“We’re great at TV and yet we’re getting crushed in the PR front.” That was President Bush’s response to a Brian Williams question on Tuesday night’s NBC Nightly News about the current overseas perception of America. Bush is right that America is getting killed in the public relations war. But that’s partly because the President has an old friend, Karen Hughes, in charge of a “public diplomacy” effort at the State Department that has decided we should put U.S. officials on the hate-America Al-Jazeera network as punching bags.
U.S. policy should be to expose terror television and its collaborators. And those collaborators include all of the major American broadcasting and cable networks, which have content sharing agreements with Al-Jazeera and use its terrorist propaganda.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld understands how the enemy is manipulating the media. In his August 29 speech to the American Legion convention about winning the war on Islamic fascism, he took direct aim at some of the biggest names in American journalism. Rumsfeld said that “It seems that in some quarters there is more of a focus on dividing our country, than acting with unity against the gathering threats.” Among other things, he noted that:
* A database search of America’s leading newspapers turns up 10 times as many mentions of one of the soldiers at Abu Ghraib who were punished for misconduct, than mentions of Sergeant First Class Paul Ray Smith, the first recipient of the Medal of Honor in the Global War on Terror,
* A Newsweek editor disparagingly referred to the brave volunteers in our Armed Forces as a “mercenary army,”
* The former head of CNN accused the American military of deliberately targeting journalists and the former CNN Baghdad bureau chief admitted he concealed reports of Saddam Hussein’s crimes when he was in power so CNN could stay in Iraq.
Rumsfeld urged Legion members to help perform a watchdog role “in a war that is to a great extent fought in the media on a global stage?to not allow the lies and the myths be repeated without question or challenge…”
Referring to the war in Lebanon, Rumsfeld said the terrorists “design attacks and manipulate the media to try to demoralize public opinion. They doctor photographs of casualties, use civilians as human shields and then provoke an outcry when civilians are accidentally killed in their midst, which of course was their intent.”
The August 29 Washington Times column, “Qatar Leads the Way,” is an example of the propaganda appearing in a conservative paper that serves to confuse the American people about our friends and enemies in the Arab world. The column by S. Rob Sobhani ignored the role of this Arab regime in funding Al-Jazeera and praised the Emir’s wife, Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser al Missned, for promoting “education reform, religious tolerance and political pluralism.”
“As Washington struggles to contain the evil of global terrorism by promoting democracy in the Middle East, Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser al Missned’s road map of transforming the hearts and minds through education is an excellent starting point,” he said.
Despite the flowery rhetoric, Qatar is still an authoritarian regime that has led the anti-Israel caucus as a current member of the U.N. Security Council. In that position, Qatar was also the only government on the council to vote on July 31 against a resolution demanding that Iran suspend all nuclear enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development. The vote was 14 to 1 and the deadline for compliance is August 31.
Whatever the Emir’s wife may be doing with the millions of Arab petro dollars at her personal disposal, these efforts pale in comparison to the damage done by the Al-Jazeera channel, which is funded by the regime and has been “transforming hearts and minds” by creating more foot soldiers for the global jihad, and her government’s seeming inability to recognize the nuclear weapons threat posed by Iran.
AIM’s Terror Television DVD includes film footage of captured terrorists saying they came to Iraq because of the words and images on Al-Jazeera. This is no surprise in light of the evidence we present showing that Al-Jazeera has been infiltrated and used by the terrorists. Recent reports from inside Al-Jazeera suggest the situation is getting worse, not better, and that radical Jihadists associated with the Muslim Brotherhood may be taking key positions not only at Al-Jazeera but its English-language spin-off, Al-Jazeera International.
Sobhani, identified as president of Caspian Energy Consulting, has also served as an Adjunct Professor in the Government Department and the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and has been regarded in the past as holding a reasonable view about Middle Eastern affairs. But his column on Qatar read like a press release from the regime’s embassy in Washington, D.C.
In that context, subscribers to our twice-a-month newsletter, the AIM Report, have been sending postcards to Qatar’s Ambassador Nasser bin Hamad M. Al-Khalifa, care of the Embassy of Qatar, 2555 M Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20037-1305. They say:
“Dear Mr. Ambassador:
The web page of your embassy claims Al-Jazeera, the channel funded by your government, covers all viewpoints with ‘objectivity, integrity, and balance.’ In fact, your first managing director was exposed as an agent of the Saddam Hussein regime, one of your reporters was convicted of being an al-Qaeda agent, and another is in the Guantanamo prison on terror charges. Most recently, your employees were arrested in Israel for aiding the Hezbollah terrorist group. A true friend of the U.S. would not fund a ‘news’ operation that functions as a front of the terrorists. We ask that you immediately abandon plans to launch Al-Jazeera International in the U.S. We consider it a threat to our safety and security.”
We have asked Karen Hughes, who carries the title of Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs at the State Department, to contact the Emir of Qatar and ask him to pull the plug on this pro-terrorist, anti-American channel.
Such a move would greatly improve America’s image on the global stage and save many lives as well. It’s time for the President to tell his friend Karen Hughes to take the offensive in the global media war that he admits we’re losing. Otherwise, as his defense secretary said in his American Legion speech, “a new type of fascism” will win.