Tag Archives: Glenn Greenwald

The Hypocrisy of Fran Townsend

Fran Townsend, a former Bush administration advisor and now a CNN contributor

In the midst of the now-famous debate on CNN between Glenn Greenwald and Fran Townsend on WikiLeaks, Townsend claimed:

[The release of the State Department cables] was so vast, of what was public, whether or not it would be useful or no he made no distinctions about the harm he might be doing to foreign governments, to the U.S. government, to diplomats and soldiers around the world.

While Townsend is implying that WikiLeaks’ has caused harm to “diplomats and soldiers”–a claim that has no merit–she is at the same time an outspoken supporter of a designated terrorist group:  the Mujaheddin-e-Khalq (MEK).

Last week, according to Talking Points Memo (and pointed out by Mondoweiss):

A group of prominent Bush-era Republicans, including former NYC Mayor Rudy Guiliani, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former White House adviser Frances Townsend and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, flew to Paris to speak in support of an Iranian exile group there — one that’s been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S.

TPM explains the history of MEK:

The group, known as Mujaheddin-e Khalq or MEK, is a militant group that’s been violently fighting the Iranian government since the 1960s. It has ties to the regime of Saddam Hussein, which trained and outfitted the MEK and for whom the MEK fought in the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s. According to the State Department, which declared the group a terrorist organization in 1997, the group’s philosophy is a combination of “Marxism, Islam, and feminism.

WikiLeaks does not have “blood on its hands,” as Townsend implied.  The MEK, on the other hand, does, according to the U.S. State Department–and has also caused harm to the very same U.S. “government, diplomats and soldiers” Townsend ostensibly looks out for:

During the 1970s, the MEK assassinated several U.S. military personnel and U.S. civilians working on defense projects in Tehran and supported the violent takeover in 1979 of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Despite U.S. efforts, MEK members have never been brought to justice for the group’s role in these illegal acts.

In 1981, MEK leadership attempted to overthrow the newly installed Islamic regime; Iranian security forces subsequently initiated a crackdown on the group. The MEK instigated a bombing campaign, including an attack against the head office of the Islamic Republic Party and the Prime Minister’s office, which killed some 70 high-ranking Iranian officials, including Chief Justice Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, President Mohammad-Ali Rajaei, and Prime Minister Mohammad-Javad Bahonar..

The MEK’s relationship with the former Iraqi regime continued through the 1990s. In 1991, the group reportedly assisted in the Iraqi Republican Guard’s bloody crackdown on Iraqi Shia and Kurds who rose up against Saddam Hussein’s regime; press reports cite MEK leader Maryam Rajavi encouraging MEK members to “take the Kurds under your tanks.”

 

 

How the U.S. Government Promotes Islamophobia

I often focus on organizations and individual right-wing activists outside the U.S. government that have stoked anti-Muslim sentiment here.  But the U.S. government itself is just as culpable in promoting a McCarthyist climate of fear where every Muslim-American is considered a “terror threat” and Islam is turned into the new bogeyman of the day.

The latest installment in the Washington Post‘s investigative series by Dana Priest and William Arkin, “Top Secret America,” provides a look into how the U.S. government is mired in the deep swamp that is Islamophobia in America (emphasis mine):

Seeking to learn more about Islam and terrorism, some law enforcement agencies have hired as trainers self-described experts whose extremist views on Islam and terrorism are considered inaccurate and counterproductive by the FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies…

Ramon Montijo has taught classes on terrorism and Islam to law enforcement officers all over the country.

“Alabama, Colorado, Vermont,” said Montijo, a former Army Special Forces sergeant and Los Angeles Police Department investigator who is now a private security consultant. “California, Texas and Missouri,” he continued.

What he tells them is always the same, he said: Most Muslims in the United States want to impose sharia law here.

“They want to make this world Islamic. The Islamic flag will fly over the White House – not on my watch!” he said. “My job is to wake up the public, and first, the first responders.”

With so many local agencies around the country being asked to help catch terrorists, it often falls to sheriffs or state troopers to try to understand the world of terrorism. They aren’t FBI agents, who have years of on-the-job and classroom training…

Amazingly, the Center for Security Policy, a neoconservative think tank, is also being listened to by the U.S. homeland security apparatus:

A book expanding on what Shoebat and Montijo believe has just been published by the Center for Security Policy, a Washington-based neoconservative think tank. “Shariah: The Threat to America” describes what its authors call a “stealth jihad” that must be thwarted before it’s too late.

The book’s co-authors include such notables as former CIA director R. James Woolsey and former deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, along with the center’s director, a longtime activist. They write that most mosques in the United States already have been radicalized, that most Muslim social organizations are fronts for violent jihadists and that Muslims who practice sharia law seek to impose it in this country.

Frank Gaffney Jr., director of the center, said his team has spoken widely, including to many law enforcement forums.

“Members of our team have been involved in training programs for several years now, many of which have been focused on local law enforcement intelligence, homeland security, state police, National Guard units and the like,” Gaffney said. “We’re seeing a considerable ramping-up of interest in getting this kind of training.”

The fact that Gaffney speaks with law enforcement on how to combat “terrorism” is disturbing.  Matt Duss of Think Progress explains that Gaffney is a person who thinks that “Obama is a Muslim, question[s] whether Obama is an American citizen, [and] believe[s] that the U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s new logo is a sign of the president’s ‘submission to sharia.’”  Gaffney is not an expert on Islam.  In fact, Gaffney did not consult a single Islamic scholar on his “report” on shariah law, and only started studying the religion three years ago.

What’s more, as I explained here, the Center for Security Policy’s general counsel is David Yerushalmi, an advocate for criminalizing Islam and who once wrote that “blacks [are]…the most murderous of peoples.”

Another recent instance of the U.S. government promoting Islamophobia was the arrest of Mohamed Osman Mohamud in Oregon, which in reality was, as Glenn Greenwald put it, the FBI successfully thwarting its own plot.

The next day, this happened:

U.S. investigators said a fire at an Islamic center in Oregon on Sunday was arson and warned they would tolerate no retribution for an attempt by a Somali-born teenager to detonate what he thought was a car bomb.

Jeffrey Goldberg Pushes for War with Iraq–Er, Make That Iran

This piece originally appeared at the FAIR blog:

Former Israeli soldier and current writer for the Atlantic Jeffrey Goldberg has a long cover story (9/10) on the “better than 50 percent chance” that Israel will launch air strikes against Iran by next July, with the aim of taking out the alleged nuclear threat from the Islamic Republic. Based on roughly 40 interviews with American, Arab and Israeli officials–some of them anonymously–Goldberg meanders from describing the worst-case scenario for what will happen after Israel attacks Iran to relaying dubious Israeli claims about how Iran is the new Nazi Germany to an analysis of Netanyahu’s relationship with his right-wing 100-year-old father. He does this while assuring readers that he is “not engaging in a thought exercise, or a one-man war game.”

Goldberg’s is just the latest in a line of recent stories from neo-conservatives and others on Israel or the U.S. bombing Iran (The Weekly Standard, 7/26/10; The Washington Post, 8/1/10).

Why anyone would listen to Goldberg or give him space in a magazine to hype up the threat from another Middle Eastern country is beyond comprehension, given Goldberg’s role in printing propaganda about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction and Iraq’s ties to al-Qaeda (The New Yorker, 3/25/02; 2/10/03; Slate, 10/3/02). That turned out wonderfully, remember?

Ken Silverstein (Harper’s, 6/30/06) is certainly shaking his head–he chronicled Goldberg’s role in pushing for the Iraq War, writing that:

In urging war on Iraq, Goldberg took highly dubious assertions—for example, that Saddam was an irrational madman in control of vast quantities of WMDs and that Iraq and Al Qaeda were deeply in bed together—and essentially asserted them as fact…

Back in late 2003, at a panel discussion hosted by the New School for Social Research, the topic of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction came up. “Did the CIA simply mess up?” Goldberg asked Paul Wolfowitz. “Did I?” is the question he should have asked.

A lot has already been written about Goldberg’s latest, so here’s a selection of good analysis:

-Iran experts Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett on “the weak case for war with Iran” (Foreign Policy, 8/11/10).

-Jonathan Schwartz (A Tiny Revolution, 8/11/10) argues that Goldberg is “America’s greatest foreign policy propagandist.”

-Glenn Greenwald on why Goldberg’s piece is “exhibit A” on “how propagandists function” (Salon, 8/12/10).

-Eli Clifton on how Goldberg’s article “is part of a campaign to push the Obama administration into authorizing a U.S. military strike rather than having any particularly believable scoops about an impending Israeli attack” (Lobelog, 8/10/10).

-Matt Duss on why an attack on Iran would have a “low likelihood of success” but a “high likelihood of disaster” (Wonk Room, 8/11/10).

-Paul Woodward on how the article is part of a campaign to put the Obama administration in a box to get the U.S. to bomb Iran (War in Context, 8/11/10).

-Tony Karon on Goldberg being willingly used by both U.S. and Israeli officials to “send messages” about both countries’ postures toward Iran (Rootless Cosmopolitan, 8/12/10).