Saturday, September 15, 2012

freedom of speech, Muslim violence, and media malpractice

From the Washington Times:
Federal authorities have identified a Coptic Christian in Southern California who is on probation after his conviction for financial crimes as the key figure behind the anti-Muslim film that ignited mob violence against U.S. embassies across the Middle East, a U.S. law enforcement official told the Associated Press on Thursday.
This wasn't an FBI announcement, but a leak:
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation, said Nakoula was connected to the persona of Sam Bacile, a man who initially told the AP that he was the film’s writer and director.
In giving this man's name to the media, the FBI leaker had to know that he was endangering Nakoula's life and the lives of any family and friends Nakoula has back in Egypt. And since Nakoula is a Coptic Christian, which is a persecuted minority back in Egypt, he was also taking a very high risk of sparking more atrocities against random Copts in Egypt.

This leaker needs to be  exposed and fired. If he broke the law, he should be prosecuted. This behavior is just reprehensible.

But it's not just the leaker who is at fault here. Why was the FBI investigating at all? There is no hint that the makers of the film might have committed any federal crime or had any information about any federal crime. And anyone at a high-enough level to have started this investigation had to be able to see that consequences like this would result. Why isn't the media investigating how this FBI investigation even got started?

But the media is not interested. Moni Basu of CNN parrots this laughable explanation:
But federal officials consider that man to be Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who was convicted in 2009 of bank fraud.
The FBI contacted the filmmaker because of the potential for threats, a federal law enforcement official told CNN Thursday. But he is not under investigation.
Oh, come Moni. You are supposed to be a reporter, not a transcriber. Did it occur to you to ask how there would have been any potential for threats if nobody knew who the guy was? Did you ask about the FBI policy on hunting down people in potential danger from violent extremists in order to .... Yeah, in order to what? Why exactly did "the potential for threats" justify finding out who he is? Are they planning to offer the guy some special sort of protection? Because if they are only planning to warn the guy that Muslims might be out to kill him, well, I think he knew that, especially after THOSE IDIOT FBI AGENTS REVEALED HIS IDENTITY.

So, Moni, why didn't you ask who initiated the investigation? Was it a political appointee? I for one would like to find out if this investigation is part of an effort by the administration to intimidate anyone who might want to exercise their Constitutional rights in criticizing Islam. Isn't that the sort of thing that reporters are supposed to, er, report on?

Here's an idea, Moni, since you sometimes report on presidential politics, maybe ask the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the United States, Barak Obama what he knows about this investigation. Is he going to do anything to find and punish the leaker who has potentially greatly exacerbated the problem that prompted the investigation in the first place? Does he think the FBI ought to be using it's enormous tax-payer funded power to hound people for exercising their Constitutional rights?

Lots and lots of good, important questions for reporters to ask here. Isn't an abuse of power by the federal government a little more important than the criminal record of someone that no one ever heard about a week ago? Do you really think it is OK for the FBI to be endangering the lives of countless people to get back at someone who may have been peripherally involved in political problems for Obama?

Because you as a world-traveling reporter familiar with the Muslim world, realize that the film wasn't really what caused those riots and the murders of the diplomatic personnel. The film was just a pretext. I don't have to tell you that the riots happened on 9/11 for a reason, do I? I mean, why weren't all of these rioters upset about the film on 9/10 or 9/9?

When American drones are killing Muslim extremists all over that part of the world, and the president of the United States has bragged about picking the targets of assassination personally and has bragged repeatedly about the assassination of one very highly respected and influential Muslim extremist named Osama, do you you really think it was a bad, completely obscure indie film created by an anonymous nobody that sparked region-wide riots and assassinations? Really?

No, I know you don't believe that anymore than I do.

But your lack of curiosity about the FBI's actions and intentions is not even the worst part of your article. I am more concerned about the fact that you are actively hiding information from your readers. Because what else would I call it when the only information you give about the relationship between Islam and Coptic Christians in Egypt is this:
There has been a long history of animosity between Muslims and the minority Copts in Egypt.
"Animosity between"? So when a group of people who have all of the political power in a nation has a centuries-long history of humiliating, robbing, raping and murdering members of another group that has no political power, is that how you you describe it? There is "animosity between" the groups? Such a ridiculously inapt description of the situation can be seen as nothing but deliberately hiding information from the public.

Copts in Egypt for centuries, and even to this very day, suffer worse persecution than black people ever did in most areas of the post-Civil-War South. Is there animosity from Copts towards Muslims? No doubt there is, just as some post-Civil-War Southern blacks no doubt felt some animosity towards white people. But this is like reporting about a black man of that period who insulted whites and saying nothing about the race relations of the time except, "There has been a long history of animosity between whites and the minority blacks in the South" Seriously? That describes the situation adequately? Only someone who sympathized with white racists would pen such a description. Only someone who sympathized with violent Muslim fanatics would have penned the description that you penned about Copts in Egypt.

No comments: