Accuracy in Media

Prior to the speech of the Israeli Prime Minister to Congress, CNN’s Fareed Zakaria sang the praises of a story from the pro-Edward Snowden publication, The Intercept, suggesting that Benjamin Netanyahu just can’t be trusted. The story claimed Netanyahu has been “crying wolf” about the Iranian nuclear weapons program by changing his estimate of how close the Iranians are to getting the bomb.

The implication is that we should ignore Netanyahu and sit back and wait on the Obama approach of negotiating a deal with Iran—however bad that deal is.

The Intercept is funded by the French-born Iranian-American Pierre Omidyar.

Yet, Netanyahu’s claims over the years have depended on a number of outside factors, including sanctions, Iranian support from Russia, and other efforts to thwart the nuclear program.

For example, if Snowden had not disclosed ways that the NSA monitors or counters our adversaries and enemies, we might have a better handle at this point in time as to just how close the regime is to developing a nuclear weapon.

Snowden has made it part of his espionage mission to expose how U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies, including the NSA, have cooperated to delay the Iranian program. For example, he has talked openly, in violation of his secrecy oath, about the U.S. and Israel developing a computer virus to cripple the Iranian program.

Here is an excerpt of an interview conducted with Snowden by the German magazine Der Spiegel:

Interviewer: Does the NSA partner with other nations, like Israel?

Snowden: Yes. All the time. The NSA has a massive body responsible for this: FAD, the Foreign Affairs Directorate.

Interviewer: Did the NSA help to create Stuxnet? (Stuxnet is the computer worm that was deployed against the Iranian nuclear program.)

Snowden: NSA and Israel co-wrote it.

The New York Times reported that the virus set back Iran’s nuclear weapons program by 18 months to two years. Delays like this obviously affect the timetable for Iran’s development of nuclear weapons.

The Washington Post reported in 2012 that “The United States and Israel jointly developed a sophisticated computer virus nicknamed Flame that collected intelligence in preparation for cyber-sabotage aimed at slowing Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon, according to Western officials with knowledge of the effort.”

Clearly, the idea of “crying wolf,” as the media call it, depends on the ability of the outside world, primarily the U.S. and Israel, to slow down the Iranian program, as well as to keep those efforts secret. Disclosures by defectors or spies like Snowden help make that difficult, if not impossible.

Indeed, last month The Intercept disclosed a document stolen by Snowden demonstrating Israeli cooperation with U.S. and British intelligence agencies to monitor Iranian leaders.

On the same day as Netanyahu’s speech, Snowden was back in the news again, apparently saying through his Russian lawyer that he wants to come back to the United States.

Former National Security Council staffer Oliver North had previously commented that Snowden is a “dead man walking,” and that it is likely he will be murdered. North said that it is likely the case that the Russians will kill Snowden once they are done with him, and then blame his death on the U.S.

Snowden’s reported decision to return follows the murder of a Russian activist opposed to Vladimir Putin. Perhaps this development led to Snowden’s desire to leave.

Our media had trumpeted the revelations of NSA defector Snowden and the Oscar given to his Hollywood collaborators for the movie about him, “Citizenfour.” All of a sudden, however, as Netanyahu was preparing to address Congress, our media were consumed with the notion that the Israeli Prime Minister would disclose classified information to make his case against the Obama negotiations with Iran.

As Netanyahu was walking through the Capitol, getting set to address Congress, you could hear CNN reporter Dana Bash shouting at the Israeli Prime Minister, asking if he was going to disclose classified information.

This was the bizarre claim being made by the Obama administration and its allies in the press. Netanyahu didn’t disclose anything of a classified nature and had no plans to do so.

Our media seem to be in favor of disclosing secret information when it harms America and its allies, such as Israel.

If the media are going to scrutinize Netanyahu’s claims, why not examine the media’s track record? As we have noted, CNN’s Zakaria has made a claim about alleged Iranian opposition to nuclear weapons that has been shown to be bogus. He has stated that the Iranian Ayatollah has issued a “fatwa,” or binding religious edict, against developing nuclear weapons.

For example, he stated in a 2009 column, “The country’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a fatwa in 2004 describing the use of nuclear weapons as immoral.”

This is false. Khamenei has issued various statements or messages about the dangers of nuclear and other weapons, but none of them is a fatwa with special religious significance.

It doesn’t really matter to Zakaria. He has written that, “…even if one day Tehran manages to build a few crude bombs, a policy of robust containment and deterrence is better to contemplate than a preemptive war.”

So we know where he stands.

Obama has also made the false claim that “Iran’s supreme leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons.”

One of Netanyahu’s most fantastic claims in his speech to Congress was that “Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei spews the oldest hatred, the oldest hatred of anti-Semitism with the newest technology.He tweets that Israel must be annihilated—he tweets. You know, in Iran, there isn’t exactly free Internet. But he tweets in English that Israel must be destroyed.”

Was he lying in this case?

According to CNN, his claim is true. CNN reported last year that Khamenei posted a series of tweets that included a document called “9 key questions about elimination of Israel.” He outlined the “proper way of eliminating Israel.”

Our media basically gave up trying to fact-check Netanyahu, instead relying on the notion that he is “crying wolf.”

The recent series of “crying wolf” claims about Netanyahu seems to have first surfaced on Press TV, an outlet for the Iranian government, in an interview with “author and radio host” Stephen Lendman. His website features such articles as, “The CIA-Controlled Neocon Washington Post,” and “NYT Editors Support Fascist Extremism.”

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  • John Cunningham

    Edward Snowden, has been reported in my very liberal Newspaper this morning that He is wanting to come back to America if, he felt he could get a fair trial. Makes me wonder f he is cow towing to the Obama Administration and attacking Bebe to garner love and an easy trial. I don’t believe anything that either comes out of this Administration or the media that is suckling off of Obama.

  • Heraclites the Obscure

    Great article that reveals the true nature of the US leadership and our media.

  • stevor

    Too bad the media shows he he loves to cry “anti-Semitism” but he’s NOT A SEMITE?

    90% of the jews of Israel are Ashkenazi jews and as Semitic as Chinese jews. Look up “ashkenaz” in Genesis 10:3 or wkipedia and see they descend from
    Japheth whereas TRUE SEMITES descend from Isaac or Ishmael.

    Check that FACT:

  • FedUpWithWelfareStates

    Fareed Zakaria, plagiarizer extraordinaire, has zero credibility…

  • JW

    Another Snowden story!

  • JW

    You didn’t read the article correctly, or the article is wrong. The Huffington Post and Associated Press are reporting that he said he wouldn’t get a fair trial.
    Besides, why would Obama pardon a man who has wrecked support among Obama’s liberal base with his revelations?

  • John Cunningham

    Interesting. I guess Liberals don’t feel they need to get the story straight and, I guess they don’t. They think we the people are stupid and don’t pay attention. My newspaper seemed to have said he would come back if he had a fair trial. Why I remember it so well was he knows he would get a fair trial he just isn’t going anywhere and he knows it.

  • stringman

    If it weren’t for bad news, there just wouldn’t be any. Lame Stream Media bashing Bibi. Boehner betraying us yet again. I really wish the Israelis would hurry up and hit the Iranian nuke sites. I could stand some good news for a change.