01/15/14

The Warped Priorities of the American Press

By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media

In a shocking development, the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., has put its weight and prestige behind the bogus “news organization” Al Jazeera and its reporters, now jailed in Egypt, for associating with the pro-terrorist Muslim Brotherhood.

A statement issued by the NPC calls for the “immediate release” of “imprisoned Al Jazeera journalists” in Egypt, but fails to take into account the pro-terrorist nature of this so-called “independent” news organization and its documented links to the Muslim Brotherhood.

NPC President Angela Greiling Keane, whose name appears on the statement, is a reporter for Bloomberg News who mostly covers transportation issues and has no record of expertise in foreign affairs. Her bio says, “She’s written about topics ranging from Chevrolet Volt fires to Toyota’s lobbyist revolving door to the Postal Service buying too many Simpsons cartoon stamps.”

In numerous articles going back several years, Accuracy in Media has documented the ties between Al Jazeera and the Muslim Brotherhood and other terrorist organizations. Indeed, anti-Al Jazeera posters had appeared in Egypt saying, “A bullet kills a man, a lying camera kills a nation.” Fear of the channel’s influence among jihadists and its ties to terrorists led the new government to close the channel—after 22 staffers had quit in disgust over its pro-Muslim Brotherhood bias—and then to arrest several remaining staffers.

Al Jazeera is best known to Americans as the voice of al Qaeda before and after 9/11. However, it now has an affiliate, Al Jazeera America, in as many as 50 million U.S. homes, and demanding even more access to the U.S. media market.

Rather than defend the Muslim Brotherhood and its alleged agents in the media, a case that is under active investigation and possible prosecution by the Egyptian government, the U.S. media should instead rally around David Satter, a veteran reporter with an impeccable reputation whose visa to enter Russia has just been rejected by the Vladimir Putin regime. Satter’s background includes serving as a Moscow news correspondent for The Wall Street Journal and Financial Times.

The far more important Satter case came to light on Monday night, as Russia gears up for the Sochi 2014 Olympic games next month.

Satter has not been charged with any crime by the Russian regime. However, he has shown his willingness to investigate the Putin regime and its use of intelligence agents to blame terrorism on political enemies and scapegoats, and to harass and kill political opponents. This is apparently what makes Satter so dangerous in the eyes of the Kremlin.

Satter’s many articles have included “Russia’s Anti-American Foreign Policy” and “Justice for Alexander Litvinenko,” the latter a reference to a former Soviet KGB officer murdered by the Kremlin after he blew the whistle on the involvement of the Russian intelligence service in alleged Islamic terrorism in Russia. Anna Politkovskaya is one of many Russian journalists murdered for daring to investigate the Putin regime.

Satter, who now serves as an adviser to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, was told by a Russian Embassy official that his presence in Russia was considered “undesirable” and that his visa request had been rejected. No explanation was given, but it may have to do with Satter’s testimony before Congress in 2007 about the involvement of the Putin regime and its intelligence service in the bombings blamed on Islamic terrorists in 1999, attacks which killed hundreds and injured more than one thousand.

Like the recent bombings in Russia, which have given Putin the opportunity to posture as an opponent of international terrorism, the 1999 attacks were blamed on Islamists.

However, it was during President Ronald Reagan’s presidency that Russian involvement in terrorism, much of it emanating from the Arab world, was exposed and highlighted. Putin served as a Soviet KGB officer before becoming Russian president.

Jeffrey Scott Shapiro recently wrote an article for Fox News describing Litvinenko as “The man Putin fears most,” even though he was assassinated in 2006, because of the knowledge he shared about the FSB, the successor to the KGB, and the continuing investigations into the circumstances surrounding his death. Shapiro notes that journalist Luke Harding was expelled from Russia in 2011 while investigating the Litvinenko matter.

Shapiro’s column also cited Satter’s testimony before the U.S. Congress on the matter.

Although it is not known if the Al Jazeera “journalists” in custody are in fact members of any terrorist organization, that would seem to be a proper matter for the Egyptian court system to determine, and not something that journalists in America should try to determine in advance of those proceedings.

The Associated Press reports that Egyptian Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat has accused the Al Jazeera employees in custody of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood and setting up a media network with the aim of “tarnishing Egypt’s image abroad and harming its political position.”

Yet, National Press Club President Keane claims in her statement that the jailing of the Al Jazeera personnel constitutes an effort “to suppress Al Jazeera’s reporting” and “should be seen as anathema to supporters everywhere of the public’s right to an independent and critical press.”

Considering Al Jazeera’s well-documented record of service to the Muslim Brotherhood and other terrorist groups, this seems like a case of Keane and the National Press Club jumping to unwarranted conclusions.

Al Jazeera is not “independent;” rather, it is dependent for its funding on the government of Qatar, an undemocratic regime that sponsors al-Qaeda and Jihadist terror groups throughout the Middle East. Qatar’s role in fomenting revolutions in other Arab states has been well-documented, even by the American press including such papers as The New York Times.

Nevertheless, the NPC statement says, “The club lends its voice to those of other news organizations and free-press groups—including Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists—in speaking out against the Egyptian government’s crackdown on Al Jazeera’s news-gathering efforts.”

This raises the question of whether Al Jazeera was engaged in “news-gathering efforts,” or if it was operating as a mouthpiece for the Muslim Brotherhood—in which case the regime’s “crackdown” was warranted as a public safety measure.

Despite unanswered questions about Al Jazeera’s role in supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, several journalists associated with prominent American news organizations have also signed a separate statement calling for the Al Jazeera personnel to be immediately released.

These journalists include Christiane Amanpour and Ben Wedeman of CNN, Edith Chapin of National Public Radio, Douglas Jehl of The Washington Post, Joseph Kahn of The New York Times, Sarah Lynch of USA Today, Ben Smith of BuzzFeed, and Bill Spindle of The Wall Street Journal.

Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected]. View the complete archives from Cliff Kincaid.

01/15/14

Further Proof That Obama Knew the Truth About Benghazi

By: Roger Aronoff and Bethany Stotts
Accuracy in Media

New details have surfaced which further put the lie to the idea that the Obama administration’s knowledge of the Benghazi attacks was “developing” at the time, and that the administration could reasonably have believed that the terrorist attacks perpetrated on September 11, 2012 had anything to do with the anti-Islam video “Innocence of Muslims.”

Previously, before her famous Congressional outburst asking “What difference at this point does it make?” then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked “Was information developing, was the situation fluid?” as an excuse for blaming the video.

No, information was not “developing,” as recent news reporting shows. In fact, “The FBI interviewed the Benghazi survivors over a three-day period shortly after the attack, and none of them reported a protest or demonstration, according to a Republican senator who says the timeline was confirmed by an FBI deputy director,” reports Catherine Herridge for Fox News.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (SC) said that “The FBI confirmed to me that when they interviewed the survivors on the 15th the 16th and the 17th [of September], not one person ever mentioned anything other than a terrorist attack. No one mentioned a protest outside the consulate.”

“So, how could the Obama administration come up with a protest story if everybody on the ground during the attack said it was a terrorist attack and there was no protest?” he asks.

“What is unclear,” however, remarks Herridge, “is whether this information was immediately shared by the FBI, ignored, or somehow blocked from reaching the White House.”

Similar information has been released by Congress before. The bipartisan “Flashing Red” report, issued December 2012, concluded that “As early as September 15th, the Annex team that had been in Benghazi during the attack reported there had been no protest.” And, it states, “On September 15th and 16th, officials from the FBI conducted face-to-face interviews in Germany of the U.S. personnel who had been on the compound in Benghazi during the attack.”

“The U.S. personnel who were interviewed saw no indications that there had been a protest prior to the attack. Information from those interviews was shared on a secure video teleconference on the afternoon of the 16th with FBI and other IC officials in Washington; it is unclear whether the question of whether a protest took place was discussed during this video conference” (emphasis added).

Senator Graham’s comments reinforce that the FBI knew the video was a “non-event in Libya,” but this does not definitively prove that the White House knew this also. However newly declassified transcripts show that now-retired General Carter Ham, then the head of AFRICOM, spoke to then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and General Martin Dempsey about the attacks that night. He had the following to say before Congress: “Again, sir, I think, you know, there was some preliminary discussion about, you know, maybe there was a demonstration. But I think at the command, I personally and I think the command very quickly got to the point that this was not a demonstration, this was a terrorist attack” (emphasis added).

Ham’s newly declassified testimony provides definitive proof that President Obama knew that the attacks were not the result of a demonstration on September 11, 2012 itself—but he chose to blame the video anyway, even weeks later before the United Nations. This revelation comes from a series of recently declassified hearings which are available on the House Armed Services Committee website.

Agincourt Solutions, a social media monitoring firm, found that the first mention of the video on Libyan social media occurred the day after the attack. Al Monitor points to some contradictory examples by Ansar al Shariah and the February 17th Martyrs Brigade. Al Monitor argues that “To say that the video sparked the attack is not to say that the attack was only about it. Rather, to employ the metaphor favored by Ansar Minbar, news of the video appears to have been the proverbial drop that made the cup overflow.”

This ignores the fact that the attacks appear to have been preplanned for weeks, if not months ahead, an assertion made not only by Mike Rogers (R-MI), Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, but also Libyan National Congress President Mohammed Magariaf, who said on CBS Face the Nation in September 2012 that “definitely, it was planned by foreigners, by people who—who entered the country a few months ago…”

In recent weeks, Speaker John Boehner has been criticized by relatives of the deceased, and other conservatives, for not providing more movement on the Benghazi issue. Do these new revelations by the House indicate that there may be a way forward, and that Speaker Boehner is feeling the pressure?

Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and can be contacted at [email protected]. Bethany Stotts is a freelance writer, and former staff writer for Accuracy in Academia. She blogs at http://bethanystotts.wordpress.com/.