Friday, August 15, 2008

Emerson Lawyers Up, Part 1

Steven Emerson is a self-proclaimed “terror-expert.”

As far back as 1991, The New York Times Book Review characterized his research and conclusions as being "marred by factual errors...that betray an unfamiliarity with the Middle East and a pervasive anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian bias." (New York Times, 5/19/91)

After the 1995 terror attack in Oklahoma City led by Timothy McVeigh—not a Muslim--Emerson concluded, “It was Islamic extremists who mounted this attack.” (CNBC’s Riviera Live, 4/19/1995)

Yet another false assertion Emerson made in 1998 resulted in him being compelled to pay California journalist Reese Erlich $3,000 and issue a statement characterizing his own “statement” as “incorrect.”

With that history, it was no surprise that when Emerson mentioned me recently on Capitol Hill, he drew a conclusion that was way, way off mark.

Here is the letter a sent to him, which contains his quote about me:

Mr. Emerson:

I am writing to request that you correct a serious factual error in your July 31, 2008, testimony before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade.

While you are entitled to your opinion, characterizing my statement to Ambassador Hughes as “a rationalization of the violent attacks against the U.S.” is a creative leap rivaling the imagination of the greatest authors of fiction.

In reality, I concur fully with the August 2005 anti-terror fatwa endorsed by CAIR and many other Muslims groups, which reads in part: “Targeting civilians’ life and property through suicide bombings or any other method of attack is haram – or forbidden - and those who commit these barbaric acts are criminals, not ‘martyrs...’ Further, I concur with an October 4, 2003 CAIR news release that describes a suicide bombing in a Haifa restaurant that killed at least 19 people, including three children as “particularly loathsome.”

On pg. 25 of your testimony, you assert: “Saylor stated that Bin Laden ‘sought to exploit legitimate Muslim grievances.’ [Ambassador Karen] Hughes did not challenge Saylor’s rationalization of the violent attacks against the U.S. by referring to the motivations of blood thirsty terrorists as ‘legitimate Muslim grievances.’ The only way these Muslim grievances could be considered ‘legitimate’ would be if one equated the failure of the U.S. to become a Muslim country as ‘legitimate.’”

Callously inserting such patently false allegations into your testimony diminishes the integrity of the record of the U.S. Congress.

It is well known that Al-Qaeda and other anti-American forces exploit Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory to further their own twisted and un-Islamic agenda. As recently as June 3, 2008, Secretary of State Rice acknowledged the occupation when speaking to attendees of an American Israel Public Affairs Committee banquet, stating: “…the only responsible policy is to work with decent Palestinians who want and should be able to end the occupation that began in 1967….”

It is also well-established that many in the Muslim world perceive America’s role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as favoring Israel.

My assertion, which I believe to be fully in America’s national security interest, is that, if our nation takes a leading role in guiding the Israelis and Palestinians to finalizing a just and lasting peace, this will deprive Al-Qaeda and other anti-American forces of a tool they use to bring people into their murderous mindset: the allegation that Americans do not care about Palestinian suffering.

The last line of your above quoted testimony statement is obscure, but seems to question my allegiance to my nation and its Constitution.

I refer you to an op-ed I authored for July 4, 2005 in which I wrote:

“I and many other Americans are deeply disturbed by events in Iraq, by reports of torture and desecration of the Quran in Guantanamo Bay, by Patriot Act abuses, by the rising tide of anti-Muslim rhetoric in our society, and by domestic and international policies that seem to create more problems than they solve.

“But my love for America is not diminished because it is sometimes flawed. I love my nation because, despite its flaws, the majority of its people remain committed to tolerance and respect for one another, whatever their faith or viewpoint.

“After the 9/11 attacks, my neighbors could have turned their anger on me as a Muslim. They did not. They came to me and offered both support and their horror that someone would twist my faith in such an evil manner.

“But of greatest inspiration to me are the words written in 1998 by a Muslim 10th grader living in California. Following the attack on the USS Cole, he wrote a letter to Osama bin Laden. In that letter he wrote: ‘If you are keen to murder Americans, kill us before you kill non-Muslim Americans. Bomb our mosques and Islamic Centers. We are Americans as much as others.’”

Your prompt action in issuing a public retraction and apology on this issue is appreciated. I am BCC’ing appropriate congressional staff to ensure that they are aware of your error.


Corey P. Saylor

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