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The U.S. Government Did Not Revoke Khizr Khan’s ‘Travel Privileges’

By Peter Van Buren | We Meant Well | March 8, 2017

Here’s the anatomy of a fully made-up “news” story, abetted by a media that could care less to check any fact as long as the story feeds the preconceived notions of its audience.
You remember Khizr Khan (above), the guy who used his soldier son, killed in Iraq, as a prop at the Democratic National Convention to criticize Trump’s immigration policy and help elect Hillary Clinton? Well, like all good Americans, Khan exploited his exploitation into a minor media career. He was booked to talk in Canada by a speaker’s bureau called Ramsey Talks. A decent gig — tickets ran $89 a seat.

Then Trump supposedly struck. Ramsey Talks released a statement on its Facebook page saying:

Late Sunday evening Khizr Khan, an American citizen for over 30 years, was notified that his travel privileges are being reviewed. As a consequence, Mr. Khan will not be traveling to Toronto on March 7th to speak about tolerance, understanding, unity and the rule of law. Very regretfully, Ramsay Talks must cancel its luncheon with Mr. Khan. Guests will be given full refunds.

Mr. Khan offered his sincere apologies to all those who made plans to attend on March 7th. He said: “This turn of events is not just of deep concern to me but to all my fellow Americans who cherish our freedom to travel abroad. I have not been given any reason as to why. I am grateful for your support and look forward to visiting Toronto in the near future.

A major Canadian broadcast outfit (CTV) ran the story based solely, only, 100% on that single unverified and unsubstantiated Facebook posting, saying the Trump administration interfered with Khan’s “travel privileges” to prevent him from speaking, because of some sort of revenge for Khan’s statements this summer.

The Internet then, as expected, lost its shit.

Twitter boomed, and within an hour or two the story appeared in the New York Times, LA Times, Boston Herald, CNN, Maddow, and across the globe. Every one of those stories was based on nothing but that Facebook post. Reuters, the only outfit that apparently bothered to commit a minor act of journalism and reach out to Khan, was told by him no comment. All of the web’s many experts on stuff became experts on passport law, immigration, naturalization, and visa lore. Amazingly creative theories of “denaturalization of Muslims” were concocted out of thin air.

The only problem is that none of this is true. It in fact could not be true.

The U.S. has no law that deals with reviewing or rescinding “travel privileges.” No U.S. government agency calls people at home to tell them their travel privileges are under review. If, in very, very limited specific legal instances a court has ordered someone not to travel, their passport itself can be revoked in response to that court order. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection people, the State Department, and the government of Canada all eventually denied doing anything to Khan in any way or having anything to do with this story, so please stop calling them to ask.

Khan, or Ramsey Talks, seems to have made this all up.

Now, funny thing, this made-up story about Khan being denied travel hit just as Trump’s new Executive Order (“Muslin Ban 2.0”) was announced. Gee willikers Biff, you think this tale of a Muslim patriot denied travel was timed for that news cycle? Maybe so that when Khan’s speech is rescheduled tickets will be more expensive and sell out faster? Maybe so Khan and/or Ramsey Talks could get a zillion dollars of free publicity? Hah hah, coincidence, am  I right?

As I write this, not one of the media outlets that ran with the false story has published a correction, update or apology. The Washington Post has semi-backed away, but left itself plenty of wiggle room in not admitting it was wrong.

The problem is if you Google Khan’s name, the story is still flowing around the web, and is now being cited in unrelated stories as “proof” of whatever else the writer believes is fascism and the end of freedom in America.

BONUS: A source inside CBP tells me that what is most likely to have happened is that Khan’s membership in one of the expedited processing programs was set to expire. These are programs run by private companies that gather information and submit members’ names for background checks to allow them to use expedited processing lanes at the airport when re-entering the United States from a foreign country. Khan/Ramsey likely confused, by accident or on purpose, the expiration of that membership with some nefarious U.S. government action, and the media took it from there. Khan’s only privilege under fire was that of standing in a shorter line at the airport.

March 8, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | 2 Comments

What Was Missing From Coverage of Netanyahu’s Speech

By Jim Naureckas | FAIR | March 5, 2015

Reading the lead stories on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress about Iran in five prominent US papers–the New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today (all 3/3/15)–what was most striking was what was left out of these articles.

None of them mentioned, for example, that Israel possesses nuclear weapons. Surely this is relevant when a foreign leader says that it needs the United States’ help to stop a rival state from obtaining nuclear weapons: The omission of the obvious phrase “of its own” changes the story entirely.

Another thing largely left out of the story is the fact that Iran has consistently maintained that it has no interest in building a nuclear weapon. There was one direct statement of this in the five stories–the New York Times‘ reference to “Iran’s nuclear program, which [Iranian] officials have insisted is only for civilian uses.” The Washington Post alluded to the fact that Iran denies that it has a nuclear weapons program, referring to “a program the West has long suspected is aimed at building weapons,” Iran’s “stated nuclear energy goals” and “the suspect Iranian program.” Elsewhere the military nature of Iran’s nuclear research was taken for granted, as when the LA Times said that the issue under discussion was “how to deal with the threat of Iran’s nuclear program.”

Entirely absent from these articles was the fact that not only does Iran deny wanting to make a nuclear bomb, the intelligence agencies of the United States (New York Times, 2/24/12) and Israel (Guardian, 2/23/15) also doubt that Iran has an active nuclear weapons program. Surely this is relevant to a report on the Israeli prime minister engaging in a public debate with the US president on how best to stop this quite possibly nonexistent program.

Instead, these articles generally seemed content to cover the subject as a debate between Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama, perhaps with some congressmembers thrown in–as if these were the “both sides” that needed to be covered in order to give a complete picture of the controversy. When Iranian officials were quoted for a few lines in these pieces–which some neglected to do altogether–it seemed an afterthought, despite the fact that Netanyahu’s speech was mainly a long litany of allegations and threats against their country.

(Though I’m confining my analysis to what seemed to be the most prominent and comprehensive article on the speech on each paper’s website, it’s worth mentioning that the New York Times‘ website featured a piece by Iran’s ambassador to the UN, Gholamali Khoshroo, rebutting Netanyahu’s speech. Reading it one is struck by how different the news pieces would read if Iran’s perspective on Iran’s nuclear program were given equal weight with Israel’s and the US’s views.)

None of these news articles mentioned the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, signed by both the United States and Iran but not by Israel, which guarantees “the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.”

Benjamin Netanyahu addressing Congress (NYT)

The New York Times’ caption quoted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “This regime will always be an enemy of America.” That regime got 36 words of rebuttal in the nearly 1,500-word article.

One article–the New York Times’–had a reference to Netanyahu’s decades-long record of making false nuclear predictions about Israel’s enemies. And even that was framed in partisan terms: Netanyahu “did not succeed in mollifying all Democrats, who recalled a history of what they deemed doomsday messages by him.” A reporter, of course, could look up Netayahu’s previous projections to see if they came true or not–as Murtaza Hussain of the Intercept (3/2/15) did–but holding officials accountable for what they have said in the past is not something an “objective” journalist is likely to do.

Another striking omission from these articles, about a speech in which Netanyahu talked about Iran’s “aggression in the region and in the world,” were words like “Palestine,” “Palestinian,” “occupation” or “Gaza”; none of these  came up in any of the five articles. USA Today headlined its piece “Netanyahu: Stop Iran’s ‘March of Conquest'”–as though it were Iran, not Israel, that has conquered, occupied and in some cases annexed its neighbors’ territory.

March 6, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The lesson Hollywood cannot teach us

By Jonathon Cook | The Blog from Nazareth | September 26, 2014

Possibly the most insightful statement ever made by a journalist was from Gary Webb, who killed himself in 2004, years after the CIA and media rivals destroyed his career and credibility.

I was winning awards, getting raises, lecturing college classes, appearing on TV shows, and judging journalism contests. And then I wrote some stories that made me realize how sadly misplaced my bliss had been. The reason I’d enjoyed such smooth sailing for so long hadn’t been, as I’d assumed, because I was careful and diligent and good at my job. The truth was that, in all those years, I hadn’t written anything important enough to suppress.

Now Hollywood is making a film, called Kill the Messenger, about the San Jose Mercury News reporter. Webb briefly created a national scandal in 1996 by exposing how the CIA-backed Contras in Latin America had funded their guerrilla war through trafficking crack cocaine to African American communities in the US, with the knowledge of the CIA and other US agencies. The scandal quickly subsided because the CIA and other journalists – from the New York Times, the Washington Post and especially from the LA Times, who had been scooped on their own patch by Webb – waged a campaign of vilification. The toll eventually led Webb to take his own life.

It should be welcome news that his original revelations will be heard by a new generation, and that the US media’s hand-in-glove relationship to the US intelligence agencies will get national exposure.

A story like Webb’s ought to remind us that the CIA, the NSA and other US agencies are not there ultimately to “do good”, not even to serve us, the people, but to help prop up a world order that benefits a small, greedy global elite and to spread fear and misinformation among the rest of us to keep us divided and obedient. And the media’s role is to serve that same global elite, rarely to hold it to account. That was the mistake made by Webb and briefly by his news editors, who quickly abandoned Webb after more senior colleagues on bigger papers taught them what journalism is really about.

But I fear Hollywood’s interest should be read in different terms. It signifies a realisation by movie execs that Webb’s revelations are now old enough to constitute “history”, no more threatening to the contemporary reputations of the CIA or the US media than filming Mutiny on the Bounty was to the modern British navy.

Hollywood knows that where there’s a good story, there’s money to be made from us – audiences only too happy to be outraged at injustice but also only too wiling to believe such “ancient” injustices offer no lessons for the present. For that reason, it is doubtful Kill the Messenger’s viewers will emerge from the film more critical news consumers. They will still trust their daily paper and the TV news, and still assume that when all the president’s men tell them of events on distant shores – from Venezuela to Iran, Syria and Ukraine – they are being told the unvarnished truth.

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/09/25/managing-nightmare-cia-media-destruction-gary-webb/

September 27, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment