Fox News correspondent Catherine Herridge was a no-show at a Benghazi discussion panel Thursday co-hosted by Breitbart News, despite having been listed as a participant.
Moderated by newly-minted Breitbart News columnist and Center for Security Policy founder Frank Gaffney, the panel was held just blocks from the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) outside Washington. The discussion was part of "The Uninvited," a national security forum co-hosted by Breitbart News featuring many speakers that "were not invited to CPAC."
Titled, "Benghazigate: The Ugly Truth and the Cover-Up," the panel included Retired Lt. General William G. "Jerry" Boykin, Chris Farrell of Judicial Watch, and Charles Woods, father of Tyrone Woods, a security officer who was killed during the Benghazi attacks.
Herridge did not respond to a request for comment on why she declined to join the panel, or why she had agreed to participate in the first place given the title of the discussion and the planned co-panelists. Boykin, for example, has a long history of making inflammatory comments about Islam; in 2003 President George W. Bush criticized him for saying Islamic extremists worship "an idol" and hate the U.S. "because we're a Christian nation."
Even with Herridge absent, she did receive support from the panel and Gaffney, who said her work on Benghazi made her a "truth-teller par excellence." He said she had informed the panel she could not make it due to unspecified work demands.
Gaffney and the other panelists offered few specifics on what Benghazi elements had been covered up. A bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee review released in January concluded there was no "cover-up" surrounding the attacks.
"This Benghazi thing is not just about four dead Americans, it's not just about a cover up, it's not just about the things that are circulating in the media, it is about our national security," Boykin claimed, calling on Boehner to hold a bipartisan investigation. "A major ethos in America has been violated."
Boykin and the others claimed that more support should have been given to U.S. forces in Benghazi, but again offered no details on how or why they were not.
"What I really care about is why there was no effort to go to these people and be there when they needed us," Boykin claimed. "That is egregious, that is unacceptable, that is not the America I served for and fought for."
Farrell of Judicial Watch went one step further, accusing Boehner of having "guilty knowledge" of the Benghazi attacks, but (of course) offering no specifics or proof.
"We can't let this one slide away as just another scandal," Farrell said. "We will not let it go. We will pursue this until we find answers."
This week, Media Matters accidently broke the news to The Washington Times that longtime conservative columnist Frank Gaffney no longer plans to write for the paper.
To rewind a bit: earlier this week, Breitbart News announced that Gaffney, the president of the Center for Security Policy (CSP) and a former Reagan official, would be bringing his column to the conservative website after having published "some 1,300 weekly columns over the past twenty-five years at the Washington Times."
According to Breitbart News, Gaffney's weekly column was "terminated within days of the release of a letter" he had signed alongside "influential national security practitioners." The letter in question was sent to the American Conservative Union (ACU) in support of Gaffney's charge that conservative activists Grover Norquist and Suhail Kahn are closely aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood.
In comments to Media Matters, Gaffney said that his departure resulted from the Times seeking to cut his column from weekly to monthly, which he hinted was linked to the release of the letter.
"One thing happened and then the next thing happened and I leave it to others to judge if it was a punitive action or whether it was just coincidental," Gaffney told Media Matters Thursday. "I am going to be writing for the Breitbart News Network. The arrangement that [was] announced for my writing [monthly] for The Washington Times is really not satisfactory to me."
He said that he would not be writing for the Times, stating, "I want to write a weekly column and I'm happy that whatever the reason for this decision I'm going to have a considerably larger audience at Breitbart than I had at The Washington Times. I've got an arrangement with Breitbart and I will be taking the fullest advantage of that, I wish the Times well."
When initially contacted by Media Matters about Gaffney on Wednesday, Times editorial page editor David Keene praised his "well-researched" work and said that while he was unaware Gaffney was planning to write for Breitbart, the paper would still welcome his writing as long as it was "exclusive." When Media Matters spoke with Keene again today after talking to Gaffney, the news that Gaffney planned to leave the paper apparently came as a surprise.
"We're sorry to lose him but wish him well," Keene told Media Matters. "I guess he's notifying us through you and we appreciate your willingness to serve as his intermediary on this."
The uproar began February 18 when Gaffney's CSP released the newest salvo in its years-long campaign to attack Grover Norquist and ACU board member Suhail Khan for their supposed association with the Muslim Brotherhood. The group sent a letter to ACU board member Cleta Mitchell signed by "influential national security practitioners" including former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey and former CIA Director James Woolsey.
The letter criticized the ACU's ties to Norquist and Khan and included a 45-page report detailing claims against them, which listed 87 alleged "facts" about Norquist and Khan it claimed were signs of their "assault on the right."
In addition to serving as the Times editorial page editor, David Keene also serves on the ACU board.
Fox invited Anti-Islam commentator Frank Gaffney to smear President Obama with "signaling surrender" to terrorists in his May 23 speech, ignoring Obama's direct references to the ongoing threat of terrorism and calls for increased vigilance in the face of "more localized threats."
On May 23, Obama appeared at the National Defense University to speak about ongoing counterterrorism efforts, the use of drone strikes overseas, and his plan to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Two days later, Fox hosted Center for Security Policy (CSP) founder Frank Gaffney, asking him why he felt "the president's speech was ill-advised and coming at an inappropriate time." In response, Gaffney falsely suggested that Obama had signaled a willingness to surrender, while calling for increased recognition of what he sees as a more expansive "global jihad" (emphasis added):
FOX ANCHOR ANNA KOOIMAN: Tell me a little about how do you feel like the president's speech was ill-advised and coming at an inappropriate time?
GAFFNEY: Well, you know, Memorial Day is an opportunity for us to reflect on one central reality throughout history. One side can't end a war except through either winning it or losing it, surrendering. And I'm afraid what the president laid out was pretty much a ruling out of winning and embrace, though he may not have said so much, of surrendering. And the trouble here is that we're not clear about who it is we're signaling a willingness to surrender too. We have been calling them terrorists for years. I don't think that's appropriate. We have been calling them violent extremists more recently under this administration. These are both euphemisms that really conceal what we're up against. Even Hillary Rodham Clinton on her way out the door said what we are facing now is global jihad and indeed that's what I think in each of those various scenes that you just showed we're dealing with here and certainly elsewhere is the folks who believe that it is their god's will they will impose their doctrine of Sharia on all of us. Muslims who don't want to be under that and us as well and they're willing to use violence and nonviolent means to do it.
GAFFNEY: Here is the rub: The folks who we're now signaling a willingness to accommodate are only emboldened by it, in fact their doctrine, this Sharia notion, as you can find in this document at securefreedom.org. It's a thin little précis of what the Muslim Brotherhood, not al Qaeda but other Islamists now under their banner are saying and it is that they will destroy us from within if possible by our own hands. We've got to be clear that's what we're up against.
Gaffney's analysis willfully misinterprets Obama's counterterrorism plans.
Obama's words stand in direct contrast to Gaffney's claim that he had signaled surrender. In his speech, Obama said the first goal of his counterterrorism strategy is to "finish the work of defeating al-Qaida and its associated forces" in Afghanistan and beyond.
Obama pointed out that "the threat has shifted and evolved from the one that came to our shores on 9/11" and said that the United States must "dismantle networks that pose a direct danger to us and make it less likely for new groups to gain a foothold, all the while maintaining the freedoms and ideals that we defend."
He acknowledged that extremists have gained "a foothold in countries like Libya and Syria," but described a strategy to deal with the threat:
In some cases, we continue to confront state-sponsored networks like Hezbollah that engage in acts of terror to achieve political goals. Other of these groups are simply collections of local militias or extremists interested in seizing territory. And while we are vigilant for signs that these groups may pose a transnational threat, most are focused on operating in the countries and regions where they are based. And that means we'll face more localized threats like what we saw in Benghazi, or the BP oil facility in Algeria, in which local operatives -- perhaps in loose affiliation with regional networks -- launch periodic attacks against Western diplomats, companies and other soft targets, or resort to kidnapping and other criminal enterprises to fund their operations.
Obama also noted the threat of homegrown terrorism, which he said "closely resembles the types of attacks we faced before 9/11." He emphasized the need to "take these threats seriously and do all that we can to confront them."
Fox's decision to turn to Gaffney for analysis of anti-terrorism efforts is ill-advised, considering his well-documented bias against Islam and propensity for distorting the issue.
The Southern Law Poverty Center has dubbed Gaffney "the anti-Muslim movement's most paranoid propagandist," and pointed out that he has "been banned from the Conservative Political Action Conference" because of past bigoted statements.
Media Matters has previously noted many of Gaffney's extreme comments, including his suggestion that the left and Islamists are both "advancing the takedown of America" and that for Muslims, "the preferred way of achieving [Shariah Law] is ... through violence."
Fox News hosted a series of discredited anti-Islam activists to smear Muslims during Fox's coverage of the April 15 bombings at the Boston Marathon.
Washington Times columnist Frank Gaffney joined the right-wing media's crusade against Labor secretary nominee Thomas Perez by attempting to manufacture outrage over Perez hugging a respected Muslim leader in 2011.
In his March 26 Washington Times column, Gaffney said President Obama's nomination of Perez for Labor secretary "may be his most outrageous yet." In addition to rehashing right-wing smears, Gaffney attacked Perez for "his enthusiastic embrace of Islamists and their causes." As evidence, Gaffney highlighted a 2011 event in which Perez "leapt onto a stage at George Washington University in order to hug the leader of the largest Muslim Brotherhood front group in the United States: Mohamed Magid, president of the Islamic Society of North America."
But Magid is a respected Muslim leader who has worked to combat terrorism and curb extremism, and he has spoken out against domestic violence in the Muslim community.
In addition to serving as the president of ISNA and the executive director of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, Magid served on the Department of Justice's Countering Violent Extremism Working Group, a task force formed in 2010 by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to "work with state and local law enforcement as well as relevant community groups to develop and provide to me recommendations regarding how the Department can better support community-based efforts to combat violent extremism domestically -- focusing in particular on the issues of training, information sharing, and the adoption of community-oriented law enforcement approaches to this issue."
In January 2011, Magid co-hosted a forum on "Curbing Violent Extremism" in which panelists discussed "ways in which the American Muslim community can curb and prevent violent extremist tendancies [sic] from within its ranks." A 2005 Time magazine profile of Magid pointed out that he "is fighting his own war against radicals trying to hijack his religion. For Magid that has meant not only condemning terrorism but also working closely with the FBI in battling it. He regularly opens doors for agents trying to cultivate contacts in his Muslim community, and he alerts the bureau when suspicious persons approach his congregation."
Magid has also been an outspoken critic of domestic violence within the Muslim community. In October 2011, Magid worked with the Rhode Island Council of Muslim Advancement to sponsor a training for imams and chaplains "to discuss, in a private and confidential setting, effective strategies to respond to domestic violence situations within the Muslim community, and learn best practices to foster prevention." Magid has also endorsed Project Sakinah, an group that attempts to "achieve lasting change in the attitudes and behaviors of Muslims around the issue of violence within families." He also contributed an essay to the book Change From Within: Diverse Perspectives on Domestic Violence in Muslim Communities.
Conservative media are defending charges leveled by Representative Michele Bachmann that the Muslim Brotherhood is attempting to infiltrate the U.S. government. However, Bachmann's attacks, including one directed at Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, have received significant bipartisan condemnation.
In his January 23 Washington Times column, Frank Gaffney wrote that for Muslims, "the preferred way of achieving [Shariah law] is, as Muhammad taught, through violence." Gaffney also called the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) a "Muslim Brotherhood front group" that is "squealing like, well, stuck haram (or impure) pigs." From the Times:
Muslim Brotherhood front groups such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) are squealing like, well, stuck haram (or impure) pigs. After all, they have been working overtime to try to obscure the true nature of Shariah and to prevent the enactment of legislation that would interfere with the considerable progress being made below the radar in states across the country: the insinuation of Shariah into the American judiciary.
Resorting to their standard technique of ad hominem attacks, CAIR and its friends have derided Mr. Gingrich's stance as "racist," "bigoted" and "Islamophobic." Such comments evidently were not persuasive to South Carolina voters - and they should be equally dismissed by everybody else.
The simple fact of the matter is that Shariah defines the fault line between people who are Muslims but can love our country, respect and enjoy its freedoms and support our form of government and Constitution, and those who are obliged by doctrine to oppose all those things. Worse, adherents to Shariah must - in accordance with that doctrine - seek, as Mr. Gingrich says, "to impose it on the rest of us."
For the latter Muslims, the preferred way of achieving such submission is, as Muhammad taught, through violence. Where that would be impractical and/or counterproductive for the moment, however, their doctrine encourages the use of stealthy techniques to advance the same supremacist goal.
Since President Obama took office, right-wing media have argued that his foreign policy is making the United States less safe and is bent on attacking Israel. Those attacks have continued in 2011, even as the Obama administration has overseen the death of Al Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Anwar Al-Awlaki, repeatedly supported Israel, and been praised by Israeli leaders.
In his September 12 Washington Times column, Frank Gaffney suggested that President Obama's national security policies "will cost us greatly in lives and treasure." From the Times:
The evisceration of our military and its supporting industrial base - a likely hallmark of the Obama policy legacy - will be a far more important determinant of our future security and that of the free world more generally than all of Mr. Obama's putative decisiveness in the fight against al Qaeda. Today's spin will be the subject of tomorrow's ridicule as we inevitably reap the whirlwind of wars that could have been prevented.
The key question is: Will Republicans be able to show that they opposed the abandonment of the time-tested principle that Ronald Reagan called "peace through strength"? Or will they prove to the American people that they were "irrelevant" - or worse, complicit - in conduct by Mr. Obama that will cost us greatly in lives and treasure?
The Washington Times published an illustration of President Obama's face on late singer Amy Winehouse's body to illustrate a column by Jeffrey Kuhner that claimed Obama is "injecting the heroin of class warfare and socialism into our national bloodstream," which will lead to "insanity and death." This is just the latest outrageous Photoshopped image or illustration published by the Times to attack Obama.
Before the Senate unanimously confirmed Leon Panetta to head the Department of Defense last month, there was a notable smear simmering in the right-wing fever swamp: Leon Panetta may be a communist.
The story began with a column by Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media, which hinged on "a close and personal relationship" Panetta supposedly had "with a member of the Communist Party by the name of Hugh DeLacy."
Responding to the Obama administration's recent decision to resume limited contacts with Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, Frank Gaffney wrote in a July 5 Washington Times column that "[t]he outlines of an Obama Doctrine have been apparent for some time. It can be summarized in nine damning words: Embolden our enemies. Undermine our friends. Diminish our country."
Gaffney further wrote: "These days, it is hard to avoid proof that these outcomes are not inadvertent or attributable to sheer and sustained incompetence. Rather, they are a product of deliberate decisions approved, we must assume, by the president himself."
From Gaffney's column:
The outlines of an Obama Doctrine have been apparent for some time. It can be summarized in nine damning words: Embolden our enemies. Undermine our friends. Diminish our country. These days, it is hard to avoid proof that these outcomes are not inadvertent or attributable to sheer and sustained incompetence. Rather, they are a product of deliberate decisions approved, we must assume, by the president himself.
Consider last week's announcement by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that the United States was going to "engage" the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. In one fell swoop, Team Obama hit its doctrinal trifecta.
In a June 13 Washington Times column, Frank Gaffney wrote that there is "much evidence that the military is not ready for the adverse effects that would flow from" repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and that "[o]f principal concern is the intractable nature of many of the problems with accommodating not just homosexuals, but the radical Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) agenda in an institution like the U.S. military, in which mutual trust, unit cohesion and the effects of protracted forced intimacy may determine esprit de corps and combat readiness."
From Gaffney's column:
The issue has arisen thanks to a shameful abuse of power perpetrated in the lame-duck session late last year. Mr. Obama rammed through a Congress repudiated at the polls legislation repealing the law that had since 1993 prohibited avowed homosexuals from serving in the armed services. Mr. Gates and the also-soon-to-depart chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen, played decisive roles in allaying concerns about and otherwise justifying this step. The repeal was conditioned, however, on the defense secretary, the chairman and the president all certifying to Congress that the military was prepared for this change.
An honest certification to that effect would not be possible at this time in light of much evidence that the military is not ready for the adverse effects that would flow from such a repeal. Of principal concern is the intractable nature of many of the problems with accommodating not just homosexuals, but the radical Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) agenda in an institution like the U.S. military, in which mutual trust, unit cohesion and the effects of protracted forced intimacy may determine esprit de corps and combat readiness.
If Mr. Gates is as serious as he seems to be regarding the future of the U.S. military, he has one last opportunity to prove it by allowing his successor to make the decision about whether to certify that avowed homosexuals can be imposed on the military without breaking it, a decision that will hopefully be approached only after a fresh, independent and rigorous appraisal of the true costs and real risks such a social experiment entail for America's armed forces.
Right-wing media have claimed that President Obama attacked Israel in his recent restatement of U.S. policy that a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 borders with agreed upon swaps. These criticisms follow a long series of falsehoods, distortions, and smears advanced by the right-wing media to claim that Obama and his administration are anti-Israel or even anti-Semitic.
In a May 23 Washington Times column, Frank Gaffney Jr. wrote that President Obama "has helped catalyze the next Middle East war by declaring that Israel must return to the 1967 borders." Gaffney further stated: "It is in America's vital interests to deter more wars in the Middle East, not invite them. If Mr. Obama persists in the latter, his already checkered record as commander in chief may make him best remembered as the man who elected to precipitate World War III." However, as Media Matters has noted, Obama's comments were in line with those of President George W. Bush, who also supported a two-state plan based on pre-1967 borders.
From Gaffney's column:
Beyond his embrace of the ascendant Muslim Brotherhood, Mr. Obama has helped catalyze the next Middle East war by declaring that Israel must return to the 1967 borders, whose indefensibility induced the Arab nations to precipitate the Six-Day War of that year. However much the president may deny it and point to others as supporting a "two-state solution" based on such borders, the Jewish state cannot survive without the high ground, strategic depth and aquifers of the Golan Heights and West Bank. Period.
It is in America's vital interests to deter more wars in the Middle East, not invite them. If Mr. Obama persists in the latter, his already checkered record as commander in chief may make him best remembered as the man who elected to precipitate World War III.