By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
Rep. Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana who is the new chairman of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), believes Al Jazeera has a First Amendment right to expand its broadcasts in the United States and that a congressional investigation of Al Gore’s deal with the channel is not warranted.
Scalise, a self-described “staunch conservative,” is the new chairman of the RSC, which is the “caucus of House conservatives.” His action makes it increasingly unlikely that the House will exercise any oversight of Al Gore’s controversial sale of his Current TV channel to the mouthpiece of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The buyer is the Middle Eastern regime of Qatar, which owns Al Jazeera. The Qatar regime advertises itself as “America’s Strongest Partner in the Gulf” but has supported terrorist groups such as al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas. Osama bin Laden aide and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is currently in U.S. custody in Guantanamo Bay for acts of terrorism, lived and worked in Qatar but was allowed to leave for Pakistan as U.S. authorities were trying to apprehend him, according to the report of the 9/11 commission.
In Pakistan, Mohammed planned 9/11 and decapitated Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped while investigating the al-Qaeda networks in the Middle East.
Sarah E. Makin, Director of Conservative Coalitions and State Outreach at the House Republican Study Committee, told this journalist on Tuesday afternoon that she received an explanation of Scalise’s position on the Al Jazeera deal after consulting with aides to the congressman.
Conservatives had been asking Scalise to support an investigation on the grounds that a foreign-funded channel based in the Middle East, with a reputation for airing terrorist propaganda, should be examined for its ties to terrorist groups.
Foreigners are entitled to First Amendment protections in the United States, except when they run afoul of existing laws and engage in criminal or terrorist activities.
By offering the First Amendment excuse in favor of the deal, Scalise is ignoring the evidence that Al Jazeera is not a legitimate news operation but rather a conduit for propaganda from terrorist groups, with whom it has intimate and ongoing relations.
In the United States, it is against the law to provide material support to terrorists, with “material support” defined as including expert advice or assistance and communications equipment.
In World War II, Tokyo Rose and Axis Sally broadcast their anti-American diatribes from overseas and were apprehended by U.S. authorities after the war and sent to prison for treason. In the more shocking Al Jazeera case, the U.S. is officially still at war with global terrorism, but Al Gore is giving the channel a base of operations on American soil with access to 40-50 million homes.
Although it will be called “Al Jazeera America,” the channel will still be totally controlled and funded by the government of Qatar, which doesn’t permit freedom of the press in its own country.
Existing federal law requires that foreign propaganda broadcasts in the U.S. be labeled as such, a provision of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) that the Obama Administration has decided to ignore.
Independent television producer Jerry Kenney has filed complaints over the non-enforcement of the FARA law, as well as violations of Federal Communications Commission rules that have given Al Jazeera access to taxpayer-funded public television stations.
Despite these outstanding legal questions, Scalise, the top conservative leader in the House, doesn’t even want an investigation of the deal. “Who got to him?” is the question being asked by conservatives.
It is a known fact that Big Oil interests in the U.S.-Qatar Business Council are very powerful on Capitol Hill, and that the regime and/or Al Jazeera have used expensive public relations firms to lobby Congress and the federal government, and manipulate the press. These firms include Barbour Griffith Rogers, Fenton Communications, and Qorvis Communications.
Another law being ignored in the Al Jazeera case is CFIUS, named for the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. When the Chinese bought AMC movie theaters last year, they went through CFIUS. Al Jazeera has decided, apparently with the acquiescence of the Obama Administration, that it can ignore the law.
In 2006, members of Congress from both political parties, including then-Senator Barack Obama, objected to a company based in the Arab state of Dubai operating U.S. ports. Public criticism forced the company to drop the deal.
Al Jazeera’s ties to al Qaeda are highlighted in the new film, “Zero Dark Thirty,” where the plot involves the CIA locating Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in part by examining his courier’s proximity to an Al Jazeera office, where terrorist tapes were dropped off for worldwide distribution.
After 9/11, the terrorist attacks on America that claimed almost 3,000 American lives, Al Jazeera correspondent Tayseer Alouni conducted an interview with bin Laden in which he denied being involved in terrorism. Alouni was later convicted of being a courier for bin Laden and al Qaeda.
In his book, Terror and Consent: The Wars for the Twenty-first Century, Philip Bobbitt described how, in the 2004 case of the kidnapping and murder of Margaret Hassan, a humanitarian aid worker in Iraq whose captivity was taped by an Islamist group, Al Jazeera “appears to have carefully screened and edited the tapes to protect the deteriorating image of the Iraqi insurgency.” He wrote that Al Jazeera “moved from being passive collaborators in achieving the political objectives of torture to acting as editorial advisors for the terrorists.”
More recently, Al Jazeera ran a story about the “gentle” al Qaeda terrorists in Mali who kidnapped and killed three Americans.
Another major concern about Al Jazeera’s presence in the U.S. is the danger of inciting home grown terrorism.
Dr. Judea Pearl, father of the slain journalist Daniel Pearl, has been committed to increasing understanding with the Arab/Muslim world, but he recognizes that Al Jazeera does not contribute to real dialogue. He supports an investigation of Al Gore’s deal with Al Jazeera.
His statement supporting an investigation was included in a letter to Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and reads as follows:
“A decade of watching over its programs has left me no doubt: Al Jazeera is the main propaganda machine of the Muslim Brotherhood. Posing as a benign alternative communication medium, Al Jazeera choreographs a world stage in which the West is a perennial villain, Hamas is the ultimate role model, and entire societies are dehumanized to a lower form of life, stripped of any mark of dignity or empathy. While refraining from explicit incitement to violence, Al Jazeera weaves the ideological structure and combustible angers from which Jihadi recruits eventually emerge.”
McCaul received this letter, signed by media critics, journalists, academics, and national security and Middle East experts, on January 9. He has yet to respond.
The Scalise response to calls for an investigation may shed light on McCaul’s striking failure to act against the Al Jazeera deal. It appears to some observers that Republican leaders in the House have made a conscious decision to let the deal go through without a peep of protest.
Another House member who has decided to do nothing is Rep. Paul Broun, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee preparing to run for the U.S. Senate from Georgia as a strong conservative.
Friends of Broun have asked him to take a stand against Al Jazeera but he has told them that his staff doesn’t want him to.
Critics of the deal say that if Congress won’t do its job and prevent the emergence of this homeland security threat, the American people will pressure the cable and satellite providers and the advertisers.
The cable and satellite providers of Current TV/Al Jazeera America currently include Comcast, DirecTV, Dish Network, Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-verse.
- If you wish to protest his wrong-headed position in favor of a “hands off” approach to the Al Gore deal with Al Jazeera, Scalise and the House Republican Study Committee can be contacted at (202) 226-9717.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected].