March 14, 2007

Gray Lady Uses Skirts To Hide CAIR

The New York Times runs a remarkable article today on the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), painting the group as a victim of bigotry and anti-Islamist fear. Neil MacFarquhar uses the latest controversy over Democratic Congressman Bill Pascrell's arrangement for the use of a House conference room by CAIR to cast criticism of the group as wholly unfounded:

With violence across the Middle East fixing Islam smack at the center of the American political debate, an organization partly financed by donors closely identified with wealthy Persian Gulf governments has emerged as the most vocal advocate for American Muslims — and an object of wide suspicion.

The group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, defines its mission as spreading the understanding of Islam and protecting civil liberties. Its officers appear frequently on television and are often quoted in newspapers, and its director has met with President Bush. Some 500,000 people receive the group’s daily e-mail newsletter.

Yet a debate rages behind the scenes in Washington about the group, commonly known as CAIR, its financing and its motives. A small band of critics have made a determined but unsuccessful effort to link it to Hamas and Hezbollah, which have been designated as terrorist organizations by the State Department, and have gone so far as calling the group an American front for the two. ...

Government officials in Washington said they were not aware of any criminal investigation of the group. More than one described the standards used by critics to link CAIR to terrorism as akin to McCarthyism, essentially guilt by association.

“Of all the groups, there is probably more suspicion about CAIR, but when you ask people for cold hard facts, you get blank stares,” said Michael Rolince, a retired F.B.I. official who directed counterterrorism in the Washington field office from 2002 to 2005.

Really? All they get are blank stares? Guilt by association? For an article that purports to inform its readers of the controversy surrounding CAIR, it does its best to avoid looking for any details of the criticism it has received -- which has been specific and part of the public record. Even while MacFarquhar notes Joe Kaufman, the Investigative Project, and the Middle East Forum, the only coverage he gives of their opposition to CAIR is a quote from Kaufman about CAIR being a front group.

Let's get specific and move past any blank stares, shall we? For instance, on Kaufman's site, they have screen captures from 9/17/01 of CAIR attempting to direct visitors to their web site to make donations for 9/11 relief to what they first identified as "NY/DC Emergency Relief Fund". The hyperlink took people to the Holy Land Foundation's website. The HLF funneled money to Hamas by the millions until the federal government shut it down in December 2001. Eight days later, they changed the hyperlink to identify the site as HLF and added one for the Global Relief Foundation -- which also got shut down in December 2001, this time for channeling money to al-Qaeda and Hamas.

CAIR exploited 9/11 to help fund the very group that perpetrated the attack. Is that specific enough for MacFarquhar? Why didn't he bother to note this very specific charge in his article, filled as it was with protestations of lack of specificity?

That's not all that makes critics suspicious of CAIR. Several of its officers have involvement in terror, including the founder of CAIR's parent group and the man who ran the Holy Land Foundation, Mousa Abu Mazook. The US deported Mazook in 1997 for his work with Hamas. Ghassan Elashi helped found the Texas chapter and served on its board until 2002 -- when the US deported him for selling forbidden computer technology to Libya and Syria. Rabih Haddad worked as a CAIR fundraiser until his deportation in 2003, as well as launching the Global Relief Fund that fed al-Qaeda and Hamas. Joe Kaufman included these specifics in a Front Page article three years ago -- again, something MacFarquhar apparently missed in his journalistic investigation.

In short, the Times has published an ass-kissing paean to the poor, misunderstood folks at CAIR and smeared its critics. It's practically a textbook example of hackery; spend all of an article rebroadcasting the complaints of one side and none of it covering the specifics of the other. MacFarquhar apparently couldn't disprove these specifics, and so pretended they didn't exist. The result should be an embarrassment for the New York Times, if they weren't already so incapable of shame.

UPDATE: Kaufman, not Katzman, as Noam Sayin pointed out to me. Sorry for the error. Also, I bumped this to the top. And Dafydd ab Hugh has even more thoughts and more specifics that elude MacFarquhar.


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