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Fox Anchor Patti Ann Browne and John Bolton Take the Word of a 9/11 Sympathizer to Paint Alleged Ft. Hood Shooter Hasan as a Terrorist

Reported by Julie - December 25, 2009 -

Since when does Fox News take the word of a radical, 9/11 sympathizing Muslim for anything? Oh, I know when – when one radical Muslim can point a finger at another Muslim who Fox wants to paint as a terrorist. Fox anchor Patti Ann Browne and her guest, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. and neoconservative buddy of Dick Cheney, John Bolton, had no problem believing the words of Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical American cleric that the alleged Ft. Hood shooter, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, exchanged e-mails with in the year before the shootings. Al-Awlaki – who is believed to have been killed in a Yemeni air strike -- gave an interview to media outlet Al-Jazeera, and since it bolstered Fox’ position that alleged shooter Hasan committed an act of terrorism, instead of just a garden-variety crime, al-Awlaki’s words were gospel. With video.

Since the moment Major Nidal Malik Hasan allegedly opened fire at Ft. Hood, killing fellow soldiers, the right-wing media, as reported by Media Matters, worked overtime to label the shooting a “terrorist attack,” no doubt hoping to point to it as a 9/11-style terrorist attack on American soil during the Obama Administration – and use it as further evidence to bolster the right-wing’s position that President Obama is unable to keep the country safe, or he’s not anti-Muslim enough, or something terroristy. Fox, of course, was one of the leaders of the post-shooting “scary Muslim” propaganda, with one talking head handing the right-wing propaganda baton off to the other. Media Matters reported that on November 6, 2009, Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin talked about “Muslim soldiers with attitude” and warned of Muslim soldiers infiltrating our military; on November 6th Fox & Friends Gretchen Carlson blamed “political correctness” over the treatment of Muslims as a cause of the attack; on November 6th, Malkin cited political correctness as the “handmaiden of terror;” on November 6th, Fox & Friends Brian Kilmeade suggested special debriefings of Muslim soldiers, happily endorsing the type of racial profiling we saw after 9/11.

Neocon Bolton’s goal, it appeared, was to lend a hand on the “political correctness causes terrorist attacks” front and to discuss the al-Awlaki interview in terms of how the government, i.e., the Obama Administration, is too politically correct to be proper terrorist-haters. Browne, displaying classic Fox News journalistic creds, didn’t question the veracity of al-Awlaki statements in the interview, and was happy to take the word of al-Awlaki that Hasan is a dyed-in-the-wool terrorist plotting against the U.S., and specifically the military. Bolton charged that the U.S. military missed all the signs that Hasan was a terrorist, that the “political correctness” of the Obama Administration at minimum contributes, if not causes, U.S. terrorist activity, and that political correctness causes radical-Muslim-blindness. In fact, the government had Hasan in its sights prior to the attack. As reported by The New York Times in November 2009, “Counterterrorism and military officials said Monday night that the communications, first intercepted last December as part of an unrelated investigation, were consistent with a research project the psychiatrist was then conducting at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington on post-traumatic stress disorder. There was no indication that Major Hasan was planning an imminent attack at all, or that he was directed to do anything . . . .”

But real journalism – background on al-Awlaki, the actual relationship between al-Awlaki and Hasan, and quotes from the e-mails in question, for starters -- eluded Browne, who asked Bolton, “Do they [the quotes from the interview] suggest that this was an act of terror rather than a random criminal act?”

Bolton was all in on that theme, saying, “Absolutely . . . the evidence has been there all along . . . a lot of people in our government unfortunately have been in denial about this . . . you don’t need a large number of people necessarily to engage in a terrorist attack, a single individual can do it . . . what we saw here was terrorism and not mental illness at work.” It seemed inconceivable to Bolton that someone can suffer from a mental illness that can manifest as all sorts of things: Delusions, hatred of the government, hatred of Mom, hatred of religion, hatred of educational institutions. Despite the fact that Bolton’s an attorney, not a shrink, he seemed very comfortable assuming – I presume because Hasan is a Muslim – that his alleged violence against fellow soldiers could only be one thing: Terrorism. A psychiatrist himself, Hasan received counseling while an intern at Walter Reed and had various difficulties along the way, generally relating to interactions with his patients. Some who knew him said he never talked badly of the military or the U.S., was a committed soldier and showed no signs of being radical or extreme.

According to al-Awlaki, however, Hasan was asking about killing American soldiers and officers, and al-Awlaki even mocked U.S. officials for not picking up on the e-mail exchanges – which Browne reported that the government did, but stated that “an analyst decided they were not a threat,” clearly implying that, regardless of the content of the e-mails, they should have been seen as one.

Bolton said, “Let’s not forget in many respects even our military has its bureaucratic aspects, and when they get taken over by a form of political correctness and a fear to look at the evidence, you can miss signals as clearly as some that were obtained before the tragic events at Ft. Hood . . . being opposed to terrorism committed by Muslims is not the same thing as being opposed to Islam as such . . . it’s very dangerous when our political leaders believe that we can reduce the threat of terrorism by not talking about a global war on terror, not talking about acts like what happened at Ft. Hood as terror . . . it breaks down our ability to see these signals . . . the Ft. Hood tragedy was a classic example of missing evidence that was right in front of us because of these aspects of political correctness.”

The fact that the government didn’t go on a witch hunt against Hasan based on the e-mail exchanges had nothing to do with political correctness – it had to do with factual evidence. And, in fact, the evidence about al-Awlaki – and, as mentioned above, his relationship with Hasan -- wasn’t missing at all. As reported by Time, “Whatever his position in the Al Qaeda hierarchy, Awlaki had emerged as a major headache for U.S. officials. American-born and educated, he had contact with at least two 9/11 hijackers before fleeing the US in late 2001. In Yemen, he became something of an e-imam, using the internet to preach fiery anti-American and anti-West sermons. He called upon believers to rise up against the U.S. Because his sermons were published in English, he became popular with radical American Muslims. ‘He understood American society and was able to tailor his message to American audiences,’ says Hoffman [a Georgetown University terrorism expert] . . . Hasan, accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood, reached out to Awlaki a year ago. Although Awlaki denies encouraging Hasan to kill, the cleric praised the major on his website as a ‘hero’ after the shootings, and exhorted other Muslims in the U.S. military to follow his example.” Given his background, I think one can assume that al-Awlaki contacted the 9/11 hijackers as a sympathizer, and not to scold them for their behavior.

Browne played a quote from al-Awlaki that said, “A Muslim must not serve in the American army, except if he intends to go in the footsteps of our brother Nidal” – and ran with the right-wing “our military is infiltrated with radical Muslims” theme.

“Do you believe that there are other radical Islamists in our armed forces that pose a danger right now to fellow soldiers?” Browne asked Bolton.

Bolton was loathe to openly embrace the idea, but cagily said, “We have to be concerned about that . . . this is a clear situation where people of the Islamic faith who don’t share these radical ideas . . . should be standing up and saying it . . . we have to be clear that being concerned about terrorist acts . . . is not interference with religious freedom.”

Seems a little ironic that anybody on Fox is concerned with religious freedom. As Priscilla has so aptly pointed out in her many posts, on Fox one can be a Christian . . . or a conservative Christian . . . or a radical conservative Christian. Don the cross, talk the talk, and say Hail Mary’s after every broadcast for forgiveness. And yet, both Browne and Bolton eagerly took the word of a radical Muslim, a potential 9/11 co-conspirator, so they could paint Hasan as a terrorist for the sole purpose of furthering Fox’ anti-Obama agenda. It never occurred to them that al-Awlaki might be doing what Fox does, making shit up to further his radical agenda.