Irony alert – can I get a witness?

Back in 2005, a new program designed to remove impediments to cooperation between local Arab, Muslim and Sikh communities and law enforcement agencies was presented to the FBI. The Partnership for Prevention and Community Safety (PfP), “developed with considerable input from law enforcement and local communities, quickly gained the support it needed within the agency and was green-lighted for funding.”

But then a powerful member of Congress stepped in and, with one blow, killed the initiative. According to those with knowledge of the program, the congressman acted at the behest of an influential and strident anti-Muslim propagandist. This week, in an ironic twist, that same congressman is slated to speak at a congressional hearing looking into the allegation that American Muslims are insufficiently cooperative with law enforcement.

The “powerful member of Congress” was Frank Wolf.

Wolf and Emerson: Partners in killing an effective counterterrorism program

The “anti-Muslim propagandist” was a businessman and discredited former journalist named Steven Emerson. Emerson and his company SAE Productions (described as being “in the Motion Picture and Video Tape Production industry in Washington, DC”), are examined here in the context of his opposition to an Islamic cultural center in Murfreesboro, TN last year. The investigative report starts out like this:

“Steven Emerson has 3,390,000 reasons to fear Muslims.

That’s how many dollars Emerson’s for-profit company – Washington-based SAE Productions – collected in 2008 for researching alleged ties between American Muslims and overseas terrorism.”

According to PfP developer and former assistant U.S. attorney Deborah Ramirez, Emerson advocated for an FBI policy of “total disengagement” with the Muslim community. His logic seems to go something like this: Any counterterrorism program in which the Muslim community is willing to participate is, by definition, an attempt to undermine counterterrorism efforts.**

And Frank Wolf went along with this. As Emerson’s friend, and “a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, which controls the Justice Department’s (and FBI’s) purse strings,” Wolf got the funding rescinded.

Imam Mohamed Magid (of ADAMS Center in Sterling, which has cultivated a very productive relationship with local law enforcement and the FBI) and Dr. Hassan Ibrahim, another local leader, subsequently met with Frank Wolf in the hope of clearing up what was an obvious misunderstanding.

Far from a program that was trying to convert FBI agents to Islam, Ibrahim says, the message to Wolf was that PfP would help foster the much-needed cooperation critical to any successful counter-terrorism initiative.

According to Ibrahim, Wolf wouldn’t budge and segued into a litany of complaints about being insufficiently appreciated by the Muslim community in his congressional district. Wolf cited his support for NATO intervention in Bosnia (a decade earlier) as proof of his support for the community. But, he complained, local Muslims had not sufficiently reciprocated with the campaign support to which he believed he was entitled.

Frank Wolf is scheduled to testify today at the hearings on Radicalization of Muslim Americans to defame the Muslim community being held by Rep. Peter King. Hopefully he will provide an excuse for testifying about an alleged lack of cooperation between the Muslim community and law enforcement when he is responsible for trying to prevent cooperation between the Muslim community and law enforcement. I can’t wait to hear it.

**It sounds to me like Emerson just isn’t very interested in counterterrorism efforts. It may or may not have something to do with those 3,390,000 reasons, but his “total disengagement” position is rejected by the FBI and law enforcement in general.

He won’t like this bad-for-the-bottom-line news, either: The tiny minority of actual “homegrown radicals” are extremely disappointed in the American Muslim community, most especially because of its “cooperation with authorities against terrorism.” Danger Room reports on some of the frustrated statements, which sound eerily similar to what we’ve been hearing from frustrated culture war scolds like Chuck Colson of late, and observes:

These statements are particularly noteworthy because they come from American radicals heavily involved in propaganda activities. If the evangelists of al-Qaeda’s narrative are lamenting the moderation of Muslims in America, that tells you something about the market for their ideas.

As for any alleged lack of cooperation, a Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security report released February 2 tells us, among other things, these two details:

  • Tips from the Muslim American community provided the source of information that led to a terrorist plot being thwarted in 48 of 120 cases involving Muslim Americans.
  • Muslim Americans have been so concerned about extremists in their midst that they have turned in people who turned out to be undercover informants.

23 thoughts on “Irony alert – can I get a witness?

  1. Barbara Munsey

    David, interesting quote from the AP earlier when the hearings were just getting underway:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110310/ap_on_re_us/us_muslims_terror_hearings

    “Rarely does a congressional hearing attract as much advance controversy. Critics have likened them to the McCarthy-era hearings investigating communism.

    The witnesses include family members of young men who were inspired by others to go into terrorism, with deadly consequences. They plan to tell Congress that the young men were brainwashed by radical elements in the Muslim community.

    Despite the protests, there’s nothing in the prepared testimony that indiscriminately labels Muslims as terrorists, as critics had feared.”

    The AP got the prepared testimony in advance, and apparently there was no “defamation” in it, as “critics have feared”.

    Well, no time like the present to start campaigning against Wolf for next time.

    Were you able to watch the hearings?

  2. Epluribusunum Post author

    Barbara, did you read the post? Did you read the links? Frank Wolf might as well be campaigning against himself with mischief like this – doing the bidding of an extremist who thinks the FBI should have a policy of “total disengagement” with the Muslim community. It’s just plain dumb, and shows his pettiness.

    I wonder, if the PfP program had been in place all these years, how many other plots might have been discovered due to the kind of cooperation that exists between law enforcement agencies and ADAMS Center. That local situation, which is the model for the rest of the country, exists only because of the leadership of people like Imam Magid, and in spite of the destructive efforts of Frank Wolf. Disgraceful.

  3. Dan Schmidt

    Unsourced allegations about Wolf’s purported involvement … coming from the discredited Media Matters organization.

    So, did Wolf’s testimony give you all you were hoping for?

  4. Epluribusunum Post author

    Can you provide a legitimate source for the allegation that the Media Matters organization is “discredited”? That just sounds like frivolous name-calling, the opinion of someone who doesn’t like the exposure that Media Matters provides.

    The information about Wolf’s involvement and behavior is directly sourced, with quotes from named, and in some cases well-known, individuals. I would hardly call that “unsourced,” would you?

    On the other hand, when I described Mr. Emerson as a “discredited former journalist,” that was based on documented evidence. He was considered a respectable source in the early 90s, but after a number of incidents in which he displayed questionable ethics and an inability to back up his claims – not to mention the flat-out crazy stuff – he is now seen as a mere propagandist, and “poison” to investigative journalists.

  5. Barbara Munsey

    David, I think that many people concerned about the amount of influence Soros has purchased in this country are equally concerned about the amount of “media” he funds.

    Were you able to watch?

  6. Epluribusunum Post author

    How does that remark address anything substantive about sourced material?

    Yes, I was – nothing surprising there. Did you think he was going to apologize for his hypocrisy?

  7. Dan Schmidt

    With a little googling, I’ll offer up this
    criticism of Media Matters’ journalistic integrity. I consider MRC on par with FAIR and Media Matters as far as calling them a legitimate news source.

    Imam Magid states that Wolf did nothing to resurrect the program – after the FBI rescinded the funding for it.

    Where is it stated by anyone (besides the author) that Wolf killed it?

  8. Dan Schmidt

    I’d like to join you in praising Imam Magid and ADAMS for their efforts to fight terrorism. They have proven both words and deeds that their commitment is genuine.

  9. Roger3

    Your false equivalence when compared to the roaring, high-speed, non-stop mendacity of Fox News amuses me. Please continue it.

    Also amusing to me is the fact that you’re defending a racist slimebag because someone forgot to doublecheck two out of dozens of hateful word-vomitus from the man who sung “Secret Asian Man”.

    Additionally, conflating lack of apology (which, of course, is not ever necessary for integrity in journalism, though it’s often appreciated) with lack of correction (which the article you quoted shows them doing so quite commendably and which IS required for integrity) is vacuously sloppy thinking. This will help: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/10836/10836-pdf.pdf

  10. Dan Schmidt

    I’m glad that I can amuse you, Roger3. I also amuse my cat — it reinforces his sense of superiority.

    Could you step back and show me where I’m defending a racist slimebag in any fashion?

    Meanwhile, I’d still like to see a shred of evidence tying Frank Wolf to the defunding of this program.

  11. Barbara Munsey

    Because there are sources, and sources, as other commenters discuss.

    Interesting AP article today:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_fort_hood

    The nine were censured for not doing more to stop the Ft. Hood incident.

    But question, HAD they done more when they could have, would they have had to walk any of the minefield of being accused of profiling, bigotry, etc?

    It would be easy in hindsight to dismiss it with an “Of course not!”, since we now know this man had some serious issues, but hindsight only functions in a past-tense mode.

    What would have been the response had the Dr. been “singled out” before he acted out?

  12. Barbara Munsey

    Wasn’t it members of this community that recently contributed to exposing the alleged subway bomb plot?

    Yes, thank God for their participation.

  13. Epluribusunum Post author

    An observation: Frank Wolf’s connection to this nut has really struck a nerve.

    Whether or not we find more on the record that shows him directly killing the funding in the first place, it’s clear that Wolf is ultimately responsible for killing the program.

    The response to that revelation tells me how damaging you think it is.

  14. Barbara Munsey

    David, I would suggest that perennially raw nerves are evident in the creation of the post, but it’s your blog, and certainly your right to choose which issues to highlight, and how to frame them.

  15. Epluribusunum Post author

    Let’s look at your arguments.

    First is your attempt to smear the source of the PfP story, Media Matters, as “discredited” – but you have not provided a shred of evidence that this is anything other than a reputable media watchdog group, albeit one whose mission you don’t support. Even if we were to accept – which I don’t – the premise that Newsbusters is on par with Media Matters in terms of integrity and quality of research, all that would leave us with is a he-said-she-said between two opposing media watchdogs. I was looking for something a little more objective.

    Secondly, you try to make a capital case of the only detail you can tease out of this well-sourced article to suggest that there’s no absolute proof that Mr. Wolf, as a powerful member of the Appropriations committee, personally acted to rescind the initiative’s funding. In the overall story, that’s not even an especially important detail. The conversation reported by Dr. Ibrahim demonstrates that Wolf wanted the initiative dead, and refused to budge from that position. Wolf is the one they sought out in the hope of changing his mind and reversing the decision, and he is responsible for the outcome. It’s not hard to connect the dots here, especially in light of Mr. Wolf’s associations with other hardcore anti-Muslim activists and “The Family.”

    You can’t spin this one away – although the fact that you want to so badly tells me a lot.

  16. Dan Schmidt

    Struck a nerve, huh?

    First, if we agree to discount partisan sources – the entire basis for your post goes away. Let me know when a legitimate news organization picks up this story.

    Secondly, the most crucial detail (to your post) is the author’s completely unsubstantiated assertion that Frank Wolf was the reason funding was denied. You artfully claim that there isn’t *absolute* proof — perhaps it would be more intellectually honest for you to admit that there is no proof whatsoever. The author couldn’t even find anyone to make the accusation – he had to make it himself. So we’re back to my original point that this is an unsourced allegation.

    One (not so obsessed with smearing Rep. Wolf) can read the facts and testimony in the article and connect the dots: The FBI cancelled the program. Imam Ibraham approached Wolf and asked him to intervene in an FBI decision. Wolf chose not to do so.

    I’ll resist the urge to close with a snarky rejoinder. Instead, I’ll wish you a great weekend.

  17. Epluribusunum Post author

    I’m happy to wish you a nice weekend as well – but also must point out that once again you are attempting to deflect the fact that Mr. Wolf’s refusal to reverse his position on PfP is the story.

    Clearly there’s a reason for the feeling he’s not getting the support he’s “entitled” to from the Muslim community – whatever that means.

  18. Dan Schmidt

    I’m not deflecting — I just can’t keep up with you… you’re backing away too fast from the assertions you made in the original post.

    So now it isn’t that he killed the project – as your post and the MM article insinuates. It is that he chose not to use his powerful position on the Appropriations Committee to interfere with the operations of the FBI.

    Despite your valiant and unrelenting efforts, I suspect that Frank Wolf will continue to carry our district with overwhelming margins – including among his Muslim constituents

  19. Epluribusunum Post author

    Wrong again, Dan – I very much think that he killed the funding for the project at the behest of Mr. Emerson; that’s where the evidence points. But far be it from me to interrupt your rhetorical practice session :)

  20. Roger3

    1. You attempt to discredit MM with a link to NB. You said, and I quote,”I’ll offer up this
    criticism of Media Matters’ journalistic integrity.” (Given)
    2. This, of course, means that you’re in favor of NB’s position on the matter, otherwise you wouldn’t call it a successful critique, nor use that link in an attempt to discredit MM. Put the other way, if you don’t agree with NB on this, then your point fails utterly to be made. (Inference by 1)
    3. NB’s position on the matter is that El Rushbo was done a great wrong by MM. (Given)
    4. Therefore, your position on the matter is that El Rushbo was done a great wrong by MM. (Assoc.3 by 2)
    C. Therefore, you’re defending a racist slimebag. (QED)

    Of course, your real problem with your above post trying to smear MM is the equivocation between two types of integrity. That sort of thing is trivially easy to spot if you know how. That Project Gutenberg book I linked above will help you fix that particular problem.

    Just so you understand, equivocation is where you use a word in one sense in one place in an argument, but (usually unknowingly, to be sure) switch definitions mid-argument. The classic example is:

    P1: Hot dogs are better than nothing

    P2: Nothing is better than steak.

    C: Therefore, hot dogs are better than steak.

    “Nothing” is used in two different senses here, rendering the argument fallacious and irrelevant to any discussion of hot dogs or steak.

    In your argument, you’re attacking the journalistic integrity of MediaMatters by referencing the integrity of their intentions in publishing a list of quotes by Mr. Limbaugh, when in point of fact, the article you supplied quotes MM directly as having a very large portion of journalistic integrity by openly and quickly admitting to having made an error, not once, but several times. You’re making precisely the same mistake NB is making in publishing the article.

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