Michael Scheuer’s Disinformation Compounds C-SPAN’s Israel/Jewish Problem

C-SPAN’s Washington Journal Israel/Jewish problem has been documented in CAMERA’s Web feature, C-SPAN Watch, since November 2008. According to C-SPAN’s Web site, an estimated 28,500,000 viewers tune in each week – making it an information source of potential significance. Among its most popular programs is the Journal which is a daily public affairs program with viewer phone-ins. However, the Journal is a platform for the defamation of Israel and Jews. No other ethnic or religious group or nation is repeatedly vilified on these broadcasts. C-SPAN hosts often sit passively, tolerating bigoted callers, many of whom violate the network’s ostensible one-call-per-thirty-days rule.

A few of the Journal’s many guest experts, particularly Michael Scheuer, significantly exacerbate the problem. Scheuer’s obsessive bashing of Israel/Jews and his misinformation about Islamism has been documented here, here, here and here. Scheuer’s numerous C-SPAN appearances (mainly on Washington Journal) in recent years include: In 2012 – May 6; in 2011 – Sept. 10, May 2, March 3, Feb. 10; in 2010 – Dec. 21, Jan. 4; in 2009 – Aug. 9; in 2008 – April 4; in 2007 – April 15; in 2006 – July 7; in 2004 – Nov. 24.
Exactly What is it that Qualifies Scheuer as a Credible Guest?
Invitations to Scheuer by C-SPAN and others, particularly Fox News Channel, to appear as a guest expert on bin Laden, Islamism and Middle East conflicts seem to violate journalistic emphasis on accuracy and context as well as the requirement of credible sources. During his tenure (1996-1999) as head of the CIA bin Laden unit and as special adviser to the group (2001-2004), it failed to find and eliminate bin Laden. His first post-CIA book, Imperial Hubris, reads much like a former official’s “if-only-they’d listened-to-me” self-vindication. As noted historian and columnist Victor Davis Hanson has said, the more audiences heard from Scheuer the less they were impressed, “especially by Scheuer’s assertions in interviews that Osama bin Laden shouldn’t be identified as a terrorist, and that the Holocaust Museum in Washington was a means to make Americans feel guilty about the Holocaust. … Scheuer sounds goofier each time he gives an interview.” Off-base and bigoted. So why is C-SPAN still interviewing him?
Nothing seems to commend him as a guest except his fading CIA connection and possibly his brash, superficial sound-bites. Recently, Scheuer, commenting on Fox & Friends Sunday May 13, 2012 (7:18 AM) regarding spying committed by foreign countries on the United States, and ever alert for an opportunity to disparage Israel, listed Israel first: “[W]e have a number of people whom we consider allies who spy on us to steal our industrial secrets or our military secrets. The Israelis are very active in that regard, the Saudis are very active in that regard and last we have the Chinese, of course, who probably have the biggest intelligence presence …” Given the anchor person’s obvious reticence to critically scrutinize any Scheuer assertion, it’s not surprising that there was neither a question about listing Israel, especially first, nor mention of Israel’s valuable contributions to cooperative efforts with the United States including in intelligence. Moreover, it’s well known that governments, even allies, routinely spy on each other. For example, a New York Times story  reported on F.B.I. wiretaps of the Israeli Embassy in Washington.
Scheuer’s May 6 Journal segment 7:51-8:37 AM, “Bin Laden documents released,” demonstrated yet again Scheuer’s misinformation and biased opinions regarding Islamism and Israel. Though none of the segment’s eight viewer calls or several e-mails and tweets referred to Israel either directly or indirectly, Scheuer, unchallenged by host Steve Scully, gradually increased his emphasis in falsely charging that Israel’s actions have constituted a major motivation for jihadist attacks against the West and its Middle Eastern interests as epitomized by those of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.

Scheuer’s emphasis is contradicted by, among other sources, the official United States government 9/11 commission report. This report highlights the primary reason for al Qaeda’s Sept. 11, 2001 destruction of New York City’s World Trade Center and strike at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.: Osama bin Laden’s hostility to the United States and West was mainly driven by Islamic extremism, his obsession with ousting “un-Islamic” regimes in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, desire to re-establish an international Sunni Islamic caliphate, and, in essence, bin Laden’s Islamic superiority complex.

Scheuer’s Unwillingness (or Inability) to Accurately Characterize Motivation for Islamic Jihadist Terrorism

At 8:00 AM in the segment, Scheuer said:

What motivates these people [Islamic jihadists] is they believe they are fighting for their faith and whether we agree with that or not is largely irrelevant. They believe their faith is under attack by U.S. foreign policy and by the foreign policy of our allies whether it is support for the Saudi police state, our presence on the Arabian peninsula, our bombing of Libya and Yemen, our support for the Israelis [emphasis added]. These are substantive issues and we have a situation where the United States government identifies the motivation of our enemy. But they [Islamic jihadists] tell us repeatedly hell, they don’t care how we live in North America. They want to get us out of their backyard.

Scheuer’s notion that “they [jihadists] don’t care how we live in North America” ignores facts to the contrary. These include: Islam has alternately gone through jihadist and quiescent periods; that some Muslim-dominated portions of European cities have become “no-go” areas for police and other local authorities; and that, according to an internal memo released during the federal trial of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, members of Muslim Brotherhood-linked groups in North America “must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers ….” (HLF leaders were found guilty of money laundering for the Hamas terrorist organization). Initially (seventh century), Muslims swept through much of the known world fr om the Arabian peninsula north into Europe and west into the Middle East and Africa and later eastward into Asia. The fact that Muslims did “care how we live” accounts for the existence today of numerous Muslim dominated societies in northern Africa, southeastern Europe (the Balkans) and Asia. At least in part, the current jihadist rejuvenation can be seen as a return to the fervor of the original jihadists as reflected in bin Laden’s stated desire to re-establish an international Sunni Islamic caliphate.

Far more nuanced, and informative than Scheuer’s superficial and time-worn sound bites is this observation by Prof. Peter Skerry (Boston College) in The Muslim-American Muddle, from the Fall, 2011 issue of National Affairs. Regarding Muslim leaders and groups in the United States with Islamic extremist roots, he observes that though they “do not represent all (or even most) Muslim Americans, they do dominate the relevant political space. Moreover, their Islamist ideology has had, and continues to have, a formative influence on how Muslims think of their place in America and of American’s relationship to the Islamic world. Elite opinion [including that portion Scheuer presumes to represent] also systematically denies or ignores the fact that Islam is a dynamic, even aggressively proselytizing religion.” Jihad-minded Muslims far from the United States do care how Americans, Muslim and non-Muslim, live and they seek to influence both communities.

At 8:07 AM in the segment, Scheuer repeats one of his favorite themes: “[T]he core of the problem is intervention in other people’s business. Part of that intervention, unfortunately, is necessary. We have to defend the Saudis. We have to defend them because we depend on oil. But our support for Israel [emphasis added], our intervention in south Sudan, for example, the relentless intervention of the United States on the issues that are not very important to it is the cause of what’s going on and it’s a bipartisan stimulus.”

Again, Scheuer ignores the fervor of jihadists to dominate the world as reflected in bin Laden’s stated desire to re-establish an international Sunni Islamic caliphate. He ignores also the long record of benefits to the United States from its close relationship with Israel, in intelligence, military technology (including development of aerial drones and anti-missile weapons), medical advances both military and civilian, and civilian technology breakthroughs (including key cell phone technologies), not to mention Israel’s success and example as the only Western-style democracy in the Middle East.

Scheuer Ignores History

At 8:14 AM in the segment, Scheuer said:

I would ask you why the United States hasn’t been under constant attack since 1776 by Muslims because we were and are a Christian dominated nation. If your argument is correct, we would have been attacked in 1824 and 1874 and 1924 and we weren’t. What we’re being attacked for is the post-1970, 1973 expansion of U.S. intervention and interference in the affairs of the Muslim world and most of all, our support for the Israelis [emphasis added] and our support for Arab tyranny.

Scheuer’s history and analysis fails elementary examination. The establishment of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps came in no small measure due to the depredations of the (Islamic) Barbary Pirates, who claimed a right as Muslim rulers to demand tribute and to seize and hold for ransom or as slaves seafaring Europeans and Americans in the Mediterranean Sea. America wasn’t under attack from Muslims during much of the 19th century because it had little presence or interests in the Middle East and Arab Muslims, dominated by the non-Arab but Muslim Ottoman Empire – fading after centuries of trying to control Christian Europe – did not have international reach. In a backhanded way, however, Scheuer does acknowledge reality: After the 1960s, as U.S. domestic petroleum production failed to keep up with demand and Middle Eastern output, particularly that of the Saudis, grew, America as the leader of the world’s oil-based economies had more and deeper interests in the region. And to intolerant Islamic extremists, from Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran to Osama bin Laden, America became “the great Satan,” while Israel was merely “the little Satan.”

Scheuer Again Mischaracterizes Arab-Israeli Conflict

At 8:20 AM in the segment, Scheuer said: “Americans are very welcome [in Arab/Islamic world] but your hosts are always very conscious of and asking, ‘Why are you giving F-16’s to the Israelis to kill Palestinians?’ [emphasis added]. So if America ever got to the point where Americans were hated as much as their government, then we’d have a genuinely large problem, sir.”

Again, as in the past, Scheuer erroneously describes the Arab-Israeli conflict and its affect on U.S. Middle Eastern relations. He never suggests that his hypothetical Americans ask their hosts “why do Palestinian leaders keep rejecting offers of a two-state solution in exchange for peace and continue terrorist attacks against Israelis?” or “If we are very welcome among you, why the persistent, large-scale anti-American insurgencies against forces that overthrew Arab and Islamic tyrants?” Instead, he simplistically sets up the conflict in a way to oppose Israel’s self defense and to alienate U.S. support of Israel.

Scheuer Treads Softly on Iran

At 8:29 AM in the segment, a caller asked Scheuer to share with the audience what he knows about Iran’s financial and technical support for terrorist organizations. Scheuer, sidestepping the request, characteristically targeted Israel: “The force of the Iranians is the lead force of their Revolutionary Guard. It is involved in nefarious activities and Iranian defense activities around the world. I think, you know, ultimately, we’ll be going to war with Iran if the Israelis want us to [emphasis added] and I guess that will take care of that problem.”

Here, Scheuer ignores the world’s apprehension about Iran, especially concerning an Iranian nuclear threat. The annihilationist intention of Iran’s leaders, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, toward Israel has been documented repeatedly. Ahmadinejad, a religious fanatic who apparently believes world conflict will hasten the return of Shi’ite Islam’s messianic “Twelfth Imam,” has frequently advocated the destruction of Israel. For example, on Oct. 26, 2005, in a speech to a “World Without Zionism” conference in Tehran, he vowed that “Israel must be wiped off the map.” The Iranian president called for Israel to be “uprooted” in a press conference with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on Feb. 25, 2010, one of a number of more recent such statements.

Iran’s hostile attitude toward the United States – since the country’s violent takeover by the Muslim fundamentalist regime in 1979 – has been demonstrated by its occupation of the American embassy in Tehran that same year and seizure of American diplomats, and its strong, continuing support of terrorist entities hostile to American interests such as Hamas and especially Hezbollah, whose 1983 truck bombing killed 241 American Marines at the multinational force barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. Iran was linked to the bombing of U.S. military housing in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, in 1996, in which several dozen Americans were murdered and many more wounded and more recently to arming anti-American insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran reportedly was behind the recent plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington, D.C. But Scheuer’s obsessive anti-Israel prejudice leads him immediately to another off-hand indictment of the Jewish state, in which Washington Journal host Scully indulges him.

C-SPAN Contacts

Complaints to C-SPAN can be communicated via 202-737-3220, [email protected], [email protected]. Additionally, Comcast, America’s leading cable television provider, is a major patron of C-SPAN and – president of Comcast Cable, Neil Smit, is one of C-SPAN’s five-member Board of Directors executive committee. Smit can be reached at 215-286-1700 or [email protected].

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