A Wingnut Doco & No One Can Mention The CIA

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.

9 Responses to “A Wingnut Doco & No One Can Mention The CIA”

  1. korova Says:

    Wow, he sounds like an utter c**t.

  2. RickB Says:

    clot? Something about him reminds me strongly of the McCarthy witch hunt freaks, so gleefully getting people put in jail for guilt by association.

  3. korova Says:

    I think there are a lot of righties still seething about the fact that McCarthy was exposed and censured.

  4. RickB Says:

    Yes, I think overall that era was successful for them in making anything beyond ‘liberal’ too dangerous for open mainstream discourse. The hearings stopped but the culture of demonising left wing views is alive and well. Now taken to hysterical lengths like this shooter in the liberal church, out of food stamps and unemployed the right wing noise machine convinces him his problems are because of ‘liberals’. But that’s the Right, it serves a tiny wealthy elite and utilises misinformation to maintain a majority voting against its own interests, like wot that Shakespeare geezer wrote of jealousy – It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on.
    (ok not green eyed, but you get the gist).

  5. Gakko Says:

    Ah! Georgetown SFS graduate. I’m one too. Many (not all)of the kids who go to SFS are tossers (I include myself in this understanding) and think they are clued up. Very cynical, yet have no understanding of what they are really talking about and what it really means. Sympathy for others is often in short supply at that place. Especially for those born in very different circumstances than them.

  6. septicisle Says:

    To be fair to Kohlmann he is undoubtedly something approaching an expert on the insurgency in Iraq – he’s written at least two reports that completely cut through the bullshit that it’s all the work of al-Qaida and which are absolutely essential reading if you want to begin to understand the rivalries and realities on the ground there, even if he has done it through monitoring jihadists forums and their releases. Whether he can be considered a terrorism expert in general is something else entirely, and whether he should be regarded as an expert witness in trial is also suspect.

  7. RickB Says:

    Hey Gakko, thanks for the comment, I think it’s an example of when you have the right political views you can do quite well under the Bush Terror!!!!! regime. And clearly you are the finest graduate of Georgetown’s SFS and as far from a tosser as it is possible to be as evidenced by your fine taste in reading my blog! I shudder to think what other graduates of my University are responsible for, although I really only feel connected to the Art school, no way am I taking the heat for the business school and the like. At worst a bad TV series or exhibition, at least it gave the world Wallace & Gromit.

    Hey Septicisle, like they say a stopped clock can be right twice a day (and did anyone really buy the AQ crap about Iraq, one small group with largest being either the mercenaries or US forces in the biggest gang fight ever) but given his other activities and associations I would not rely on his testimony as you say. To take his ideological fervour and use it to put people in jail for years shows zero integrity and his aversion to real peer review is pretty telling too. There is a small industry in the almost pornographic ‘monitoring’ of forums, I think they enjoy conjuring a huge international conspiracy of an enemy rather too much. I wonder did the cold war create a whole subculture of people needing such a foe to make their lives work, and they pass that on generation to generation, quite apart from the institutional and geopolitical needs of empire to set up targets for attack and have threats form an enemy ‘other’ to subdue domestic unrest. Also the Israeli wingnut connections which invariably occur show how useful the war on terror is to Zionist territorial ambitions.

  8. ralfast Says:

    And worrying about the goverment is just half the battle. When private and public sectors intertwine, you can’t tell the Big Brother Snoopers from the Private Spies.

    Example of this:

    http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2008/07/mary-mcfate-sapone-gun-lobby-nra-spy.html

    And I bet you that they feed into each other. Trained by national security services on the taxpayer dollar (or pound) then going corporate to circumvent the law (European countries have stronger privacy protections, but the North America and the UK are more lax) to do the same for their corporate masters who may in fact may be their past and future governmental masters as well.

    The line between private and public, on the personal and national level no longer exist.

  9. RickB Says:

    I was just reading that! Very sleazy and very much does demonstrate the utterly corrupt ethics free nature of corporate culture and yes the revolving door with the state is, um…well that’s kind of one of the definitions of fascism. And yes the tax payer funds the training of people and the private sector then profits off their ‘expertise’. And of course corporate culture is not some apolitical value neutral thing, it is clearly right wing neoliberal extremism. So the blurring is also a very basic strategy by conservatives to move government ‘beyond’ politics’ ie democratic control as we move into a dictatorship of corporatism via privatisation. Except this time we will get a glossy brochure for the work camps and a choice of colours and styles for our inmate uniforms. Because choice, that’s democracy right?


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