Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Situation normal, all Foxed up

Just another day of keeping the state of public fear at a low boil for the gang at the Murdoch products. This frontpage gem is from the New York Post, more or less the closest thing we have to a print stand-in for Fox News.

Here's the Post's inside play, as reefered above (there's a more rational account over at the Free Press, for which it's a local story).


November 14, 2007 -- In an embarrassing security breach, an illegal Lebanese immigrant arranged a bogus marriage to earn US citizenship and jobs with the FBI and CIA - then sneaked into a top-secret government computer to see what investigators uncovered about Hezbollah and her family's ties to terror.

To spare you the trouble, there's no further mention of the "Jihad Jane" bit anywhere in the tale. Given that a quick and nonrandom Googling suggests that "Jihad Jane" has gained currency only among some of the more foamy-mouthed commentators, and only in reference to Jane Fonda, one gets the idea it was simply made up on the spot to keep the proles in jitters.

That said, one supposes that extremism in the defense of America's Children from the Terrorism Menace is no vice. So it's probably worth asking exactly what the Hez Hag* (for such is the genteel terminology of the Post cutline) was up to.

Nada Nadim Prouty's stunning betrayal became public when the 37-year-old former waitress pleaded guilty to conspiracy and other charges yesterday, a week after quitting her mid-level post at the CIA.

Hmm, betrayal. Isn't that the sort of thing we send people to the chair for? Who exactly was it she betrayed? Certainly not the poor downriver schlep she married; from the press accounts, that sounds like a business deal carried out to the satisfaction of both parties. Could it be related to the "conspiracy" she pleaded to? Gosh, according to the Freep, that was "conspiring to fraudulently obtain U.S. citizenship" (yeah, but it's so boring when you put all those extra words in). And of course, we're still waiting for an indication that she "penetrated" the FBI, or that she "stole Fed secrets on terror" (which is lots more specific than "took home classified FBI information"; it must be one laff riot after another to be a libel lawyer on Mr. Murdoch's payroll).
After the marriage of convenience, by both accounts, she managed to get a job at the FBI, background checks and all, and later at the CIA, which seemed to think the FBI had done its job. And she went nosing around the databases to see whether she or the relatives were being investigated.

Not much detail on what cause she might have had, but there's plenty of space for some guilt by association: The Hez Hag's "sister and fugitive brother-in-law had ties to what the feds called 'the highest levels' of the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group." (Hezbollah has its own particular set of interests, but why pass up a chance to sideswipe the Iran fright button?) They "were apparently highly respected by Hezbollah, which, their indictment noted, had murdered more Americans than any other foreign terrorist organization' before 9/11.' ... In August 2002, Chahine and Elfat attended a fund-raising event in Lebanon in which the chief speakers were Chahine, representing 'a worldwide group of fund-raisers,' and Hezbollah's chief spiritual leader, Sheik Muhammad Hussein Fadwallah, according to the indictment." (The Freep writer managed to spell Fadlallah's family name correctly, suggesting that unlike the Post scribe, he had actually heard of Hezbollah before the indictment told him what to think.)

The Post's penultimate graf grudgingly admits: "Investigators cautioned yesterday that Prouty was not assigned to work on FBI investigations involving Hezbollah and there is no evidence Prouty served Hezbollah as a spy" (for some reason, the Freep thought that was worth getting on the front). So at the end of the day, is there any reason for the Hez Hag and Jihad Jane hysteria, or is that just the sort of routine lying and race-baiting that goes on with the Fair-n-Balanced crowd?

There's a tradition of that sort of thing in some sectors of journalism, unfortunately. You'd kind of think it's one journalists today would prefer not to be associated with.

* Not to get all technical, but the noun in this compound is "Hezb." Not "Hez." Which you could, you know, look up.


Blogger Denise said...

Wait. . .I'm still stuck on the deck hed. "Leb" stands for "Lebanese" now?
I remember growing up reading the Daily News, and "Hizzoner" was shorthand for mayor (which is silly, of course, because it's got a higher count and thus is not shorthand) but that takes the cake.

11:10 AM, November 15, 2007  

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