So what do you need to be a successful terror expert? Well act as a McCarthyite stooge in helping railroad prosecutions and then get your ‘documentary’ used as evidence. No really, if your idiot views coincide with those of the establishment you get to be really quite successful, now why didn’t I think of that? Oh yeah, truth and personal integrity, I knew there was something…
(Reuters) – Prosecutors in the trial of Osama bin Laden’s driver unveiled a graphic video on Monday of the September 11 attacks and other al Qaeda operations that is likely to play a repeated role in pending war crimes cases.
The video is entitled “The Al Qaida Plan,” an echo of “The Nazi Plan” made by Oscar-winning director George Stevens as evidence in the Nuremberg war crimes trials of German leaders after World War II.
“The Al Qaida Plan” was made for $20,000 (10,000 pounds) by terrorism consultant Evan Kohlmannal Qaeda from its formation in 1988 through the September 11 attacks. for the Office of Military Commissions, which is conducting the trials of terrorism suspects at Guantanamo.
So ladies and gentlemen courtesy of Spinwatch, meet Evan Kohlmann, pundit, movie director and ‘expert’ witness extraordinaire-
When terrorism expert Evan Kohlmann first appeared on the scene he was dubbed the ‘the Doogie Howser of terrorism’. For those who don’t know, Doogie Howser was an American sitcom aired in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. The main character was a childhood prodigy who became a doctor at the tender age of 14. The label was a light-hearted quip at Kohlmann’s relative youth. It also implied that he was some sort of genius, which he is not. Unlike the fictional Doogie Howser, Kohlmann has no post-graduate research qualifications and has displayed remarkable ignorance when challenged in court. Not that that has held him back. He is one of the most prominent media commentators on terrorism in the US, and is a prosecutors’ favourite in terrorism trials there and in Britain. Perhaps if your chosen field of expertise is the ‘war on terror’ then ignorance is a virtue.
Evan Kohlmann first became involved in studying terrorism when he was 18 and in his first year at Washington’s Georgetown University. In February 1998 he began an internship at the Investigative Project, a Washington Think-Tank set up by Steve Emerson – a notoriously Islamophobic journalist turned terrorism expert. There Kohlmann says he was responsible for tracking North African militant groups, and monitoring Islamist websites. The latter was to become his speciality. Still an undergraduate, he began writing articles on terrorism for The Journal of Counterterrorism & Security. One of his first articles was co-authored with collaborator and fellow ‘cyber-terrorism expert’ Rita Katz. Entitled ‘Pandering to Terrorists’, the article argued that to consider Hezbollah a resistance group was a dangerous misconception. Rather it was a terrorist organisation dedicated to the destruction of Israel, and of the Western world more generally. His co-author, an Israeli Zionist, would later set up her own think-tank SITE with Kohlmann’s old school friend Josh Devon.
Kohlmann wrote several such articles but then for a time left terrorism research behind him, hoping to “be a conventional lawyer of some sort”1. After graduating from Georgetown he started a three year law course. His plans changed on September 11th. He recalls racing out of class and calling Rita Katz. “Time to get to work”, she told him. And they did. Kohlmann returned to his website monitoring and began writing a book on Al-Qaida’s jihad in Europe. He wrote several more articles on terrorism which were published by the conservative National Review. Although still a student, Kohlmann says he was “basically the deputy head” of The Investigative Project at this time2. His research has mostly involved monitoring and recording postings on Islamist websites which he says can yield important intelligence on the plans and activities of terrorists. He considers himself an academic and a “micro-historian”3.
In 2004 after graduating from law school, Kohlmann went into business for himself. He set up his own website Globalterroralert.com and was recruited as an on-air terrorism analyst for MSNBC. With no expertise beyond undergraduate qualifications and an internship at a dubious think-tank, Kohlmann became a consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, the FBI, the Crown Prosecution Service and Scotland Yard’s SO-15 Counter Terrorism Command4. Meanwhile he ran his website from his bedroom in Manhattan, sitting amongst photos of Al-Qaeda leaders wearing what a journalist said “looks suspiciously like last night’s pyjamas”5.
Kohlmann now works at the NEFA foundation, a terrorism research institute set up by the Washington Group – a US lobbying firm and a subsidiary of the giant PR corporation Ketchum. He also works at Counterterrorism Blog, which hosts numerous rightwing terrorism experts and was established up by a former Reagan advisor Andrew Cochran, who worked as a lobbyist for Steven Emerson and The Investigative Project.
Kohlmann has now appeared at over a dozen terror trials. Most of the cases are based on charges of conspiracy or supporting a terrorist organisation, where the individual’s guilt is established by association. In some cases there is no evidence of links to terrorism at all and the defendants have been charged purely in relation to materials in their position such as literature on weapons or explosives, or merely material downloaded from the internet. In Britain for example, Kohlmann testified against Younes Tsouli, aka Irhabi 007, who the Judge said “came no closer to a bomb or a firearm than a computer keyboard”, before sentencing him to 24 years in prison6. He also testified against Samina Malik who was convicted under the Terrorism Act 2000 for books in her possession and poems she had written “glorifying terrorism”.
What in particular Kohlmann tends to “bring to life” is connections linking defendants to Al-Qaeda or Osama Bin Laden. This, in the political climate of the United States greatly increases the prosecution’s chances of a conviction. As one US defence attorney explains: “If a jury in the US finds any connection between your client and Osama bin Laden, you’re going to get convicted.”8
So McCarthy-ism is thriving, hero as he still is to the American right and apparently our own Crown Prosecution Service, to add to the farce the defence are not allowed to mention the CIA (& others), y’know, who tortured Salim Ahmed Hamdan-
The name of the Central Intelligence Agency cannot be spoken in the war crimes trial here. No records of the agency’s interrogations of Salim Ahmed Hamdan can be subpoenaed, and no agent can be called to testify about what he or she learned from Osama bin Laden’s former driver.
When defense attorney Harry H. Schneider Jr. attempted to demonstrate how many interrogations Hamdan had undergone in the months after his November 2001 arrest — at least 40 — he couldn’t list the CIA along with more than a dozen other agencies including the Secret Service and what was then known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
The prohibition against naming the CIA came in a “protective order” issued by the court at the government’s request. The tribunal’s deputy chief prosecutor, Army Col. Bruce A. Pagel, couldn’t say which agency sought the shield or what arguments were made to justify it.
That’s some grade ‘A’ civilisation, freedom and democracy right there, gag orders and secret agencies being protected by the judge. What exactly do they teach in US law schools? I mean really, what’s on the syllabus? How to wear suits and make Office templates for your bills? And the final is a trivia quiz on LA Law? Even when they get caught there is no sanction, Bush Crime Family, to the core. I like that there are people who advocate and defend this regime, it makes me think if I ever need to sell a rusty bucket overflowing with cold diarrhoea as a priceless antique soup tureen, I know where I can find some willing shills. And oddly eBay’s Meg Whitman is a right wing nut case (with political ambitions) so caveat emptor baby.