Congress Must hold Hearings into the Al Jazeera Deal
By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
If Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) lets the Al Jazeera-Al Gore deal go through without scrutiny, then every broadcast entity or communications facility in America is ripe for the plucking by any of our nation’s enemies and adversaries.
For those who haven’t been paying attention lately, the government of Qatar has announced a deal through Al Jazeera with former Democratic Vice President Al Gore for his Current TV cable channel, in order to transform it into an arm of its Jihadist or “Terror TV” network, once known as a mouthpiece for mass murderer Osama bin Laden. They are planning to call it “Al Jazeera America,” when the oil money for the transaction is coming from abroad. This is part and parcel of the deception, which is designed to make it appear as though Al Jazeera is as American as apple pie and simply has a foreign-sounding name.
To be sure, the deal was not technically announced by Qatar, a Middle Eastern dictatorship where freedom of the press is not permitted. Instead, Al Jazeera made the announcement. But that is part of the deception. Al Jazeera is an arm of the Qatar regime and is not in any sense of the term an “independent” news organization. It is government-funded with “advertising” from such entities as Qatar Airways, the national airline partly owned by the regime. Qatar and Al Jazeera are one and the same.
The purpose of this transaction is to soften the American people up for more Middle East revolution, including within the borders of the U.S. Dr. Judea Pearl, the father of slain journalist Daniel Pearl, supports an investigation of the deal and says, “Al Jazeera weaves the ideological structure and combustible angers from which Jihadi recruits eventually emerge.”
Qatar postures as a friend of the United States and hosts a U.S military base. But Qatar also served as the base for anti-American and anti-Semitic “cleric” Yusef al-Qaradawi before he returned to Egypt to help consolidate the Muslim Brotherhood revolution there. Al-Qaradawi is a leading television personality on Al Jazeera.
You may have missed the news that Qatar just extended another $2.5 billion in economic aid for Egypt, following a gift of $400 million that the emir of Qatar made to the terrorist group Hamas.
Al Gore and his partners, including Joel Hyatt, got more than that—$500 million, according to reports. Whether or not that is an accurate figure, any amount is a drop in the bucket to the emir, who is worth billions of dollars and lives in opulence.
By the way, Muslim Brotherhood leader and president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, just told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that he wants the release of the Blind Sheikh, sentenced to life in prison for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York City. This first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center killed six people and injured over 1,000 others.
Dr. Pearl calls Al Jazeera “the main propaganda machine” of the pro-terrorist Muslim Brotherhood. It is no surprise, therefore, that Qatar would underwrite the Egyptian regime and Hamas, and that the Obama Administration would voice no public objection to the sale of Current TV to Al Jazeera.
However, there is no reason to believe this sale is legal. The circumstances surrounding the sale clearly require Congressional hearings and this is where the Republican House of Representatives and its new chairman of Homeland Security, Rep. Michael McCaul, come in.
If ever there was a time for Congress to take action, this is it. This is not a time to let the Obama Administration take the lead, since it has already approved the questionable deal, which fattens the coffers of two prominent Democrats.
There are many things about this deal that stink and which require an investigation by McCaul’s committee.
First, there are unresolved complaints to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) about Al Jazeera’s operations in the U.S. Jerry Kenney of Kenney Broadcasting has asked that the DOJ enforce the law by requiring that foreign propaganda pumped into American homes by Al Jazeera be labeled as such. He says, “Why is it that if I buy a pair of tennis shoes made in China, it has to be labeled made in China? But foreign propaganda which is being aired in the U.S. is not being labeled as foreign propaganda, with its country of origin, in violation of the law? I want to know what I am getting. If you know who has produced something, you look at it differently.”
Secondly, it appears that Al Jazeera has evaded the law requiring federal approval for foreign investments in America that have national security implications.
Al Jazeera has issued a 26-page document in which it claims that the deal “does not involve any federal communications licenses or other assets subject to FCC approval.” Again, this is deceptive, since broadcaster Jerry Kenney has filed an FCC complaint about Al Jazeera programming being illegally aired on taxpayer-supported public TV stations. Al Jazeera also claims that “None of the statutory factors that trigger a CFIUS review—e.g., production of important technology, production of military goods, operation of critical infrastructure—are implicated in this transaction.”
CFIUS is the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States and is under the jurisdiction of the Treasury Department. It is described as “an inter-agency committee authorized to review transactions that could result in control of a U.S. business by a foreign person (‘covered transactions’), in order to determine the effect of such transactions on the national security of the United States.”
What “covered transactions” come under the review of CFIUS? We have learned through press reports that CFIUS approved China-based Dalian Wanda Group Corporation’s purchase of AMC Entertainment, one of the nation’s largest movie theater chains.
The CFIUS process is secretive but we learned about this approval from the Chinese entity, which announced it in a press release in July of 2012.
The writer Zach Coleman notes, “News broadcasting is more politically sensitive than cinema operation and Al Jazeera is a much more controversial acquirer than Dalian Wanda, which was previously unknown in the US.”
This is precisely the case. Yet, Al Jazeera claims it had no obligation to obey the law in this case.
I asked the Treasury Department whether Al Jazeera was required to apply for approval of the purchase and all I got was a run-around. A spokesman said, “I will decline to comment. By law, information filed with CFIUS may not be disclosed by CFIUS to the public. Accordingly, the Department does not comment on information relating to specific CFIUS cases, including whether or not certain parties have filed notices for review.”
How’s that for transparent government? Mark Jaskowiak, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Investment Security at Treasury, should be called before Congress to explain the double standard.
If the Chinese buying a movie theater chain comes under the auspices of CFIUS, then a takeover of a cable channel reaching 40-50 million homes has to qualify as well.
Jerry Kenney, president of Kenney Broadcasting, says, “It’s even more insidious in the case of Al Jazeera because cable companies bundle these packages of channels and deliver them to your home, whether you watch them or not. You end up subsidizing the channels you don’t want. Current TV was actually getting a fee from the cable operators to run the channel. So subscribers who pay for that package will end up paying money to Al Jazeera for its new channel.”
In the case of a movie theater, Kenney points out, “you have to make an effort to get out of your home to drive to a theater to watch a movie. With Al Jazeera, you will be forced to pay for it coming into your own home, whether you want it or not.”
It is time for Rep. McCaul to do his duty and announce hearings into this curious transaction. The Committee on Homeland Security can be reached at 202-226-8417.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.