computers, UK governments may realise that it is powerless to ban information getting to the masses.
Afshin Rattansi runs Alternate Reality Productions Ltd. One of its commissions is Double Standards, a political satire show for Press TV, broadcast every Saturday at 2230 GMT. Shows can be accessed via www.doublestandardstv.com. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011 are often cited as the roots of “Islamophobia” in the United States. However, attributing Americans’ Islamophobia solely to the events of 9/11 ignores the anti-Muslim propaganda that predated the attacks, and that continues today.
The roots of Islamophobia in America can be traced to a small, well-funded and well-connected network of “misinformation experts” who use Islamophobia as a tool to promote the Israeli agenda here within the United States.
According to a research study conducted by the Center for American Progress entitled Fear, Inc., there are five key purveyors who manipulate Islamophobia to further the US’s support of Israel: Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, David Yerushalmi of the Society of Americans for National Existence, Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum, Robert Spencer of both Jihad Watch and Stop Islamization of America and Steven Emerson of the Investigative Project on Terrorism. American billionaire Sheldon Gary Adelson, terrorism “expert” Evan Kohlmann, journalist Jennifer Rubin, and Emergency Committee for Israel’s founding member, Rachel Abrams additionally contribute to this network.
Arguably one of the most well known Islamophobes, Steven Emerson has proven to be highly influential as well. The goals of Steven Emerson’s organization, the Investigative Project on Terrorism, are to investigate, analyze and expose Muslim infiltration in the United States. The organization claims to be “one of the world’s largest storehouses of archival data and intelligence on Islamic and Middle Eastern terrorist groups.” Prior to founding the Investigative Project on Terrorism in 1995, Emerson worked for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but he left Capitol Hill in 1986 to further his career as a journalist. He worked for the US News and World Report, until taking a job as an investigative correspondent for CNN in 1990. The position was short-lived, and Emerson left CNN in 1994 and produced a documentary film entitled, “Jihad in America,” which he claims in his biography “exposed clandestine operations of militant Islamic terrorist groups on American soil.” The Nation, however, referred to this documentary as generating “mass hysteria against American Arabs,” and furthering sentiments of Islamophobia, which are bigoted, radical and dangerous.
This is not the first time, nor the last, that Emerson’s priorities and motives have been questioned. An article published by FAIR, an organization dedicated to promoting fairness and accuracy in reporting, raises the alarming question, “why is a journalist pushing questionable stories from behind the scenes?” The article questioned Emerson’s unusual involvement in a story claiming that “a senior Pakistani weapons scientist” was behind a “thermonuclear war” supposedly on the brink of occurring between Pakistan and India. The story claimed to have uncovered that Pakistan was “planning nuclear first strike on India.” Emerson worked behind the scenes to give his congressional and media contacts a heads-up on the story, and worked closely with the attorney on the case, who said that Emerson was helpful in “corroborating information and making scientific clarifications.” The nature of his “scientific clarifications” is not specified, and one might wonder what Emerson, who received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brown University in 1976 and a Master of Arts in sociology from Brown in 1977, would have to contribute in this regard. It was later uncovered that the alleged senior Pakistani weapons scientist, a man by the name of Iftikhar Chaudhry Khan, was in fact an accountant at a company that makes bathroom fixtures. At first, it seems unclear why a seasoned journalist such as Emerson would forward this unverified and largely speculative story to his contacts in Congress and the media, at the risk of pushing the world toward nuclear war, as FAIR’s article aptly points out. The article suggests that Emerson’s priorities may have gotten in the way of his professionalism and better judgment, in particular the fact that Pakistan is a Muslim-nation, and India’s nuclear program has allegedly been tied to Israel.
Although Emerson’s reputation was hurt by this incident, he was back in the news following the bombings on the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. As he returned to the political mainstream, he again injured his credibility as a journalist in multiple instances. His book Terrorist was criticized by the New York Times for being “marred” by factual errors and having an undeniable anti-Palestinian bias. Additionally, the Columbia Journalism Review discovered that entire passages of his book The Fall of Pan Am 103 bore “a striking resemblance in both structure and style” to articles published in a newspaper distributed out of Syracuse, N.Y. Emerson’s credibility was even further diminished by his confident assertion that the Oklahoma city bombing of 1995 was undoubtedly the work of an Arab, as it had “an Arab trait,” which he further defined as intending to kill as many people as possible. His willingness to jump to this conclusion and to promote this accusation proved ignorant and bigoted when his assessment turned out to be entirely wrong. Somehow, the American media continues to sanction Emerson. For one Associated Press reporter, the aforementioned errors were not enough to discredit Emerson as a journalist and a terrorism expert. He was asked to partake in a series on Muslim-Americans as a consultant and a resource. He provided the AP with what he claimed were FBI documents that have later been proven to be modified versions of his earlier writings, and one must wonder if the Associated Press’s faith in Emerson has finally been shaken.
Emerson hosts pro-torture Israelis in his home
Emerson’s anti-Arab sentiments are only one side of the coin; he also harbors close ties to Israel. The Jerusalem Post noted that Emerson has strong friendships with Israeli intelligence officials. Emerson has, on multiple occasions, personally hosted Israeli intelligence commander and supporter of torture, Yigal Carmon, in his Washington, D.C. apartment. Carmon has taken multiple trips to the US to lobby congress to continue to support pro-Israel policies. As if these connections are not enough to cause one to question Emerson’s bias and motivation, Emerson’s funding comes from organizations that Fear, Inc. have listed as top funders for the purveyors of Islamophobia, including the Donors Capital Fund, which has given Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism $400,000, and nearly $2.5 million to Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum. He has also received $100,000 from the Russell Berrie Foundation, which has also donated almost $300,000 to Pipes’ Middle East Forum. Additionally, Emerson’s organization has received funding from the Anchorage Charitable Foundation and William Rosenwald Family Fund, which has also donated to Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy, and over $2 million dollars in funds to Pipes’ Middle East Forum. Furthermore, Emerson’s Investigative Project on terrorism gave $3.3 million dollars to an organization called SAE Productions, to study the relationship between American-Muslims and terrorism. SAE Productions has one employee: Steven A. Emerson.
The financial connections between Emerson and other Islamophobia transmitters illuminate what the Center for American Progress aptly refers to as “a small, tightly networked group of misinformation experts guiding an effort that reaches millions of Americans through effective advocates, media partners, and grassroots organizing.” Sound dangerous? Since 9/11, Emerson has been called to testify before and to brief Congress “dozens” of times “on terrorist financing and operational networks of Al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and the rest of the world-wide Islamic militant spectrum.” Let us allow Emerson’s track record to speak to his credibility and whether or not he is the best person to trust with framing our relationship with Muslims in America and in the Middle East.
Robert Spencer, Emerson’s contemporary and fellow Islamophobe, is another name associated with the deliberate spreading of Islamophobia in the United States. Spencer has a Masters in Religious Studies from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and is the founder and director of Jihad Watch, an organization that claims to “track the attempts of radical Islam to subvert Western Culture.” Spencer is also the author of ten books, including two New York Times best sellers, entitled The Truth about Muhammad and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam. His next book, Did Muhammad Exist, is due for publication in spring, 2012. Spencer has been afforded the opportunity to lead seminars on Islam and jihad for the United States Central Command, the United Stated Army Command and General Staff College, the US Army’s Asymmetric Warfare Group, and the Joint Terrorism Task Force. According to a study by the American Center for Progress, Spencer’s book, The Truth about Muhammad, was recommended reading for new bureau recruits as a tool to help them train and prepare for “interviews [and] interrogations with individuals from the [Middle East].” Unsurprisingly, the ACP also found during the Fear, Inc. study that Spencer’s texts seem to be among the most widely promoted by proponents of Islamophobia.
Among those who support Spencer’s endeavors is Pamela Geller of Stop the Islamization of America, Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum, and David Horwitz of the David Horwitz Center. The web of connections between the aforementioned names and organizations is striking. Geller and Spencer are in fact co-founders of Stop the Islamization of America, as well as co-founders of a lesser-known organization, the American Freedom Defense Initiative. According to Fear, Inc., donations made to Geller’s Stop the Islamization of America are received by Spencer’s own organization, Jihad Watch’s PayPal account, implying that the two organizations are more closely linked than one might expect. Spencer has also spoken at Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum, and in turn Pipes has praised Spencer’s book, Stealth Jihad, calling it a “pioneering survey of the stealth jihad whose ambition and subtlety threaten the continuity of Western civilization,” a striking claim. Spencer has also served as a contributing writer to Steven Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism. In 2010, Spencer spoke on many panels with Gaffney, such as a panel entitled “Terror from Within,” and has openly supported Gaffney’s claim that Obama has an Islamist agenda.
These few members of what the American Center for Progress refers to as “misinformation experts” mutually reinforce and reiterate the Islamophobic concepts and accusations purported by one another. It should come as no surprise then that Spencer’s Jihad Watch received funding from the Fairbrook Foundation, which has also donated money to Pipes’ Middle East Forum, Gaffney’s Council for Security Policy, Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism, and Brigitte Gabriel’s American Congress for Truth. The Fairbrook Foundation has also donated money to the David Horwitz Freedom Center, an organization that helps “spread bigoted ideas into American life,” according to the Southern Poverty Center, an organization that monitors hate groups in the United States. Horwitz himself has been quoted saying that “Middle Eastern Muslims are Islamic Nazis who want to kill Jews- that’s their agenda.” The David Horwitz Freedom Center produces two online magazines: FrontPage Magazine, and Spencer’s very own Jihad Watch.
Is Robert Spencer truly an “expert” on Islamic studies, and is he the man we trust with running workshops on terrorism, Islam and jihad at the United States State Department? According to Islamic scholar and professor Carl W. Earnst, recipient of the Bashrahil Prize for Outstanding Cultural Achievement, Spencer “has no academic training in Islamic studies whatsoever,” and notes that Spencer often carefully selects his textual evidence to create and convey the message that “Islam is not a religion of peace.” It is both dangerous to our national security and our relationship as a nation with American Muslims and foreign Muslims to afford Robert Spencer a prominent role as an informant regarding Islam.
Frank Gaffney, founder of the Center for Security Policy, is another influential purveyor of Islamophobia, and is most well known for his conspiratorial belief that Muslims are waging a “stealth jihad” against the United States, and Islam and Sharia Law are infiltrating American government and society with the intent of destroying the Constitution and the freedoms expressed therein. He is greatly concerned with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and has been described as “ideologically close to Israeli hardliners such as the Likud party Chief Yitzhak Shamir.” Gaffney has repeatedly spoken out against President Barack Obama’s supposed Muslim affinity, saying that Obama’s policy on Israel, which is for all intents and purposes very similar to that of his predecessors, will be the cause of “the next Middle East war,” and has even gone so far as to suggest Obama might even condone a military attack on Israel. Unfortunately for Mr. Gaffney, much of his ranting seems far too outlandish and paranoid to be taken seriously; Director of the Institute for Middle East Studies at the George Washington University and Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, Nathan Brown, described Gaffney as a “self-parody,” adding that he has “better things to do with my time than investigating the veracity of his raving.” Gaffney’s reliability has repeatedly been discredited, often by his own undoing. Gaffney claimed to quote Abraham Lincoln in an article for the Washington Times, when he said, “Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled or hanged.” This quote, however, is “completely invented,” and the article has since been removed from the website. Despite his lack of credibility, Gaffney has still managed to become an influential voice in American politics.
Gaffney’s resume is frighteningly impressive. He worked in the 1980s as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Forces and Arms Control Policy at the Department of Defense, where he worked under Assistant Secretary Richard Perle. He was nominated by President Reagan for the position of US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy, and served as acting Assistant Secretary for the better part of a year before his nomination could be officially blocked by the Senate. Currently, Gaffney hosts Secure Freedom Radio; he is also the publisher and associate author of the book “Shariah: The Threat to America.” Additionally, he still heads the Center for Security Policy, a decidedly pro-Israeli organization. According to his biography on the CSP website, Gaffney “also contributes actively to the security policy debate in his capacity as a weekly columnist for the Washington Times.” Gaffney has repeatedly stated that Palestinians have embarked on a “perpetual campaign to harass, delegitimize and ultimately destroy Israel.” He discredits the Durban Conference peace negotiations as being nothing more than “international, and anti-Semitic and anti-Israel hate-fests.” With Gaffney’s continuous Islamophobic rants circulating the Internet, radio and bookshelves, it is impossible to believe that the benefactors of the Gaffney’s CSP are unaware of exactly the type of rhetoric they are funding.
Unsurprisingly, the Council for Security Policy receives funding from the same major benefactors as his Islamophobic contemporaries’ organizations, such as Steven Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism and Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch (N.B.: Gaffney serves as legal counsel to Spencer’s Stop Islamization of America, which Spencer co-founded with Islamophobe Pamela Geller). In 2009 alone, CSP’s revenue topped $4 million. In the past decade, the Scaife Foundation contributed over $3 million dollars in funds to CSP, while the Fairbrook Foundation donated over $20 million dollars between 2002 and 2009. The Bradley Foundation contributed close to a million dollars, while the Becker Foundations and the William Rosenwald Funds each contributed around $400,000.
Gaffney seems to be most well known, in recent years, for his continued attacks against President Obama, claiming the President’s affinity for the Muslim Brotherhood and Sharia Law time and time again. He firmly believes that “nearly every major Muslim organization in the United States is actually controlled by the MB [Muslim Brotherhood] or a derivative organization.” Gaffney similarly purports that Obama is a practicing Muslim, supports the Muslim Brotherhood and is not a citizen of the United States. He claimed that the Muslim Brotherhood was intricately affiliated with both the President of the United States and the Department of Defense, citing a twenty year old “piece of hapless propaganda” written by a single member of the Muslim Brotherhood who the current MB leaders have since completely discredited. Gaffney, naturally, had much to say about Obama’s 2009 speech in Cairo, Egypt, in which the President offered hope to the Arab communities.
While many viewed the president’s speech as a much-needed move “to set a new tone in America’s often strained dealings with the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims,” Gaffney found the historic and progressive speech troubling in two ways. First, Gaffney took the speech to be tangible proof that Obama plans to align “himself with adherents to what authoritative Islam calls Shariah- notably, the dangerous global movement known as the Muslim Brotherhood- to a degree that makes Mr. Clinton’s fabled affinity for blacks pale by comparison.” Secondly, Gaffney all but accused Obama as being anti-Semitic when he said that the President clearly “intends to compel the Israelis to make territorial and other strategic concessions to Palestinians to achieve the hallowed two-state solution. In doing so, he ignores the inconvenient fact that both the Brotherhood’s Hamas and Abu Mazen’s Fatah remain determined to achieve a one-state solution, whereby the Jews will be driven ‘into the sea.’” It seems highly unlikely that Obama is or was trying to drive the Jews into the ocean, (since his Presidency began in 2008, Obama has enjoyed an average of 14% higher approval rating among Jewish voters than the national average), but was instead supporting our national security interests by attempting to [or pretending to] rehabilitate America’s relationship with Arabs worldwide.
Unfortunately, it seems that Gaffney and his contemporaries have a powerful voice. Obama’s recent speech to the United Nations, decidedly pro-Israel, outraged Arabs worldwide, and significantly boosted his support in Israel. The Israeli Foreign Minister claimed it was the President’s best speech of his career, while Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas “listened with his head in his hands.” Unfortunately, because of the undue power and influence which this tightly knit network of Islamophobes have been awarded, the President, vying for a second term, is unlikely to return to his former objective of improving American – Arab relations, a move most crucial to our national security, any time soon. These are the results of the actions of Frank Gaffney, who has been likened to Senator Joseph McCarthy, and other like-minded thinkers and supporters of Islamophobia.
Neoconservative activist and wife of former Assistant Secretary of State Elliot Abrams, Rachel Abrams, is one such like-minded thinker. She is one of three founding members of the Emergency Committee for Israel, a PAC which is “committed to mounting an active defense of the US-Israel relationship by educating the public about the positions of political candidates on this important issue, and by keeping the public informed of the latest developments in both countries.” On Abrams blog, called “Bad Rachel,” she posted a stunning statement on the front page, which outlines what she sees as a fitting response to the return of Israeli captive Gilad Shalit, saying, “those who aren’t strapping bombs to their own devils’ spawn and sending them out to meet their seventy-two virgins by taking the lives of the school-bus-riding, heart-drawing, Transformer-doodling, homework-losing children of Others—and their offspring—those who haven’t already been pimped out by their mothers to the murder god—as shields, hiding behind their burkas and cradles like the unmanned animals they are, and throw them not into your prisons, where they can bide until they’re traded by the thousands for another child of Israel, but into the sea, to float there, food for sharks, stargazers, and whatever other oceanic carnivores God has put there for the purpose.” Unfortunately, due to Abrams connections in the media, she is able to disseminate her genocidal rants to the general public, and help to further the agenda of Islamophobes in America. ECIs advertising campaign that asserted that Occupy Wall Street is primarily an anti-Semitic movement, which as been denounced by prominent Jewish liberals in America, in a release entitled “A Statement Against Smears,” as “an old, discredited tactic.” ECI has also run negative advertisement campaigns against Senate hopeful Joe Sestak and House candidate Mary Jo Kilroy by portraying them as “openly hostile to Israel.” Curiously, ECI does not release its donor information, but it would not be surprising to see many of the aforementioned names and organizations on that list.
One of Abrams main allies in the media is Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin, “who often uses her Post perch to attack both Republicans and Democrats whom she deems insufficiently supportive of Israel and weak on U.S. defense.” She has criticized Dennis Ross, a Middle East policy advisor in the Obama Administration and Editorial Board member of the Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum, for being “delusional” in thinking that he could work under Obama and still benefit Israel. She has also “written in support of so-called Christian Zionists groups that espouse views closely in line with those of Israel’s right-wing Likud Party regarding Israeli claims to Palestinian territory.”
David Yerushalmi, a lawyer and the founder of the Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE), has rhetoric similar to Abrams and Rubin. Yerushalmi, according to the Anti-Defamation League, has a “record of anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-black bigotry,” having once described “blacks as the most murderous of peoples.” According to Yerushalmi, African Americans are a “murderous race, killing itself…The idea that racial differences included innate differences in character and intelligence would [,] it seem [,] more likely than not.” Statements such as this have triggered negative reactions among the media. Yerushalmi, who is himself Jewish, has even alienated himself from the Jewish people by blaming liberal Jews for destroying “their host nations like a fatal parasite.” Yerushalmi is also, alarmingly, one of the most influential members of the Islamophobic network; his work has, in recent years, sought to undermine religious freedom and promote an irrational fear of the infiltration and incorporation of radicalized Sharia law into the United States’ laws. Despite Yerushalmi’s widely known racism, he has still managed to become an important player in the way in which the United States views the Islam and Muslims. A New York Times article aptly summarized this frightening reality by correctly asserting that, “despite his lack of formal training in Islamic law, Mr. Yerushalmi has come to exercise a striking influence over American public discourse about Shariah.”
Yerushalmi’s interest in Sharia law took roots in the aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001. At the time of the attacks, Yerushalmi was living in Ma’ale Adumim, an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank, where he was working on “commercial litigation,” and promoting free market reform in Israel. In just five years, Yerushalmi entirely changed his career path and began to focus almost exclusively on the evils of Sharia, which he equated with radical Islam. By January of 2006, Yerushalmi had founded the Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE) with the goal of promoting legislation that would punish individuals for observing Sharia, and began raising funds for Mapping Sharia, a project of SANE that sought to expose ties between jihadist, terrorist organizations, and American Mosques. This project was of great interest to Frank Gaffney, who told the New York Times that his partnership with Yerushalmi began when the two Islamophobes embarked on a mission to “engender a national debate about the nature of Shariah and the need to protect our Constitution and country from it.” The New York Times noted in another article on the subject that the “more tangible effect of the movement” has been to promote an “alarmist message” about Islam. The message was not quick to catch on, however, until 2009, with the introduction of the Tea Party into the American political sphere, providing Yerushalmi with a political base from which to promote his ideas. In 2009, Yerushalmi and Gaffney officially began the project Mapping Sharia. He began writing potential legislation entitled “American Laws for American Courts,” which was, in essence, “a model statute that would prevent state judges from considering foreign laws or rulings that violate constitutional rights in the United States,” with the purpose of thwarting supposed efforts by American-Muslim jihadists to incorporate Sharia law into the United States’ laws.
The legislation proposed by Yerushalmi declared, “it shall be a felony punishable by 20 years in prison to knowingly act in furtherance of, or to support the, adherence to Islam.” Additionally, Yerushalmi proposed that the Congress of the United States declare war with “the Muslim Nation, or Umma.” In a proposal that harkens back to the dark days of Japanese-American internment following Pearl Harbor, Yerushalmi asks that the President of the United States “immediately declare that all non-US citizen Muslims are Alien Enemies… and shall be subject to immediate deportation.” Yerushalmi does not want Muslims in America; he further stresses this point when he proposes that “no Muslim shall be granted an entry visa” in to the United States, at all. During an interview on National Public Radio, the NPR host began by addressing Yerushalmi, saying, “I’ll start with you because as we mentioned, your policy paper has been the intellectual basis for a number of the measures being considered around the country.” If a proposal by noted racist Yerushalmi is serving as an “intellectual basis” for policy, it seems as if Sharia law is not, in fact, the biggest threat to upholding the integrity of the law of the United States. Yerushalmi’s reach continues to extend, however, and his opinions are now echoed by influential politicians, such as former director of the C.I.A. James Woolsey, which has helped Yerushalmi disseminate information, (read: propaganda) regarding Sharia law. Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy, for example, released a nearly two hundred page report entitled “Shariah: The Threat to America,” which was largely written by Yerushalmi, with contributions from Woolsey and other former intelligence officials, lending undeserved credentials to Yerushalmi’s work. New York Times investigative reporter Andrea Elliot said, in an interview on NPR, that “What was intriguing to me was how this man, who was really a fringe figure, came to cultivate allies and influence people at such high levels — former military and intelligence officials, leaders of national organizations, presidential candidates — how did he make that leap? . . . And I think part of the answer is, in person he comes across not as the erratic character as some might suspect but as a sophisticated man who is convinced by his idea and has an endless appetite for defending those ideas… Gaffney really became [Yerushalmi’s] bridge to a whole network of think-tanks and government officials, including Jim Woolsey, a former director of the C.I.A.” Elliot concluded by adding, “I would say Gaffney catapulted Yerushalmi onto a new platform of influence and their aim seems to have been to get people in circles of influence to understand Shariah in this totally new frame, as a totalitarian threat akin to what the United States faced during the Cold War.”
The Insidious Network
This seems to be the key to how the Islamophobic network operates within the United States, however, with the main purveyors of Islamophobia helping to legitimize the work of their colleagues, and creating multiple organizations with essentially the same purpose and leadership. For example, the American Public Policy Alliance takes responsibility for Yerushalmi’s legislation “American Laws for American Courts.” The APPA is an alliance between Gaffney, Daniel Pipes, the founder and director of the Middle East Forum, Brigitte Gabriel, the founder of ACT! for America, and the American Congress for Truth, and of course, David Yerushalmi. These people and organizations are pointedly pro-Israel, receive funding from many of the same organizations, and use one another’s organizations and connections to mutually reinforce their Islamophobic agenda. For example, ACT! for America spent approximately $60,000 promoting the Oklahoma legislation, which included over 600,000 automated calls featuring Woolsey. Gabriel’s organization claims to “fearlessly speak out in defense of America, Israel and Western Civilization.” Yerushalmi is also an attorney at the American Freedom Defense Initiative, which is founded and run by Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. In a perfect example of how the Islamophobic network is mutually sustainable, Yerushalmi defended Geller in a 2010 court case. Additionally, Gaffney’s CSP and Steven Emerson’s Middle East Forum serve as outlets for Yerushalmi’s work, frequently publishing or offering links to his articles, or commending his anti-Sharia legislation.
These main purveyors often speak out in defense of one another as well, and seem to legitimize the work of the others. Following a New York Times article that suggested Yerushalmi’s fear of Sharia law was more than unfounded, FrontPage Magazine, an offshoot of Islamophobe David Horowitz’s Freedom Center, ran an article claiming that “The Times focuses in on Yerushalmi, as though his Judaic background and love for Israel delegitimize his opposition to Sharia… And to make that point, they’ll sacrifice wives and daughters, and then blame a Hasidic Jew.” In fact, it is not Yerushalmi’s “love for Israel,” but rather his blatant connections to Israel, that have many wondering at his true motivation for defaming Islam. For example, Robert J. Loewenberg serves as Chairman under Yerushalmi at SANE. Loewenberg is also the head of the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, a decidedly pro-Israel organization with links to Israel’s Likud Party. The Likud Party promises to “continue to strengthen and develop” communities in the occupied territories, “and will prevent their uprooting.” If Yerushalmi is receiving his funding and support from organizations that promote similar policies to IASPS, then it is more than probable that Yerushalmi and his contemporaries’ agenda is less motivated by fear of Sharia than by a pro-Israel agenda.
Yerushalmi has been careful to be very private about the donors who fund SANE. What is available, however, is that Gaffney’s CSP contributed an unspecified amount to a study conducted by SANE, which cost around $400,000 dollars, and involved secretly sending researchers into one hundred American mosques to determine the overall level of commitment to terrorist organizations. In that same year, Yerushalmi was paid over $153,000 dollars, consulting fees from CSP. SANE received $1.1 in million donations from 2007 to 2009, of which $950,000 went to “information dissemination through advertising and the website.” It is safe to assume, given Yerushalmi’s public Islamophobic agenda, that the vast majority of contributions come from organizations that share his ideology.
Sheldon Gary Adelson: Financier
One of the most famous contributors to help further the agenda of the Israeli lobby in the United States is American Billionaire Sheldon Gary Adelson. Adelson is the Chairman Chief Executive Officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, the parent company of Venetian Macao Limited. A “self-professed Zionist,” Adelson gave approximately $25 million dollars to Birthright Israel, and $1 million in 2010 to Islamophobe Newt Gingrich’s American Solutions for Winning the Future. Adelson, head of the Republican Jewish Coalition, is “fiercely opposed to a two-state solution” regarding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, and declared that any such solution would be “a betrayal of principle.” It is not surprising then that Adelson also opposed the 2007 Annapolis Peace Conference aimed at achieving a mutually agreeable solution, and is suspected to have donated “hundreds of millions of dollars to Zionist” causes throughout his career. He has invested over $180 million dollars in Israel Hayom, an Israeli newspaper often referred to as “Bibiton,” because of its unwavering support of Benjamin Netanyahu. He has also traveled to Israel to promote a DVD warning about “spreading of Islam in the West,” and warned “participants about the dangers that Israel has to deal with and the risks from radical Islam.”
In 2007, Adelson established the Adelson Family Foundation, which sends money to programs supporting “Israel advocacy and defense, Israel programs, Israel Studies on campus, and Jewish and Zionist Identity and Education.” He is also a Co-Founder of Freedom Watch, and a major contributor to the Zionist Organization of America, and AIPAC. He also largely funds Counterterrorism and Security Education and Research Foundation, (CTSERF), a foundation whose mission statement is to “develop education programs and materials for security professional and the general publics that will enhance our understanding of the causes of terrorism and the measures necessary to deter and combat it.” CTSERF has contributed over $1.6 million to Steven Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism, but Adelson has never listed “the Investigative Project as the end recipient of [his] funding.”
The aforementioned Daniel Pipes is an influential and highly educated promoter of Islamophobia, and the founder of the Middle East Forum. Although ideologically close to his anti-Islamic contemporaries, Pipes is one of the few members of the Islamophobia network that actually has an educational background in Islamic and Arabic studies. The Center for America Progress refers to Pipes as “the academic turned anti-Muslim propagandist,” and acknowledges his respectable educational foundation, having earned both his BA and PhD from Harvard University in the 1970s. Pipes studied abroad during his college and post-graduate years, spending three years in Egypt, and living in Cairo for two years in between college and graduate school. During this time, Pipes learned to read Arabic and studied the Quran, which he says helped him foster an appreciation for Islam. One journalist from the Washington Post book review noted in a 1983 review of Pipes book, In the Path of God: Islam and Political Power, however, that although Pipes “professes respect for Muslims,” he is “frequently contemptuous of them.” Unfortunately, it seems Pipes respect for Islam is limited to Medieval Islamic History, the field in which he earned his doctorate. In the decades to come, Pipes would turn his attention towards what he saw as the emergence of radical Islam, believing that radical Islamists intend to infiltrate the United States government. As the aforementioned Washington Post journalist aptly noted, Pipes begins to display “a disturbing hostility to contemporary Muslims.” One of Pipes’ former college professors, and a former Director for Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies has said of Pipes, “to speak for myself, I have been appalled frequently by his polemical stance on almost everything having to do with Islam, Muslims or the Palestinian/Israeli issue.” The same professor went on to add that “the irony… is of course that Dr. Pipes and other radically and blindly pro-Zionist American Jews are much farther along the chauvinist and ultimately anti-American spectrum than are even radical American Muslims.”
Daniel Pipes founded the Middle East Forum in 1990, but it was not until after the attacks of September 11th that Pipes began to stand out as increasingly Islamophobic, becoming obsessed with “the supposed threat posed by Islam and Muslims in America.” The Center for American Progress describes Pipes as becoming “increasingly out of touch with the realities of the Muslim world at home and abroad, making more extreme and unfounded observations about Islam in the United States.” Following September 11th, Pipes formed three subgroups of his Middle East Forum: Campus Watch, Islamist Watch and the Legal Project. Formed in 2002, Campus Watch was the first of these subgroups. Campus Watch’s mission statement asserts that the group serves to review and critique “Middle East studies in North America, with an aim to improving them.” While this sounds harmless enough, a closer examination of the website reviews that the group seeks to address what they feel to be flaws in the professorate of Middle Eastern studies in North American colleges and universities. In the early stages of Campus Watch’s existence, Pipes encouraged that students report any “Middle East-related scholarship, lectures, classes, demonstrations and other activities” that undermine the goals of Pipes and the Middle East Forum. Campus Watch provides us with the following example and quote: a student at Georgetown University should report Professor John Esposito for saying that Islamist movements “are not necessarily anti-Western, anti-American, or anti-Democratic,” because he is “portraying militant Islam as a benign movement.” Interestingly, Campus Watch claims to fight against the “intolerance of alternate views;” apparently, there is only one correct answer regarding whether or not militant Islam poses a direct threat.
Pipes promotes the idea that the Islamist movement has two faces: one violent and one lawful, which help to mutually reinforce one another. Like Yerushalmi, Pipes is specifically concerned with the later. Pipes’ fear that Islamic law is infiltrating our government is the most curious of his phobias. The second of the groups which Pipes created seeks to expose the Islamist movement and then to fight back against what he calls Islamist “lawfare.” Islamist Watch, a subgroup of the Middle East Forum, asserts that “it exposes the far-reaching goals of Islamists” in the United States. The site includes links to Steven Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism and FrontPage Magazine, of which David Horowitz is Editor in Chief, and where Gaffney is a frequent contributor. These links help to outline the small network of Islamophobes in the United States that mutually reinforce and affirm the assertions of one another. According to Islamist Watch, for example, Islamists within the West are “quietly, lawfully, [and] peacefully,” working to impose “aspects of Islamic law” into the legislature, and to “win special privileges for themselves” within America and other Western nations. Most, if not all, of these supposed “privileges,” including exemption from treatment programs for Muslim sex-offenders, and a law which would put the blame and responsibility of the crime on female rape victims in Norway, sound rather unlikely to occur.
Circling the Wagons: Islamophobes on the Defensive
Even so, Pipes and his contemporaries are not taking any chances. The Legal Project, the third offshoot of the MEF, offers legal protection to those who are “victims” of the same Islamist “lawfare” which Islamist Watch seeks to expose. The Legal Project’s website offers a quote from Steven Emerson, which stipulates “legal action has become the mainstay of radical Islamist organizations seeking to intimidate and silence their critics.” The Legal Project, through donations and funding, arrange for “pro bono and reduced rate counsel for victims of Islamist lawfare,” according to its website. Often, the “victims” are people who have made defamatory and unfounded statements regarding Islam as a religion. The Legal Project has helped some high profile and notorious Islamophobes, such as Geert Wilders, who have been criticized for their anti-Islamic comments. Wilders, who has said, “I don’t hate Muslims, I hate Islam,” and fought for the banning of the Quran in the Netherlands, naturally applauds the efforts of the Legal Project. Wilders has commended and credited the Legal Project for the favorable outcome of his court case last June, saying, “I was acquitted of all charges by an Amsterdam court. The Middle East Forum’s Legal Project… was always there to help, advise and assist.”
The Main Purveyors of Islamophobia Are a Close Knit Group
Steven Emerson passed on control of the Investigative Project on Terrorism to his former intern and understudy, Evan Kohlmann. Kohlmann has written for the Journal of Counterterrorism, and is the author of the book, Al-Qaida’s Jihad in Europe: the Afghan-Bosnian Network, promoting the idea that Muslims are engaged in a conspiracy to promote radical Islam throughout the world. He has written for Daniel Pipe’s Middle East Forum, as well as Islamophobe contemporary Brigitte Gabriel’s Act! for America, along with David Yerushalmi, Steven Emerson, Daniel Pipes, Frank Gaffney and Robert Spencer, which speaks strongly to the Islamophobic network’s ability to mutually reinforce the information promulgated by one another.
Pipes has been interviewed for Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy, and publicly endorsed Gaffney’s book Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America, a title which reminds one of the rhetoric of Pamela Geller, and the Stop the Islamization of America group founded by co-founded by Geller and Gaffney. Pipes also joined Geller and Gaffney in the fight against the “Ground Zero Mosque,” more aptly named the Park51 community center, and expressed his concern that the community center was an example of “Islamist triumphalism,” and would undoubtedly “spread Islamist ideology.” Daniel Pipes was also an influential advocate for the closing of a New York City public school that taught “Arabic and Arab Culture” classes. He referred to the school as a “madrasa,” hoping to promote his belief that “all Arabic instruction is inevitably laden with Pan-Arabist and Islamist language.” Pipes later acknowledged that his use of the word “madrasa” was “a bit of a stretch,” but he defended his word choice, saying that he was simply trying to “get attention.”
Additionally, Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum receives funding from some of the same large donors that contribute to other main promoters of Islamophobia. The Donors Capital Fund, for example, was previously mentioned in this report for having given the Middle East Forum over 2.3 million dollars between 2001 and 2009. As previously mentioned, the same fund also provided Steven Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism with close to half a million dollars over the same time period. In 2008, the Donors Capital Fund also contributed over 17 million dollars to the Clarion Fund, a group formed in 2006 in which Frank Gaffney, Jr. and Daniel Pipes sit on the advisory board. The Clarion Fund produced and released a DVD entitled, “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West,” which was distributed to over 28 million voters living in swing-states during the 2008 presidential election. Interestingly, the Clarion Fund shares an address with Aish Hatorah, a pro-Israel organization and the former employer of all three founders of the Clarion Fund. The Clarion Fund has been accused by International Relations Center as provoking “a climate of fear in the United States.” Upon closer examination of the organizations and funds that contribute financially and ideologically to Islamophobia, the interconnectedness of the main purveyors of Islamophobia is difficult to dispute, and Daniel Pipes, the Middle East Forum, Campus Watch, Islamist Watch and the Legal Project certainly are no exception. We must ask ourselves if we want these “experts” to dictate and influence our understanding of Islam here in America and our vital, struggling relationship with Arab nations worldwide.
During an event that included the transfer of mandate of several members of the high military command on Tuesday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said changes to the National Bolivarian Armed Forces (FANB) are important for strengthening democracy.
Chavez was referring specifically to General Henry Rangel Silva, who was sworn in this week as the new Minister of Defense. “May the decent and patriotic officials of our Bolivarian Armed Forces give their full support to our new Minister. Changes in the National Bolivarian Armed Forces are important for our democratic homeland”, declared the President.
Rangel Silva’s designation as the South American nation’s new Minister of Defense has been hyped up and distorted in media outlets throughout Venezuela, Colombia and the United States. In 2008, the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), a division of the Treasury Department, included Rangel Silva on its list of foreigners allegedly involved in drug trafficking and/or terrorism under the “Kingpin Act”. However, no evidence was presented to support this serious claim.
OFAC also included the head of Venezuela’s military intelligence, General Hugo Carvajal, and then Minister of Interior and Justice, Ramon Rodriguez Chacin, on the same list with Rangel Silva, who at the time oversaw Venezuela’s civilian intelligence agency, SEBIN. The inclusion of the three heads of Venezuelan intelligence was largely viewed as an attack against the nation’s security apparatus, at a time when the US government was considering placing Venezuela on its list of “state sponsors of terrorism”.
The allegations against Rangel Silva, Carvajal and Rodriguez Chacin, were based on unsubstantiated data from laptop computers acquired by the Colombian government during the March 2008 attack on a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) camp. Using the laptop content, Washington claimed the three Venezuelan officials had “materially assisted the narcotics trafficking activities of the FARC, a narcoterrorist organization”.
INTERPOL later determined the information on the computers could not be authenticated nor could the original source of the data be verified. Colombia’s highest court also ruled that the laptop data could not be used as legal evidence against anyone. Nonetheless, the famous FARC laptops have been used by both the conservative Colombian government, Washington and some media to tarnish Venezuela’s image and accuse it of compliance with drug trafficking and terrorism. The FARC is considered a terrorist group only by Colombia and the United States.
No corroborating evidence has ever been presented to demonstrate Rangel Silva’s or other members of the Venezuelan government’s involvement with the FARC or any illicit activities. President Chavez did hold negotiations with the FARC on several occasions under the direct authorization of the Colombian government. His involvement secured the release of several hostages the FARC had held for years, including Ingrid Betancourt and three US military officers.
On Wednesday, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland warned “our concerns about Rangel Silva are well known and of long standing”. But those “concerns” have yet to be substantiated by any legally credible evidence. Rangel Silva has adamantly denied the charges against him. No formal complaints have been brought against him within Venezuela or by Colombia, nor has any other independent evidence been presented to link him to any illegal activities.
Rangel Silva has been a close ally and collaborator of President Chavez for over 20 years. He trained with him as a younger soldier and participated in the Chavez-led military rebellion against the murderous and corrupt government of Carlos Andres Perez on February 4, 1992.
The new Minister of Defense has held high-level positions during the Chavez administration, including head of the intelligence agency SEBIN and Commander of the Strategic Operational Command, which oversees all of Venezuela’s Armed Forces operational activities. At the time of his designation as Minister of Defense, he was the highest ranking officer in the country.
Original Spanish language version: Correo del Orinoco International
Canada’s prime minister Stephen Harper recently professed some biased opinions, opinions that may well be argued to be dangerous, in an interview with the CBC.1
Harper spoke of overwhelming evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. No evidence was provided.
That Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes caused Harper to respond, “I think there is absolutely no doubt they are lying. Absolutely no doubt.” The words “I think” and “absolutely no doubt” are linguistically at loggerheads. “I think” means “to have a belief or opinion”; beliefs and opinions imply uncertainty. They imply possibility of being wrong. They do not imply “absolutely no doubt.”
As for lying, there is a well-known saying that those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw rocks.”2 Then again, one might argue who knows a liar better than another liar? To which one might retort, “How do you know the liar is not lying about someone being a liar?”
The state media CBC did not aid matters with its own piece of disinformation: “An IAEA report last fall said some of Iran’s clandestine activities could be for no other reason than a nuclear weapons program.” The IAEA report has been debunked by many. For example, the IAEA inspector never worked on nuclear weapons.3 Also,
The IAEA claim that a foreign scientist – identified in news reports as Vyacheslav Danilenko – had been involved in building the alleged containment chamber has now been denied firmly by Danilenko himself…4
The well-disinformed Harper reply to the CBC disinformation (why can a state media funded to the tune of $1.7 billion annually not get the story and facts right when a small independent internet newsletter with no budget can? What does it indicate?): “And that, I think, is just beyond dispute at this point.” [italics added] So thinks Harper. Harper added more opinion: “I think the only dispute is how far advanced it is.” [italics added]
Harper opined, “I’ve watched and listened to what the leadership in the Iranian regime says, and it frightens me.” First, the language is demonizing. How would Harper respond if his government were referred to as a “regime”? Second, as for frightening, how about a leaked October 2003 European Commission poll of 500 people from each of the EU’s member nations (n=7,500) who were presented a list of 15 nations and asked: “tell me if in your opinion it presents or not a threat to peace in the world.” The choice of 59 percent was Israel as the top threat to world peace.5
On this there is no dispute: Israel is in possession of nuclear weapons. Israel has launched plenty of wars with its neighbors. Why is the Israeli regime not frightening? Yet Israel is the country that Harper said would always have a “steadfast friend” in a Canadian Conservative government.
Harper opines again, “In my judgment, these are people who have a particular, you know, a fanatically religious worldview, and their statements imply to me no hesitation about using nuclear weapons if they see them achieving their religious or political purposes. And … I think that’s what makes this regime in Iran particularly dangerous.” [italics added]
How is that glass house doing? To talk about “a fanatically religious worldview” when you are allied with hard-Right Christian fundamentalism comes across as chutzpah.6
Harper contends, “While there’s, I think, a growing belief of a number of governments that my assessment is essentially correct, I think there’s still big uncertainty about what exactly to do.” [italics added]
Since Harper is so certain about the danger posed by Iran and its having nuclear weapons, what was Harper’s position on Iraq possessing weapons-of-mass-destruction?
It is inherently dangerous to allow a country such as Iraq to retain weapons of mass destruction, particularly in light of its past aggressive behaviour. If the world community fails to disarm Iraq, we fear that other rogue states will be encouraged to believe that they too can have these most deadly of weapons to systematically defy international resolutions and that the world will do nothing to stop them.7
Another time Harper said, “I don’t know all the facts on Iraq, but I think we should work closely with the Americans.”8
Today Iraq is a destroyed country, millions are refugees, upwards of 600,000 people were killed by a US-led invasion supported by Harper — despite his not knowing all the facts. Is this the credibility people would put their faith in?
Where were the background checks done by CBC News and their ace reporter Peter Mansbridge? What of the duty to report honestly and without prejudice? After all there is a good case that disinformation is a crime against humanity and a crime against peace.9
- CBC News, “Iran ‘frightens me,’ Harper says: ‘Beyond dispute’ that Iran is building nuclear weapon, PM tells CBC,” CBC, 17 January 2012.
- Even the Canadian Senate launched an inquiry into the lies of Harper. See althia.raj, “Senate launches an inquiry on Harper’s broken promises,” Eye on the Hill, 16 February 2011. See also “Five Years of Harper: A Legacy of Broken Promises“; “Broken promises piling up for Harper“; “Stephen Harpers Broken Promises: 100+ Reasons Not to Vote for Harper.”
- See Gareth Porter, “IAEA’s ‘Soviet Nuclear Scientist’ Never Worked on Weapons,” Dissident Voice, 10 November 2011.
- Gareth Porter, “Ex-Inspector Rejects IAEA Iran Bomb Test Chamber Claim,” Dissident Voice, 19 November 19 2011.
- See Peter Beaumont, “Israel outraged as EU poll names it a threat to peace,” Observer, 2 November 2003.
- See Marci McDonald, “Stephen Harper and the Theo-cons: The rising clout of Canada’s religious right,” The Walrus, October 2006; Letters, “Harper and the religious right,” The Star, 13 May 2010.
- Stephen Harper supporting the American invasion of Iraq, House of Commons, March 20, 2003. Accessed at In Their Own Words.
- Stephen Harper, Report Newsmagazine, March 25th 2002. As it turned out, Harper wasn’t the only one who didn’t know all the facts. Accessed at In Their Own Words.
- Kim Petersen, “Disinformation: A Crime Against Humanity and a Crime Against Peace,” Press Action, 17 February 2005.
Uploaded by BarackObamadotcom on January 19, 2012
Defenders of the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act, which declares the entire world to be a “battlefield” against terrorism and authorizes the U.S. military to detain indefinitely anyone suspected of being a terrorism supporter, have claimed that the White House will only use its new power carefully and with due process. Opponents note that the White House has never hesitated to use any new authority, no matter how outrageous, and that the trend of law enforcement and security agencies is to expand on powers granted, not to rein them in or limit them.
The track record of the Obama administration on civil liberties is particularly bad, as it has broadened its definition of war powers, reneged on its promise to close Guantanamo Prison, and supported numerous dubious terrorism prosecutions. It has also become adept at silencing critics through the repeated exploitation of the state-secrets privilege, which effectively dismisses any case accusing the government of abuse or malfeasance.
So let us accept that the government now has the power to send a team of military police to anyone’s home in any state in the Union and can demand that that person surrender without any recourse to a lawyer or judicial due process. The military can then detain the individual incommunicado for any length of time and can presumably send him to Guantanamo for special confinement, claiming that the reason for the detention is support of terrorism, which can be almost anything, including a letter to the editor of the local paper complaining about the goonery of the Transportation Security Administration. Once in detention, the suspect only has such options as are granted to him by the military. He cannot see a lawyer, cannot invoke habeas corpus or other constitutional privileges, cannot confront any witnesses against him, and cannot challenge any information prejudicial to him even if it is hearsay or fabricated. In other words, the accused can be arrested for no reason and held indefinitely without any protections that enable him to push back against being detained. Most people would consider a criminal justice system that permits such detention ipso facto a police state.
Now let us accept for a moment that the White House and Justice Department are well-intentioned and will not use their newfound authority to detain anyone in a questionable fashion. The expanded powers will only be used to detain foreign terrorists who are caught in flagrante, more or less. That would be fine, perhaps, but for one small problem. Because the definition of a terrorism supporter has become enormously elastic, it can be stretched to include anything. If the whole world has become a battlefield, speaking out or acting against powerful vested interests can be dangerous because those interests can turn around and exploit the system to label one a terrorist. And once you are labeled a terrorist, your constitutional rights vanish and you might as well sit around and wait for that knock on the door — or, rather, for the door to be kicked in.
That is what House Resolution 3131 is all about. It is titled, in part, “To direct the secretary of state to submit a report on whether any support organization that participated in the planning or execution of the recent Gaza flotilla attempt should be designated as a foreign terrorist organization….” The bill then goes on to assert that the two flotillas in 2010 and 2011 opposing Israel’s blockade of Gaza were terrorist actions. But the only problem is that it relies on information from the Israeli Intelligence and Information Center to do so, meaning that Congress is deferring to a foreign government organization to make a judgment that directly impacts that selfsame government. And the Israelis are not shy about calling someone a terrorist, if it suits the narrative they are trying to present. They describe a Turkish organization involved in the first flotilla in 2010, known by its acronym IHH, as linked to al-Qaeda and Hamas based on evidence that no one else in the world accepts, apart from Congress, that is. The Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara was clearly aiming to take on the Israeli navy, armed to the teeth with “100 metal rods, 200 knives, 50 wooden clubs, and a telescopic sight for a gun.” In reality, the rods were torn from the ships rails when the heavily armed Israeli commandos boarded at night from helicopters. The knives were pocket knives and utility knives from the vessel’s galley, and the clubs were broken from deck chairs to repel the attackers. I will not speculate on the telescopic sight, but there was not a real weapon anywhere on board. The Israelis killed nine Turks, shooting several in the head at close range, including an American citizen. Congress has yet to express its outrage at the Israeli action — quite the contrary — and Hillary Clinton’s State Department has been silent, apart from warning the subsequent 2011 flotilla that the American embassy would do nothing to protect U.S. citizens aboard.
Regarding the second flotilla of July 2011, HR 3131 goes on to state that “Greek authorities boarded ships and took into custody several individuals, including Captain John Klusmire of the ship Audacity of Hope as it violated Greek Coast Guard orders by setting sail without permission.” Klusmire is a U.S. citizen who was not breaking any American law, it should be noted. He was later released by the Greek authorities.
The bill concludes with its “Sense of Congress,” surely an oxymoron if there ever was one: “the secretary of state shall submit … a report on whether any support organization that participated in the planning or execution of the recent Gaza flotilla attempt should be designated as a foreign terrorist organization … [to] include information on … the sources of any logistical, technical, or financial support for the Gaza flotilla ships, including the Audacity of Hope, that were to set sail from Greece on July 1, 2011.”
I personally know a number of organizations that provided material or financial support to one or both of the Gaza flotillas. I also personally know that none of those organizations support violence against the state of Israel and that the people behind them believed then and now that they were exercising their constitutional rights in speaking out and acting nonviolently against what they and most of the world regard as an illegal and immoral blockade of Gaza. But, if the bill passes in Congress, a bureaucrat in the U.S. Department of State will now be able to call those people and their associated groups “terrorists,” and Hillary Clinton will be able to confirm that judgment to Congress. Next step is the MPs at the door.
If people cannot see what a slippery slope all of this is, they not thinking very clearly. HR 3131 is admittedly still sitting in congressional committee, but it has some very powerful sponsors, including Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, who heads the Foreign Affairs Committee and is a rabid supporter of Israel. The bill not only indicts whole groups of people exercising their constitutional rights and labels them “terrorists,” it even names one American who was, at the time, breaking no U.S. law. Klusmire’s only crime was to “set sail without permission” — in Greece. It was clearly a bogus charge manufactured to suit by a vulnerable Greek government desperately needing international loans and under pressure from the United States and Israel.
Klusmire’s real crime was to oppose a powerful interest group, the Israel Lobby. To do so these days is to invite a charge of terrorism support with the option of being arrested by the Pentagon and locked up somewhere at the pleasure of the president of the United States. How low have we sunk, Mr. Obama? You portray yourself as a man of honor and a defender of constitutionalism, but you have opened the gates to lawlessness and authoritarian rule. And even if you are as benign as you depict yourself, you have provided the legal tools for those who might follow you — the Gingriches, the Perrys, the Bachmanns, and the Santorums — to possibly do much, much worse.
In a January 9 op-ed in the Jerusalem Post magazine, Avi Perry, a former intelligence expert for the Israeli government, appears to be hinting how Israel plans to induce the United States into attacking Iran:
Iran, just like Nazi Germany in the 1940s, will take the initiative and “help” the US president and the American public make up their mind by making the first move, by attacking a US aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf.
The Iranian attack on an American military vessel will serve as a justification and a pretext for a retaliatory move by the US military against the Iranian regime. The target would not be Iran’s nuclear facilities. The US would retaliate by attacking Iran’s navy, their military installations, missile silos, airfields. The US would target Iran’s ability to retaliate, to close down the Strait of Hormuz. The US would then follow by targeting the regime itself.
Elimination of Iran’s nuclear facilities? Yes. This part would turn out to be the final act, the grand finale. It might have been the major target, had the US initiated the attack. However, under this “Pearl Harbor” scenario, in which Iran had launched a “surprise” attack on the US navy, the US would have the perfect rationalization to finish them off, to put an end to this ugly game.
Unlike the latest attempt at an Iranian revolution, this time the US would not shy away, rather, it would go public, openly calling for the Iranian people to join in with the US in working to overthrow the corrupt Islamic fundamentalist regime. The Iranian people would respond in numbers.
Spring would reemerge, and the Iranian people would join the rest of the Middle East – this time with the direct support of the US.
The greatest irony behind this most significant episode in 2012 is that the Iranian regime would affect their own demise. Attacking the US navy in the open seas is equivalent to carrying out a suicide bombing.