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Anonymously Yours, Aaron Klein

The WorldNetDaily reporter bases a surprising amount of his work on claims from people he won't name and can't be verified -- that is, when he's not busy obsessing over George Soros.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 5/19/2011

Back in 2009, ConWebWatch documented WorldNetDaily's love of anonymously sourced articles, which would seem to fly in the face of editor Joseph Farah's dismissal of anonymous claims as "usually quotes made up out of whole cloth to help make the story read better."

The list of WND anonymous sources has only grown since then -- heck, even the production staff of WND's birther video, "A Question of Eligibility," chose to remain anonymous, though that is more likely out of a desire to disassociate themselves from such an amateurish, factually challenged video than the stated reason that they "fear reprisals from their government" -- and the leader of the anonymity brigade is Jerusalem-based reporter Aaron Klein.

ConWebWatch examined Klein's bylined articles for the first four months of 2011 and found that a surprising 31 articles contained a major claim whose source was anonymous. In nearly all the cases, Klein provided no reason for granting his sources anonymity.

Anonymous sources are controversial within journalism; editors tend to believe that they are less reliable, can't be independently verified, and provide an avenue for inaccurate information to be disseminated in the media. As former New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt has noted, lack of an explanation for why a source was granted anonymity does "nothing to help a reader decide how reliable the person’s information was."

Former Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander goes even further: "Anonymous sources often are necessary."

Klein peddled at least one anonymously sourced claim that proved to be false. Klein reported in a Jan. 27 article that "The Obama administration told the Palestinian Authority it will not veto an upcoming United Nations resolution condemning all Jewish construction in the West Bank and eastern sections of Jerusalem." His claimed source was "a senior PA official." In fact, the U.S. did veto the resolution. Klein did not report the veto, nor has he corrected his original story.

Given Klein's established bias in favor of right-wing Israelis (going so far as to whitewash far-right Israeli extremists) and against President Obama, as well as his willingness to be a shill for the regime of ousted Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak -- the anonymous sources Klein so often cites should be treated with skepticism at best. Perhaps even with complete disdain, given that at least one of them peddled a completely false claim.

Listed below are all 31 instances in the first four months of 2011 of Klein's articles citing an anonymous source to support a major claim.

Jan. 3, "Obama wants Jews to pay terror-supporting state"

CLAIM: "The Obama administration has drawn up a plan for Israel to give much of the strategic Golan Heights to Syria."

SOURCE: "informed Middle East security officials"

Jan. 12, "Obama accused of selling out Lebanon"

CLAIM: "Syria is poised to become the dominant player in Lebanon after the Damascus regime cut deals with the Obama administration."

SOURCE: "Top Christian leaders in Lebanon ... who spoke on the condition their names be withheld"

Jan. 27, "Obama will not veto U.N. assault on Jewish construction"

CLAIM: "The Obama administration told the Palestinian Authority it will not veto an upcoming United Nations resolution condemning all Jewish construction in the West Bank and eastern sections of Jerusalem."

SOURCE: "a senior PA official"

Jan. 27, "Islamists behind 'protests' toppling Arab regimes"

CLAIM: "Islamists stand to gain the most from the so-called popular revolts targeting the regimes of Egypt, Yemin, and Tunisia."

SOURCE: "Israeli and Middle Eastern security officials"

Jan. 27, "Did 'successor' to Egyptian president flee country?"

CLAIM: "The son and likely successor to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has departed his country for London amid mass anti-regime protests gripping the nation."

SOURCE: "two Egyptian diplomatic sources with insider knowledge of the incident"

Jan. 28,"U.S.-funded group linked to church bombing suspects"

CLAIM: "Palestinian Authority financial support for an Islamist organization accused of carrying out the deadly New Year's Day suicide bombing at a church in Alexandria, Egypt."

SOURCE: "Egyptian government sources"

Jan. 29, "Egypt blames U.S. for fomenting uprising"

CLAIM: "The Egyptian government suspects elements of the current uprising there, particularly political aspects, are being coordinated with the U.S. State Department."

SOURCE: "A senior Egyptian diplomat"

Jan. 31, "'Something big' transferred to Gaza Strip"

CLAIM: "a large quantity of weapons, including new and sophisticated firepower, was smuggled from Egypt into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip in the last two days."

SOURCE: "informed Middle East security officials"

Feb. 1, "U.S. 'held secret meeting with Muslim Brotherhood'"

CLAIM: "a diplomat at the U.S. embassy in Cairo secretly met yesterday with a senior leader of the Muslim Brotherhood."

SOURCE: "an Egyptian intelligence official"

Feb. 6, "Egypt blames Hamas for dramatic gas explosion"

CLAIM: "Militants working on behalf of Hamas were responsible for the dramatic explosion at a gas terminal that disrupted the supply of fuel to Israel."

SOURCE: "a senior Egyptian security official"

Feb. 7, "Muslim Brotherhood awakens terrorist wing"

CLAIM: "An Egyptian Islamist terrorist organization founded by the Muslim Brotherhood is re-establishing itself amid the political upheaval in Cairo."

SOURCE: "Egyptian and Israeli security officials"

Feb. 8, "Terrorists targeting Suez Canal escape"

CLAIM: "Members of a vast Hezbollah terrorist cell suspected of planning attacks against tourist sites and economic targets in the Suez Canal have escaped from Egyptian prison."

SOURCE: "informed Egyptian security sources"

Feb. 14, "Egypt nabs terrorists targeting strategic Suez"

CLAIM: "The Egyptian military has nabbed three Palestinians who had escaped from prison and who were suspected of being part of a larger cell thought to be planning attacks against tourist sites and economic targets."

SOURCE: "an Egyptian intelligence official"

Feb. 17, "Almost all terrorists escaped from Egyptian prison"

CLAIM: "The vast majority of Islamic terrorists who were being held inside Egypt's prisons have escaped in recent weeks."

SOURCE: "Egyptian security officials"

Feb. 25, "Look who else is reawakening terrorist wing"

CLAIM: "Members of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' militia, classified by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization, have been brandishing weapons publicly in recent days despite a disarmament agreement with Israel

Source: "informed Israeli security sources"

March 1, "Palestinian leaders romancing Hamas"

CLAIM: "the Palestinian Authority has been engaged in an intense effort to convince the Hamas terrorist organization to join it in a new unity government.

SOURCE: "a senior PA official"

March 6, "As Islamists gain, Obama pushes Israel into concessions"

CLAIM: "As Islamist parties gain momentum throughout the region, President Obama has asked Israel to immediately give the Palestinian Authority more control over cities in the strategic West Bank."

SOURCE: "informed Middle East officials"

March 9, "Israel looks to surrender control of strategic land"

CLAIM: "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will soon unveil a plan that would give the Palestinian Authority full security control of more areas of the strategic West Bank

SOURCE: "diplomatic officials with specific knowledge of the proposal"

March 10, "Egypt seeks better relationship with Hamas"

CLAIM: "The Egyptian military command has requested a meeting with Hamas to discuss ways to build a better relationship with the Islamist organization."

SOURCE: "Egyptian diplomatic sources," "sources in Hamas"

March 18, "U.S. funds to pay Hamas salaries?"

CLAIM: "The Palestinian Authority has quietly offered to place tens of thousands of Hamas security forces on its payroll if Hamas joins in a unity government."

SOURCE: "a senior PA official"

March 20, "U.S.-led airstrikes to help al-Qaida?"

CLAIM: "Arab leaders fear U.S. and international airstrikes against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's forces will aid the main Islamist opposition in the country, some of which consist of al-Qaida.

SOURCE: "a member of the now deposed regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak," "a top official in the Palestinian Authority"

March 21, "Iran ordered attack on Israeli civilians"

CLAIM: "Iran ordered Hamas to fire the massive barrage of rockets launched from the Gaza Strip at Jewish population zones in recent days."

SOURCE: "a senior Israeli security official"

March 23, "Iranian fingerprints on Jerusalem bombing?"

CLAIM: "The Israeli government has initial information indicating that instructions for today's bomb explosion at a crowded bus stop at the entrance to Jerusalem came from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip,

SOURCE: "Israeli security officials," "Palestinian Authority security officials"

March 31, "See what Syria to get for blasting protesters"

CLAIM: The White House quietly has been urging Israel and Syria immediately to renew negotiations aimed at an Israeli retreat from the strategic Golan Heights, WND has learned.

SOURCE: "informed Middle Eastern security officials"

March 31, "'Peace partner' to free jailed terrorists"

CLAIM: In a desperate bid to sign a unity government with Hamas, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has offered to release from prison scores of terrorists responsible for attacks against Jews

SOURCE: "informed Palestinian security sources"

April 2, "Palestinian forces unite against Israel, U.S."

CLAIM: "The so-called military wing of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah organization has formed a common operations room with the Hamas terrorist organization."

SOURCE: "Sources inside the Palestinian militant apparatus"

April 5, "Will this be next Middle East war?"

CLAIM: "The new Egyptian government has instructed its military to prepare for any eventuality regarding a crucial water dispute with neighboring Ethiopia."

SOURCE: "Egyptian security sources"

April 7, "Hamas targeted in mysterious airstrike"

CLAIM: "The target of a mysterious airstrike in Sudan was the Hamas terrorist organization's weapons smuggling infrastructure."

SOURCE: "Middle East security sources with detailed knowledge of the attack"

April 12, "You won't believe twisted logic behind attacks on Jews"

CLAIM: "A surprising factor in the decision by Hamas in recent days to escalate its rocket attacks against Israel is that some of its stored projectiles are losing their technical capabilities."

SOURCE: "sources close to the Islamist terror group"

April 18, "Obama preps for declaration of Palestinian state"

CLAIM: "The Obama administration has asked the Palestinian Authority to halt talks on a unity government with Hamas."

SOURCE: "a senior PA official"

April 25, "Look who refuses to stop 'imminent' threat against Jews"

CLAIM: "The new Egyptian government has refused to share important intelligence information with Israel, including details of a terrorist plot against Israelis thought to be imminent."

SOURCE: "security officials here"

* * *

When Klein was consulting alleged sources he can't be bothered to name, he was obsessing over George Soros. Here's some sample headlines, also from the first four months of 2011, that illustrate Klein's Soros obsession:

The April 14 and April 26 articles in particular are exercises in pettiness, nothing more than retaliation for criticism of WND. In the case of the former article, Salon's Justin Elliott had pointed out that WND has supplied no evidence to support its claim that the entirety of the $2 million or so the Obama campaign has spent on lawyers since the 2008 election has gone toward fighting birther lawsuits. He also had the temerity to request that WND issue a formal correction to a false claim by columnist Jack Cashill that Obama was Photoshopped into a picture of his grandparents, which got him nothing but a stream of insults from Farah, as well as an admission that "we publish some misinformation by columnists." (The false claim was simply removed from Cashill's April 7 column, with no correction or other acknowledgement that the column had been altered.)

Klein and Brenda J. Elliott went spelunking into Elliott's past to try and dig up some dirt, but all they could come up with was that he "has been a contributor to a think tank deeply tied to the White House that is funded by billionaire philanthropist George Soros." Read: He once wrote for the Center for American Progress' Campus Progress blog. They even perused Elliott's college newspaper work for evidence of ... something, apparently shocked to discover that he once argued that there are too many "white" editors on the staffs of college newspapers.

In the latter article, Klein responded to a tweet by the liberal blog Think Progress that WND's upcoming cruise to Alaska is the "worst vacation ever" by delivering one of his patented guilt-by-association harangues, denouncing Think Progress as a "George Soros-funded advocacy blog that is a project of a radical left think tank with deep ties to the Obama administration." The article contained a editor's note that "Aaron Klein is one of the featured speakers on the 2011 WND cruise to Alaska" -- an odd bit of disclosure given WND's history of routinely hiding its conflicts of interest on much more substantive matters.

Klein's April 28 article was based on more tweets by Think Progress, this time about Donald Trump.

Yes, WND is so thin-skinned that it will even attack tweets it doesn't like. And yes, Klein is such a shill that he will happily do his boss' duty in attacking any critic, even if they are more credible than those anonymous sources Klein takes refuge in.

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