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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 1/13/15

The Sorry Record of a Muslim-Basher

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Emerson purported to "fact check" Rauf's statement on the death toll from the Iraq sanctions by claiming "a report by the British government said at most only 50,000 deaths could be attributed to the sanctions, which were brought on by the actions by former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein."

What Emerson's "fact check" ignored, however, was that Rauf was accurately recounting Leslie Stahl's questioning of Albright on CBS "60 Minutes" in 1996. Emerson also left out the fact that United Nations studies did conclude that those U.S.-led sanctions caused the deaths of more than 500,000 Iraqi children under the age of five.

In the 1996 interview, Stahl told Albright regarding the sanctions, "We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?"

Albright responded, "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price -- we think the price is worth it."

Emerson didn't identify the specific British report that contains the lower figure, although even that number -- "only 50,000" -- represented a stunning death toll and doesn't contradict Rauf's chief point, that U.S.-British actions have killed many innocent Muslims over the years.

Also, by 2005, when Rauf made his remarks in Australia, the United States and Great Britain had invaded and occupied Iraq, with a death toll spiraling from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands with some estimates of war-related deaths in Iraq exceeding one million.

Far from "defending bin Laden violence," Rauf's comments simply reflected the truth about the indiscriminate killing inflicted on the Muslim world by U.S.-British military might over the years. Indeed, British imperialism in the region dates back several centuries, a point that Emerson also ignored. Other of Emerson's criticisms of Rauf were equally tendentious. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Islam Basher Claims to Unmask Cleric."]

In 2011, amid the furor over Rauf's project, Emerson took credit for helping to organize controversial hearings by Rep. Peter King, R-New York, on the alleged radicalization of domestic Muslims. Emerson boasted about his role but also lashed out at King for not including him on the witness list for his hearings. In a particularly bizarre letter to King, Emerson vowed to withhold further assistance as retaliation for the snub.

"I was even going to bring in a special guest today and a VERY informed and connected source, who could have been very useful, possibly even critical to your hearing, but he too will not attend unless I do," Emerson wrote. "You have caved in to the demands of radical Islamists in removing me as a witness."

In another weird twist, Emerson somehow envisioned himself as the victim of McCarthyism because he wasn't being allowed to go before the House Homeland Security Committee and accuse large segments of the American-Muslim community of being un-American. [Politico, Jan. 19, 2011]

Then, in summer of 2011, the Center for American Progress sponsored a report on Emerson and other Muslim-bashers. The context was the murderous rampage in Norway by Christian terrorist Anders Breivik, who cited their writings in a manifesto justifying his killing of 76 people on July 22, 2011, as the beginning of a war against "multiculturalists" who preach tolerance of Muslims.

CAP's report, "Fear, Inc.," noted a number of Emerson's falsehoods and exaggerations about American Muslims and examined the convoluted financing of Emerson's Investigative Project on Terrorism, which has drawn substantial support from right-wing foundations and funders whose political interests have benefited from a surging right-wing campaign against Muslims.

"Emerson's nonprofit organization IPT received a total of $400,000 from Donors Capital Fund in 2007 and 2008, as well as $100,000 from the Becker Foundation, and $250,000 from Daniel Pipes' Middle East Forum, according to our research," the report said.

"Emerson's nonprofit organization, in turn, helps fund his for-profit company, SAE Productions. IPT paid SAE Productions $3.33 million to enable the company to 'study alleged ties between American Muslims and overseas terrorism.' Emerson is SAE's sole employee. ... This kind of action enrages Ken Berger, president of Charity Navigator, a nonprofit watchdog group. He argued that 'basically, you have a nonprofit acting as a front organization, and all that money going to a for-profit.'"

Emerson's combination of ideological journalism and loose handling of the facts also should raise questions about his previous work as he sought to discredit serious investigations into the Republican-Israeli role in the Iran-Contra scandal, dating back to its apparent origins in the alleged sabotage of President Carter's 1980 hostage negotiations. [For more on that, see Consortiumnews.com's "Unmasking an October Surprise 'Debunker'."]

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Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at
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