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FOX News “Expert” Alleges Radical Jihadists Have Infiltrated Pentagon, FBI And Other US Agencies

Reported by Ellen - January 14, 2008 -

FOX News continued to push its Islamofascist hysteria on Hannity & Colmes Friday night (1/11/08) when it presented discredited terrorism “expert” Steve Emerson to allege that radical Islamists have infiltrated the United States government at high enough levels so as to dictate the firing of an anti-Islam hardliner. Both Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes expressed doubt about the validity of this page straight from Joseph McCarthy’s playbook. But FOX News saw no need for a balancing expert and even showcased Emerson’s allegations by posting both the video and the transcript on its website. With video.

The discussion was based on the recent discharge of an Islam expert at the Pentagon, described by Hannity in the introduction as being known for his “hard stance against radical Islam.” Emerson contended that the man had been let go because Islamic radicals intent on wreaking jihad have infiltrated the government and conspired to have him removed.

As Colmes later revealed, the man in question, Stephen Coughlin, was an independent contractor whose contract had not been renewed. Nevertheless, Hannity’s scripted introduction said Coughlin had been fired. Hannity read, “Stephen Coughlin was fired after a confrontation with one of the Deputy Defense Secretary’s aides which ended with Coughlin being called quote, a Christian zealot with a pen. The word from the Pentagon is that Coughlin was fired for fiscal reasons but supporters of his think that there are ulterior motives behind his dismissal.”

As I have previously posted, Emerson has a history of peddling misinformation in his zeal to condemn Muslims. He was long ago discredited by FAIR. Yet, he is a favorite on “real journalism, fair and balanced” FOX News and a regular guest on Hannity & Colmes where he usually appears under the guise of a neutral expert and without an opposing guest.

“Walk us through what happened here,” Hannity said to Emerson.

“Stephen Coughlin has a background in law, international business and a specialty in academic study of Islamic militant doctrine of jihad,” Emerson said.

True enough, apparently, but, as former CIA agent Larry Johnson has noted, Coughlin’s credentials are less than impressive:

Does he speak Arabic? No. How about Urdu? Nope. He studied Islam where? No clue. But he graduated from an ABA sanctioned second-tier law school. A good school, but it is not known as a center of Islamic study. Unfortunately, Coughlin’s broad brush approach to Islam is more polemics than scholarship... Being the ‘Pentagon specialist on Islamic law and Islamist extremism’ may be akin to being the Oral Roberts University expert on fellatio and anal sex. A terrific title for one with no genuine expertise.

Emerson, who, it’s worth pointing out, is a self-declared expert with no apparent background in intelligence nor any formal education in Islam, went on to say that Coughlin had analyzed “hundreds of thousands of documents” released during the trial of the Muslim charity Holy Land Foundation (which resulted in a mistrial). According to Emerson, the documents “showed that there was a Muslim Brotherhood plan, a secret plan, designed to acquire influence in the U.S., undermine U.S. democracy, and to establish a caliphate… Mr. Coughlin wrote a memo spelling out the implications of these documents and the profound nature of what would happen if the United States government decided to start doing dialogue and embracing the very organizations that were intent on undermining US national security.”

Hannity gave no scrutiny to the theory but it was fairly clear he didn’t wholeheartedly endorse it. But waving his pen like a magic wand and his voice rising in dramatic outrage, Hannity did his best to help promote it. “Was there a point… that (Coughlin) was asked to soften his views on Islamic extremism?”

Emerson never said yes or no. He simply insisted that the stated reason for Coughlin’s dismissal was “a cover.” The real reason, according to Emerson, was that Coughlin had offended a top aide to the deputy secretary of defense. (That part seems entirely plausible, given that Coughlin espouses the view that all of Islam is conspiring to conquer the west while the aide he supposedly offended is a Muslim who was hired by the Deputy Secretary to help with Muslim outreach.) Emerson went on to accuse the Deputy Secretary's aide of being “an Islamist with a pro-Muslim Brotherhood bent who has brought in groups to the Pentagon who have been unindicted co-conspirators.”

Even Hannity seemed to find that hard to swallow. Counting off on his fingers, he orated, “Let me get the broader picture here. So you believe that this guy is a foremost expert on the issue of Islamic extremism in the United States and because he wouldn’t soften his views, change his opinions or his rhetoric, HE’S being fired because there are people that are sympathetic – you’re making the case – to radical Islam (Hannity’s voice suddenly rose questioningly) within our own government? Am I understanding that right?”

Yes, he was. Emerson replied that radical Islam “has emerged under the guise of different organizations that have penetrated the US government. People don’t want to believe it but it’s true.”

Colmes said a FOX News producer had confirmed that Coughlin was an independent contractor whose contract had not been renewed “for fiscal purposes. It had nothing to do with Islam.”

Emerson repeated his allegation that that was a cover story. “The reality is that his contract was not renewed because of the Islamic penetration of the Pentagon and that the sad reality that’s (sic) affected also (Department of Homeland Security), the FBI, the Department of…”

Colmes interrupted, so I never heard where else those commies, I mean radical Islamics have infiltrated. “Are you saying there’s wide-spread penetration, people who want jihad against the United States, working, literally working in the Pentagon?” Colmes asked.

“Yes,” Emerson said. “I am telling you – we know that, from the trials of former military members who were brought up on charges of carrying out jihad. So we know that they trained in the military, number one. Number two, the chaplains who serve, the Islamic chaplains who serve, were trained by a known terrorist.”

“And they want to destroy the United States, these people working internally as like a fifth column in there,” Colmes continued.

“You got it,” Emerson said.