In the days following tectonic events in Egypt, media outlets scrambled to make sense of the crisis, turning at times to ill-prepared commentators who had little genuine knowledge of Egyptian society and political life. Ironically, one figure called upon in the rush to decipher developments was Michael Scheuer, a former CIA official whose obsessive and bigoted attacks on Israel are matched by few in mainstream discourse.
He denigrates Israel as a parasitical nation that has no value whatsoever for America and which could cease to exist without any cost for Americans. He terms Israel "a spreading cancer on our domestic politics," the "most arrogant, avaricious and treacherous US ally." He excoriates Israel's supporters as "Israel-Firsters," "fifth columists" and "disloyal" Americans who are "enemies" of the U.S. and who "will have to be destroyed" in the political process after exposing their supposedly traitorous conduct. He repeatedly refers to Americans sympathetic to Israel as akin to "copperheads" subversive Northerners in the Civil War. He claims Israel's supporters have previously dragged America into war and that Americans are dying for Israel and he charges Israel is trying to drag America into a future war with Iran.
Scheuer's virulent attacks are also leveled at erstwhile colleagues in the intelligence community. In particular, he despises John O'Neill, the late head of counter-terrorism at the FBI who was killed in the 9/11 attacks. In testimony before a Congressional Committee on April 17, 2007 he said: "I think I also said that the only thing -- good thing that happened to America on 9-11 September was that the building fell on him, sir."
He's expressed similar contempt toward CIA Directors, stating on the Lehrer News Hour on January 6, 2009: "Judge Webster, Mr. Woolsey, John Deutch, George Tenet, Porter Goss, these are all ... mediocrities."
In other statements as well, Scheuer's observations seem strikingly out of the mainstream, yet television hosts treat him with kid gloves. In a segment with Fox's Bill O'Reillly on January 7, 2011 in which the host pointedly charactizes his guest as "a humane man," the topic was Sudan and impending elections by the secessionist Christian southern region of that country that has suffered upwards of two million dead at the hands of the Muslim Arab north. Scheuer argued the creation of a Christian nation in the south would just antagonize the Muslim world and followed a pattern of similar previous American policies. He expressed complete disregard for the loss of life inflicted on the Christians of the south in the following exchange:
O'Reilly: No, no I got what you're saying but what do we do? Do we stand on the sidelines while hundreds of thousands of people are murdered and raped?
Scheuer: We -- we absolutely.
O'Reilly: I mean, that's the problem.
Scheuer: We absolutely stand on the sideline Bill.
In the Egypt crisis, Fox News in particular featured him in interviews to Scheuer's expressed delight. He happily described on his blog the opportunity he's enjoyed in spreading his hate-filled views, whose centerpiece is that Israel and its supporters are primarily responsible for American involvement and setbacks in the predominantly Muslim Middle East and, beyond this, are "stealing" from innocent, needy Americans. He wrote on his blog on February 5:
In a series of media appearances this week on the issue of Egypt it was again driven home to me that non-interventionism and nationalism are two positions that are outside of what Tocqueville called the circle of acceptable free speech in America. Indeed, to argue that Washingtons intervention on the side of Arab tyrannies for 30-plus years has hurt the United States makes one an America-basher; to argue that Israel is a central and increasingly lethal problem for the United States in its relations with the Arab world makes one an anti-Semite; and to argue that Washington should be banned from reaching into its citizens pockets, stealing their income, and giving it to Israel, Egypt, or any other foreign nation when unemployment is at 9-percent, 43 million Americans are on food stamps, the countrys infrastructure is crumbling, and 15-percent of American kids go to bed hungry makes one an anachronistic isolationist and an anti-Semite.
We have apparently gotten to a point in American history where our governing elite, in order to feel good about themselves, prefer funding tyranny and defending theocracies like Israel and Saudi Arabia, while Americans are out of work and their kids are hungry. It seems apparent that the wages of Washingtons unrelenting interventionism are steep and bloody, and that those who lust to intervene care virtually nothing about the welfare of non-elite Americans and their families.
As an aside, whether you hate FOX News or love it, I am continually impressed by the channels willingness to host points of view like mine which are outside both its own and Tocquevilles circle of acceptable free speech. FOX hosts seldom agree with what I say, but they seem to always seek different points of view. This is in sharp contrast to, say, the uniformity of pro-intervention and anti-nationalist views usually presented by Ms. Couric, Mr. Matthews, Mr. Blitzer, Ms. Maddow, and others cut from exactly the same cloth. And in terms of compassion for guests, no one takes better care of guests than FOX. Last night, for example, Erich Bolling was good enough to have a Rabbi on the panel who helpfully explained that to question the worth of the U.S.-Israel relationship showed not only that I was ignorant, but that there is something wrong inside of me, this last of course simply code for identifying me as an anti-Semite. Allowed to articulate my views and afforded a free, Rabbi-provided psychiatric analysis you cant do much better than that!
News outlets can't say they don't know what Scheuer will say. The record is long and easily accessible. Why then are otherwise honorable outlets indifferent to the ravings of an obvious bigot who not only fuels hatred toward Israel and its supporters but makes loathesome statements about Americans he dislikes, including 9/11 hero John O'Neill who died in that attack?
1) Israel and its supporters
Scheuer: Yeah. I think that American foreign policy is ultimately up to the American people. One of the big things we have not been able to discuss for the past 30 years is the Israelis. Whether we want to be involved in fighting Israel's wars in the future is something that Americans should be able to talk about. They may vote yes. They may want to see their kids killed in Iraq or Yemen or somewhere else to defend Israel. But the question is: we need to talk about it. Ultimately Israel is a country that is of no particular worth to the United States.
Scanlan: You mean strategically?
Scheuer: Strategically. They have no resources we need. Their manpower is minimal. Their association with us is a negative for the United States. Now that's a fact. What you want to do about that fact is entirely different. But for anyone to stand up in the United States and say that support for Israel doesn't hurt us in the Muslim world is to just defy reality.
Michael F. Scheuer, Adjunct Professor of Security Studies, Georgetown University
On the question of how to talk about Israel:
This is a good question, but the discussion will be feckless if it avoids what the moderator refers to as intimations that may be "ugly." Well, friends, ugly is here and it has been here for decades. There is indeed an identifiable fifth column of pro-Israel U.S. citizens -- I have described them here and elsewhere as Israel-Firsters -- who have consciously made Israel's survival and protection their first priority, and who see worth in America only to the extent that its resources and manpower can be exploited to protect and further the interests of Israel in its religious war-to-the-death with the Arabs. These are disloyal citizens in much the same sense that the Civil War's disloyal northern "Copperheads" sought to help the Confederates destroy the Union. The Israel-Firsters help Israel suborn U.S. citizens to spy for Israel; they use their fortunes and political action organizations to buy U.S. politicians with campaign donations; and most of all they use their ready access to the media to disguise their own disloyalty by denigrating as anti-Semites or appeasers fellow citizens who dare to challenge them. The Israel-Firsters are unquestionably enemies of America's republican experiment and will have to be destroyed as the Copperheads were destroyed -- by the people, after a full debate at the ballot box.
And how does our former anti-Soviet bulwark help us in the post-Cold War era? Reportedly it sells the technology we supply to Russia, China, and other of America's great "friends." It suborns U.S. citizens to commit espionage against their country on Israel's behalf. It corrupts U.S. domestic politics and elections via AIPAC and other organizations. It deliberately alienates and provokes the growing American Muslim community by inviting prominent Jewish-Americans -- including the mayor of New York -- to come to Israel and cheer on its invasion of Gaza and the Muslim casualties it has produced. And how does America reward this sterling ally-like behavior? The president-elect makes his chief-of- staff a U.S. citizen who abandoned the United States during the 1991 Iraq war to serve with the IDF. Seems to me that if America had a few more allies like Israel we would be well and truly sunk.
Parenthetically, I am delighted that I will not be the CIA officer who has to brief soon-to-be-president Obama every morning with an IDF veteran listening to America's most important secret data. After such an expeirience, how would you ever pass the polygraph?
National Security Blog January 6, 2009
Israel is not only an unnecessary and self-made liability for the United States, it is an untreated and spreading cancer on our domestic politics, foreign policy, and national security. America has no genuine national security interests at stake in either Israel or Palestine; if they both disappeared tomorrow the welfare of Americans and the security of their country would not be impacted a lick. The Arab-Israeli religious war is a war that properly belongs solely to Israelis and Arabs; let them fight each other to the death with no interference in favor of either side from the United States. The continued, automatic, and idiotic identification of U.S. national interests as identical with Israel's made by our bipartisan political elite, the media, and those U.S. citizens who prefer Israeli to American security is only earning Americans deeper hatred and more wars with Muslims. There is no question that Israel has every right in the world to militarily defend itself to whatever extent it deems necessary, but neither Israel, the United States, nor any other nation has a "right" to exist. Nation-states survive if they can vanquish their enemies. The democratically elected Israeli govermment is right to try to vanquish Hamas; and the democratically elected Hamas regime has every right to try do the same to Israel. The point to keep squarely in view is that it does not matter to America's security who emerges the winner.
Glen Beck Show, May 19, 2009
The Israelis - all the Israelis do with us is take - money, guns our political influence. And Americans end up getting killed.
There is nothing that would change for the worse in America if Israel and Palestine both disappeared tomorrow.
Washington's involvement prolongs the Palestinian-Israeli religious war, and its justification of unqualified support for Israel blinds it to the Islamists' motivation. The new administration can serve US interests and facilitate the war's end by breaking ties with both sides. Non-intervention will remove the adult hand that permits recklessness and will leave the combatants solely responsible for fighting until one, the other or both are destroyed, or peace is made. This is a wise policy, and lessons always sink or swim by their own actions. No nation has a right to exist, and the war's outcome is irrelevant to America. Post-war, Washington can consider requests for restored relations. Palestine's request would be mostly pro forma. It does not threaten America. Israel is a different story, with an ominous historical parallel. In 1861 Lincoln said America had faced three questions of survival. Two were answered. Independence had been won and the government administered the nation. The third question: can rebellion by election losers be crushed? was answered positively in 1865. But Lincoln also faced a fourth question: can subversion be defeated? He did so by neutering disloyal Northerners called 'copperheads' who overtly and covertly aided the rebellion. Today's question is identical: can America defeat a pro-Israel fifth column of US citizens, neo-copperheads if you will, that corrupt US politics and form policy-making and amount to the most lethal threat to the State of Israel? For renewed post-war ties, Israel must take five actions to help destroy the fifth column that has made Israel the most arrogant, avaricious and treacherous US ally. Americans have always served God and Caesar but a poor fellow citizen serving a foreign Caesar, as some now subordinate US interests to their Jacobin-like assessment of Israel's. Four public Israeli government actions will focus loyal US citizens on the disloyal. Those who want their taxes spent and soldier children killed and a religious war Israel must lose if the status quo continues
Michael Scheuer, thank you very much indeed. Are you seriously suggesting that the US should be indifferent to whether Israel survives?
I think that's exactly what I'm suggesting.
How could that possibly be when Israel is the closest ally and when it's the only democratic state in the region?
Well, I think democracy is sort of a silly foreign policy goal, sir. We've proved that pretty much in Afghanistan.
Why is it silly when we've shown that democracies are less likely to wage war on each other than non-democracies?
Mr. Sebastian, that's an academic school, I think is very strong here in Georgetown.
Clearly, Mr. Dershowitz, the war in Iraq is the responsibility of the American fifth column that supports Israel.
Oh, that is ridiculous. I'm part of that fifth column, right? I opposed the war in Iraq.
You are exactly part of it, sir.
I opposed the war in Iraq.
Well you didn't do it quite well enough, did you?
More Jews than any other ethnic group in America opposed the war in Iraq. What you're saying is bigotry. Is bigotry. You're accused of bigotry. Blaming the Iraq war on the Jews is bigotry.
Please, I don't want this descending into personal attacks.
Out comes the excaliber of American politics. Bigotry', anti-Semitism'...
But I support the end of all military aid, the end of all diplomatic relations.
All diplomatic relations. You want the United States to cut off diplomatic relations with Israel?
Mr. Obama spent the last months of the presidential campaign "dancing the Tel Aviv two-step," promising to protect Israel as if it were located inside the United States.
SCHEUER: I always have thought that theres nothing too dangerous to talk about in America, that there shouldnt be anything. And it happens that Israel is the one thing that seems to be too dangerous to talk about. And I wrote in my book that I congratulate them. Its probably the most successful covert action program in the history of man to controlthe important political debate in a country of 270 million people is an extraordinary accomplishment. I wish our clandestine service could do as well. The point I would makethe point I try to make basically in the book is we just cannotwe can no longer afford to be seen as the dog thats led by the tail. Ive tried to be very clear in saying we have an alliance with the Israelis. We have a moral obligation to try to work through this issue, if we can. But I dont think we can afford to be led around, or at least appear to be led around by them. And I certainly, as an American, find it unbearable to think theres something in this country you cant talk about. Thats really my spiel I guess on that, sir.
QUESTIONER: Im curiousGary Rosen from Commentary magazine. If you could just elaborate a little bit on the clandestine ways in which Israel and presumably Jews have managed to so control debate over this fundamental foreign policy question.
SCHEUER: Well, the clandestine aspect is that, clearly, the ability to influence the Congressthats a clandestine activity, a covert activity. You know to some extent, the idea that the Holocaust Museum here in our country is another great ability to somehow make people feel guilty about being the people who did the most to try to end the Holocaust. I findI just find the whole debate in the United States unbearably restricted with the inability to factually discuss what goes on between our two countries.
Why Michael Scheuer's extreme and bigoted statements haven't disqualified him as a credible commentator is a question Fox News and other outlets that give him a platform should answer.