Aaron Klein, Mubarak Mouthpiece
WorldNetDaily's Jerusalem reporter does the bidding of the Egyptian dictator while relying on distortions and anonymous sources to dismiss the will of the Egyptian people -- even apparently making sure the regime got copies of his Obama smear book.
By Terry Krepel
In its reporting on the unrest unfolding in Egypt, WorldNetDaily decided to pick a side. Which one would it choose: the side of entrenched dictatorial leader Hosni Mubarak, or the masses who seek Mubarak's ouster in favor of a more democratic country?
WND chose to side with the dictator, with reporter Aaron Klein leading the tilt.
Klein set the tone in a Jan. 29 article asserting that "The Egyptian government suspects elements of the current uprising there, particularly political aspects, are being coordinated with the U.S. State Department." But as is per usual for Klein, he cited no named source to back up this claim, only an anonymous "senior Egyptian diplomat."
Klein typically hides behind anonymous sources when he attacks Obama on Middle East policy. In this case, he was suggesting without any credible evidence that Obama is deliberately helping the Muslim Brotherhood, a longtime right-wing smear.
Klein went on to assert that Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei "is seen as an ally of the Muslim Brotherhood, the main opposition force in Egypt":
Last week, ElBaradei gave an interview to Der Spiegel defending the Brotherhood.
But Klein edited out statements by ElBaradei that contradict his assertion. From the full Der Spiegel interview, with the statements Klein edited out in bold:
We should stop demonizing the Muslim Brotherhood. It is incorrect that our only choice is between oppression under Mubarak and the chaos of religious extremists. I have many differences with the Muslim Brotherhood. But they have not committed any acts of violence in five decades. They too want change. If we want democracy and freedom, we have to include them instead of marginalizing them.
In other words, ElBaradei's full statement, and the entire interview, shows that he is recognizing the Muslim Brotherhood as a part of the political opposition that must inevitably be a part of the country's post-Mubarak future. It's irresponsible of Klein to deliberately hide information from his readers in order to falsely portray ElBaradei as something he's not.
For good measure -- and as further evidence of his anti-Obama pathology -- Klein included a factual error in order to attack Obama. Klein cited a 2008 incident in which the U.S. government allegedly "helped a young dissident attend a U.S.-sponsored summit for activists in New York" as further evidence of "the Obama administration's alleged interference there."
Of course, there wasn't an Obama administration in 2008, at the time of the alleged incident. The UK Telegraph article he cites as evidence mentions only "the American embassy in Cairo" as helping the dissident and doesn't mention Obama at all.
Klein kept up the anonymous smear-mongering in a Feb. 1 article claiming that "The Egyptian government has information a diplomat at the U.S. embassy in Cairo secretly met yesterday with a senior leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, the nation's major Islamist opposition group." His source: "an Egyptian intelligence official." Again, no substantiation of the claim is provided.
In another Feb. 1 article, Klein attempted to build a case that Obama and his administration "have an extended history of reaching out to the organization representing the main opposition now in Egypt's unrest, quietly building ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and its worldwide allies." But that article is filled with spurious claims as well. Klein writes that "Muslim Brotherhood members reportedly were invited to attend President Obama's 2009 address to the Muslim world from Cairo." In fact, Obama did not invite them as Klein suggests; Fox News reported at the time that "officials said invitations were only sent out by Cairo University and Al-Azhar University."
Klein wrote, "Also in 2009, the Egyptian daily newspaper Almasry Alyoum ran a report claiming Obama had met with U.S. and European-based representatives of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood that year." But that report is unsubstantiated; when the Israeli newspaper Haaretz repeated the Egyptian paper's claim, it offered no evidence that the claim was ever investigated and verified.
(Keep in mind that WND has a habit of treating any old claim in a foreign newspaper as true if it conforms to its agenda. Remember how desperately WND clung to the claim that Obama's trip to India cost $200 million a day well after the claim was discredited by every other news organization that cared about facts?)
Klein also asserted that "there have been multiple reports the past two years of behind-the-scenes contact with Hamas, which was founded as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood." Again, Klein named no actual person making the claim, only "multiple top leaders of Hamas in Gaza." But if they're terrorists who hate America, why should anyone believe what they have to say? And why is Klein granting anonymity to terrorists -- something he likes to do -- in the first place?
Merely using his WND platform to attack Obama, though, apparently wasn't enough for Klein. It seems he felt he needed to make the shocking and possibly treasonous jump into directly collaborating with a foreign government against the interests of the United States. Needless to say, his employer is proud of such apparent treason. A Feb. 2 WND article conveys that pride:
Top members of the Egyptian government say they feel betrayed by President Obama, charging that he is acting against American interests.
It's not explicitly stated, but the implication is that WND is giving copies of Klein's factually flawed smear book to Egyptian officials -- a regime that, at the time WND published its article, was in the midst of brutally suppressing freedom-seeking protesters. Given Klein's reporting in support of the regime, tough, he's undoubtedly more than happy to supply it with some of his propaganda.
Of course, when Klein puts his propaganda in the hands of foreign powers with the express purpose of destabilizing the the leader of the country he is a citizen of, he is also harming America itself by creating anti-America animus in an Egyptian regime where there was relatively little. In other words, that makes Klein not just anti-Obama but anti-America.
It's doubtful that Egyptians see any meaningful difference between Bush and Obama. Once Klein's propaganda circulates around the dying Mubarak regime, he will have created a new American enemy.
But why let a little treason stand in the way of telling your biased story?
Klein kept up his dishonest shilling for the Mubarak regime. A Feb. 6 article attacked the Egyptian opposition movement as linked to George Soros, complaining that Soros-funded Open Society Institute's Middle East and North Africa Initiative "has provided numerous grants to a wide range of projects that promote so-called democratic issues across the region, including in Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood stands to gain from any future election." But Klein offered few details about what the Soros-funded initiatives has done, nor did he explain why things like protesting the detention of a man imprisoned for 15 years by Mubarak's regime without a trial or even any charges filed against him is "so-called democratic" instead of actually democratic.
Another Feb. 6 article by Klein blamed Hamas for "the dramatic explosion at a gas terminal that disrupted the supply of fuel to Israel"; Klein cited only a single source for this claim, an anonymous (of course) "senior Egyptian security official."
A Feb. 7 article by Klein carried the subhead, "Look what Obama's support for Islamist group is doing." What is it that Obama is supposedly "doing"? Allegedly permitting the "re-establishing" of "an Egyptian Islamist terrorist organization founded by the Muslim Brotherhood." Yet again, Klein's sources are anonymous -- this time "Egyptian and Israeli security officials."
And Klein asserted in a Feb. 8 article that "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." Klein cites only "informed Egyptian security sources" to back the claim and offers no on-the-record confirmation.
For those of you keeping score at home, every single major claim on Egypt Klein has made to date is anonymously sourced -- every single one. Why should a reporter who won't name a single source be trusted?
Meanwhile, as supporters for Klein's favorite dictator were beating up and detaining dozens of journalists, it turns out one of those attacked journalists has a previous connection to Klein.
Olaf Wiig is a freelance cameraman who regularly works with Fox News, and he and Fox correspondent Greg Palkot were severely beaten by pro-Mubarak supporters. In 2006, Wiig and another Fox News reporter, Steve Centanni, were kidnapped in Gaza and held for two weeks before being released.
As ConWebWatch detailed at the time, when Klein reported on the story for WND, he claimed that a $2 million ransom had been paid for the reporters' release, and he suggested that Fox News had paid it. Fox News was quick to shoot down that claim, which led to much huffiness on the part of WND editor Joseph Farah insisting that Klein had never made such a claim. That's only technically true; while Klein did not assert that Fox News had paid a ransom, nowhere did he state that it didn't. Klein, meanwhile, followed up with a column that was part defense ("No source stated or implied the money came from Fox News") and part suck-up ("I cannot stand idly by while others misrepresent and falsify my words to wrongly smear America's best cable news network").
The suck-up worked: Klein has regularly appeared on Fox News and its Fox Business sister network since that time, most recently on Jan. 31 pontificating about -- what else? -- Egypt.
Klein took another stab at playing the Soros guilt-by-association card in a separate Feb. 8 article:
An international "crisis management" group led by billionaire George Soros long has petitioned for the Egyptian government to normalize ties with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Klein curiously doesn't link to the ICG report so readers can judge for themselves. Why? Perhaps because those readers would learn that Klein has cherry-picked from the report to misrepresent its contents.
The above is the very limited extent to which Klein describes the details of the report. What he doesn't tell you: ICG told the Muslim Brotherhood to moderate its views as well:
The Muslim Brothers also carry their share of responsibility. Although they have made considerable efforts to clarify their vision and can make a credible case that they embrace the rules of democratic politics, including the principles of citizenship, rotation of power and multiparty political life, serious questions linger. Many of their pronouncements are ambiguous; not a few including in their most recent political program retain a distinctly non-democratic, illiberal tone. This is particularly true concerning the role of women and the place of religious minorities, neither of whom, for example, the Muslim Brothers believe should be eligible for the presidency. Clarification is needed. Democratising the Society’s internal practice also would help, particularly if the group’s more pragmatic wing is able to make a credible case for a doctrinal revision as the price to pay for political integration.
If Klein had told the truth about the ICG report, it would have destroyed his little storyline of Soros masterminding the Egypt chaos. But clearly, the storyline is more important to Klein than the truth.
That storyline is one that Klein is determined to stick to. In a Feb. 10 opinion column (not that there's much difference between Klein's "news" and his opinion), Klein even goes so far as to embrace Glenn Beck's conspiratorial rantings about a coming Muslim caliphate, declaring that "Glenn Beck's vision of an emerging Islamic caliphate -- with the radical American left aiding and abetting the Muslim Brotherhood -- is far closer to the truth and supported by abundant evidence." Klein repeats some of his discredited claims about Soros, and he baselessly conflates the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which most unbiased Egyptian observers agree is relatively moderate and pragmatic, with more radical Islamist iterations elsewhere.
Klein ultimately concludes that democracy can't be allowed in the Middle East if there is the possibility that the people might choose someone he doesn't like:
I too wish for a real democracy in Egypt and in the greater Middle East. But even the well-meaning should be willing to admit that this experiment has failed time and again. Indeed, it has aided the modern Islamist expansion now threatening the entire Middle East and beyond.
Of course, by eliminating democracy as an option for Egypt, Klein has once again sided with a dictator.