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November 25, 2004

Comments

(from the DeLong thread - more discussion takes place here anyway):

I find Juan Cole informative on Middle Eastern issues but not reliable on Israel-related issues - he seldom manages even a dispassionate tone when talking about "Likudniks" - and here his response seems to be 1) if you don't tell me your finances I get to make up what I feel like 2) ignoring the substance of the Reform stuff by engaging in unscholarly cherry-picking, as alleged, and 3) ignoring the plain meaning of "PR campaign on behalf of".

(A recent quote from Prof Cole: "So I guess "things" have been "clarified" in the Mideast, after three years of shows of force on both sides. What is now clear is that there is not going to be a Palestinian state, and that the Israeli "democracy" now owns three million Palestinian plantation slaves indefinitely.")

Prof Cole is sufficiently high-profile that MEMRI ought to have some right to challenge him if he's just lying about them (well, seems more like conspiratorially misrepresenting them at worst) in public (though this seems a stupid challenge). What would e.g. Prof DeLong do if Instapundit posted some nonsense to the effect that his blog is funded by some rabid anti-semitic left-wing group or that his posts are aimed at affecting the stock market in ways his corporate sponsors can exploit? What if he did it on Fox News?

That said, I doubt MEMRI is entirely reliable, but what source of information about the Middle East (or anything else for that matter) is? I've heard it claimed elsewhere that MEMRI presents both the most virulent anti-Western voices and the most moderate, both out of proportion. Apparently their translations are good - in the likely case that their selection is biased, some researcher ought to demonstrate exactly how and readers of MEMRI should take that into consideration.

In other legal news, as noted elsewhere in that thread, CAIR is suing David Frum and a lot of right-wing news organizations.

I've never seen MEMRI charged with being unreliable in the sense of providing bad translations. In terms of cherry-picking, it depends on what you think you want. To they provide a perfect mirror of the Arab press? Almost certainly not. But many of the articles they do translate would never be published in the Western press. The fact that they are published in the mainstream Arab press is revealing, and that is more than enough.

Cole threatens to sue...

I've never seen MEMRI charged with being unreliable in the sense of providing bad translations.

Gosh, I've never seen anyone murdered in DC either. However, this is more likely due to my not looking for it than the liklihood DC is murder-free.

As for the comment WRT mainstream Arab press: nonsense. One could easily cherrypick the US press and present an image that appears extremist and kooky.

"I've never seen MEMRI charged with being unreliable in the sense of providing bad translations."

This is a source of wide speculation in the blogosphere, so it's not like nobody has thought about it. Certainly Cole and (the to my mind more broadly reliable Abu Aardvark) have reason to dislike MEMRI and have only come up with one instance where they claim one word was translated wrong (because too literally). If MEMRI's translations are slanted, there ought to be some authoritative charges out there and they ought to be posted at AA or Informed Consent.

It goes beyond bad translations; I suspect Sebastian understands this. It's the cherrypicking that's really the issue.

Suppose I wanted to create a 501(c)(3) whose sole purpose was to show the world what a horrible bunch of scumbuckets Americans are. The way to do it wouldn't be to mistranslate English into other languages to create a false picture. Instead, the way to do it would be to use selected passages which portray America in a bad light, excluding all other instances which do not.

David Duke understood this; he moved the KKK away from a message of 'we hate all blacks and Jews' to one of 'we just want to preserve and honor our culture.' But, the messages are essentially the same.

MEMRI does likewise.

I've heard it asserted they cherrypick radicals _and_ moderates. Also that it's hardly necessary to cherrypick to make the Arabic media sound virulently opposed to America, Jews, etc. Anyway, I'd like to see a well-done study on this issue.

jadegold,

I've never seen MEMRI charged with being unreliable in the sense of providing bad translations.

Gosh, I've never seen anyone murdered in DC either. However, this is more likely due to my not looking for it than the liklihood DC is murder-free.

What a faulty analogy. Surely you have *heard* that DC is not murder-free? Sebastian is saying that he hasn't even heard of MEMRI being charged with being unreliable - not that he he hasn't seen their misrepresentations personally.

Surely MEMRI has enough enemies to nit pick through their translations, no?

Sebastian is saying that he hasn't even heard of MEMRI being charged with being unreliable - not that he he hasn't seen their misrepresentations personally.

And if Sebastian would do a google search for "MEMRI" and look at the top 10 results, he would see several results dealing with the accusation of MEMRI being unreliable. He could look at, for instance, the highest ranked result that isn't from a MEMRI-run web site. In other words - if he hasn't seen the accusation, he hasn't been looking. Now since Sebastian implies he is familiar with MEMRI's work, I think Jadegold's analogy is a fair one.

Sebastian also claims "I've never seen MEMRI charged with being unreliable in the sense of providing bad translations".

Apparently, Sebastian does not read Mr. Cole's blog - Mr. Cole claims "the widespread impression that MEMRI is accurate but selective may be too generous. Serious lapses in accuracy are also apparent, and so far unexplained", and goes on to give a link to an exchange detailing exactly such charges:

One question the interviewer asked was: "How do you deal with the Jews who are besieging al-Aqsa and are scattered around it?" Memri translated this as: "How do you feel about the Jews?" - which is a different question. That left you with a reply in Arabic which didn't fit your newly-concocted question. So you cut out the first part of the mufti's reply and combined what was left with part of his answer to another question.

I mean come on, this is information that one could obtain by reading the web site that is one of the main topics of this supposedly knowledgeable discussion.

So link to what you think is the best case and help enlighten us felixrayman.

The fact that they are published in the mainstream Arab press is revealing, and that is more than enough.

More than enough to suggest what though?

The central issue for me in this is the claim by MEMRI that they're dedicated to balance on one side but the claim by Cole on the other hand that they're not dedicated to balance.

For me, the truth, as usual, is found within the humor. The Cartoons MEMRI posts are clearly slanted to prove a widespread anti-Americanism/anti-Israelism, with no attempt at all to provide moderate views, as far as I can see.

I have found Cole himself to be slanted on the subject of Israel. I took an hour once to sift through one of his posts, I think the one about how the sky was going to fall now that Israel had knocked off the "spiritual head of Hamas" (didn't turn out that way), and found about half a dozen plain errors and several unjustified leaps of logic. I don't even bother reading Cole on Israel any more; his mind is made up and the facts won't bother him.

I just googled for MEMRI and the first criticism was from the Guardian. Here's a part that made me giggle.

The journalist was made uneasy by this:

The reason for this secrecy, according to a former employee, is that "they don't want suicide bombers walking through the door on Monday morning" (Washington Times, June 20).

This strikes me as a somewhat over-the-top precaution for an institute that simply wants to break down east-west language barriers.

Funny stuff there! "somewhat over-the-top precaution"?? He goes on:

The second thing that makes me uneasy is that the stories selected by Memri for translation follow a familiar pattern: either they reflect badly on the character of Arabs or they in some way further the political agenda of Israel. I am not alone in this unease.

Reflects badly on the character of Arabs? Well, does the shoe fit or not?

Then he quotes Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations:

"Memri's intent is to find the worst possible quotes from the Muslim world and disseminate them as widely as possible."

Guardian, ofcourse, doesn't mention that CAIR Founded in 1994, CAIR is a spin-off of the Islamic Association of Palestine, identified as a "front group" for the terrorist group Hamas, according to Steve Pomerantz, former chief of the FBI's counterterrorism section.

Anyway, the article finally concedes that:

Nobody, so far as I know, disputes the general accuracy of Memri's translations but there are other reasons to be concerned about its output.

General accuracy is not disputed... But what's this? Other reasons? What could they be? Next paragraph:

The email it circulated last week about Saddam Hussein ordering people's ears to be cut off was an extract from a longer article in the pan-Arab newspaper, al-Hayat, by Adil Awadh who claimed to have first-hand knowledge of it.

It was the sort of tale about Iraqi brutality that newspapers would happily reprint without checking, especially in the current atmosphere of war fever. It may well be true, but it needs to be treated with a little circumspection.

Uh oh, right? Scroll down and what do we see? A correction posted 9 days after the original article:

The following correction was printed in the Guardian's Corrections and Clarifications column, Wednesday August 21 2002

In an article headed Atrocity stories regain currency, page 13, August 8, and in an article headed Selective Memri on the Guardian website, we referred to Dr Adil Awadh, an Iraqi doctor who alleged that Saddam Hussein had ordered doctors to amputate the ears of soldiers who deserted. Dr Awadh has asked us to make it clear that he has no connection with Memri (Middle East Media Research Institute), and that he did not authorise its translation of parts of an article by him. He is no longer a member of the Iraqi National Accord (INA). He is an independent member of the Iraqi National Congress (INC). His reference to orders by Saddam Hussein to cut off the ears of deserters has been supported by evidence from other sources.

There you have it. But do read the full article from the Guardian. Then read the response to the article by MEMRI. Guardian was a good sport to link it.

Oh, yea. This might be relevant:

A survey of the Arab world organized by the Al-Arabia network website after the death of Yasser Arafat, showed 73.72% want a Hamas representative to replace Arafat, ITIM reported. In contrast only 0.7% expect that one of the PLO leaders will take over.

25.58% were in favor of an independent candidate.

113,107 participants from across the Arab world took part in the survey.

The organizers of the survey explained that the Hamas movement and the Islamic Jihad organization stand for the establishment of a Palestinian state on the land of historic Palestine, a concept that the PLO gave up on when the Oslo discussions began.

from the Hamas' charter:

...the Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to the realisation of Allah's promise, no matter how long that should take. The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said:
"The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: 0 Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him! This will not apply to the Gharqad, which is a Jewish tree."

Note that I am quoting from Hamas' website, so there's no doubt about the translation.

73.72%?

MEMRI’s interpretation of the Bin Laden tape was absurd and offensive and almost certainly wrong even if they are correct about the literal translation. Do you honestly believe that Bin Laden won’t kill me because I live in Boston and my family because they live in New York? Yeah, right, because he has historically rewarded New York for its liberal voting habits, and it’s not like the New York area has the highest Jewish population outside of Israel or anything. And it’s not as if he’s said that he wants to kill at least 1 million American children; clearly he thinks some Americans are guiltier than others. And it’s not like a nuclear attack on Manhattan would cause 10-20 times as many casualties as an attack of comparable size on Atlanta or Houston because it’s 10-20 times more densely populated.

I’m actually surprised I haven’t seen the MEMRI translation used as an argument for cutting NYC’s homeland security money still further.

Perhaps I just haven’t looked in the right places.

Abu Aardvark has an entire category devoted to MEMRI.

Katherine,

MEMRI’s interpretation of the Bin Laden tape was absurd and offensive and almost certainly wrong even if they are correct about the literal translation.

Was that your expert analysis?

Do you honestly believe that Bin Laden won’t kill me because I live in Boston and my family because they live in New York?

Irrelevant. The question is whether the translation is accurate or not.

From NY POST:

Yigal Carmon, president of MEMRI, said bin Laden used the Arabic term "ay-wilaya" to refer to a "state" in that sentence.

That term "specifically refers to an American state, like Tennessee," Carmon said, adding that if bin Laden were referring to a "country" he would have used the Arabic word "dawla."

Now, I am not an expert on arabic, are you? He's referring to specific terms here ("ay-wilaya" and "dawla"). Looks easy to debunk. Has it been?

From the same source:

MEMRI also translated an analysis of bin Laden's statement from the Islamist Web site al-Qal'a, well known for posting al-Qaeda messages, which agreed that bin Laden's use of the word "ay-wilaya" was meant as a "warning to every U.S state separately." .

I don't understand the interpretation of the OBL threat interpretation as offensive - maybe _he_ might be offended for being misrepresented, but reportedly someone once heard OBL discussing the US based on the (99.9%) false assumption that the states have separate foreign policies. Anyway, I fully expect him to say things that are inexplicable to rational analysis, to lie, to try to convey different messages to different audiences, to misrepresent his goals and intentions, to sow confusion.

So link to what you think is the best case and help enlighten us felixrayman.

I mean come on, this is information that one could obtain by reading the web site that is one of the main topics of this supposedly knowledgeable discussion.

"Now, I am not an expert on arabic, are you? He's referring to specific terms here ("ay-wilaya" and "dawla"). Looks easy to debunk. Has it been?"

If you browse around Abu Aardvark, you'll find two or three posts specifically debating the use of these words (and another two or three posts on why MEMRI disgusts him). The Aardvark explains in some depth the translation issues, explains why he thinks MEMRI's is not the best translation, posts the arguments in favor of the MEMRI approach, and generally trashes MEMRI's approach of selecting a minority approach to translating the message without giving English-language readers any idea that they are doing so.

Here's his initial post, there's more detail in a followup post--

http://abuaardvark.typepad.com/abuaardvark/2004/11/memris_disgusti.html

I'm not disputing that "diwala" translates as "U.S. state", or saying that that translation is offensive.

But the idea that Bin Laden said "vote Bush and you're on our list, vote Kerry and you'll be spared" DOES NOT FOLLOW from the use of that term, and is implausible for a long list of other reasons. And I was not, for f***'s sake rilkefan, offended on Bin Laden's behalf. I was offended on my behalf. The New York Post article is a transparent and slimy attempt to insinuate that Bin Laden wanted people to vote for Kerry, and the blue states were acting out of cowardly appeasement. And MEMRI did the same thing.

Considering that:
1) I believe I and my family are more likely to die in a nuclear explosion because Bush was re-elected
2) I believe that I (in Boston) and my family (in New York City and Washington) are much more likely to die in a nuclear explosion than anyone I can think of in a red state, because of the location of large cities and densely populated cities where an attack would kill dozens more people
3) My state and city are getting screwed over on homeland security funds to prevent and respond to such an attack....

to be told, on top of all that, based on a patently absurd interpretation of an ambiguous translation, that I am voting for Kerry to do bin Laden's bidding and sell out my fellow citizens in the red states, is adding insult to injury. And I cannot express enough my contempt for anyone who says it.

and translating one message from the Islamist website that supports its view proves almost nothing, and is an excellent example of the "cherry-picking" that Cole speaks of.

abu aardvark makes the same point better than I. (This is not the same post Doh linked to; it's the most recent follow up, in responde to Cole's letter.)

A survey of the Arab world organized by the Al-Arabia network website after the death of Yasser Arafat, showed 73.72% want a Hamas representative to replace Arafat, ITIM reported. In contrast only 0.7% expect that one of the PLO leaders will take over.

I am sure one of the more biblical readers knows the right quote about how one reaps what one sows.

One of my biggest fears is that the religious nutcases will take over completely. One of my hopes is that Hamas in Lebanon is trying to become a political player, i.e. Sinn Fein & IRA.

I actually thought the fact that MEMRI was cherrypicking was a more or less established fact these days.

Marjolein

Michael Kramer reminds us that:

When I read Cole's posting, it reminded me of an earlier threat to sue made by Juan Cole to Daniel Pipes and myself, after the Campus Watch website came online on September 18, 2002.

How ironic...

"I'm not disputing that "diwala" translates as "U.S. state", or saying that that translation is offensive."

rephrase: I am not disputing that diwala can be translated as "U.S. state"--though it can also be translated as "sovereign country" or "regime", and more ARabic sites and newspapers seemed to think that was what bin Laden meant, and it makes much more sense when one considers his previous statements and acts of terrorism. Even if it DOES translate as "U.S. state", it does not follow that that means that "I will attack states that vote for Bush and spare states that vote for Kerry." If rilkefan is correct that Bin Laden erroneously believes that states have their own foreign policies, that would be another explanation. I can think of some others too. None are entirely satisfactory, but all are more believable than the claim that bin Laden was telling us that if our states voted for Kerry we would be spared, which is contradicted by other statements in the same video, many previous videos, the terrorist attacks on New York City, and Bin Laden "fatwa" announcing the intention of killing 1 million innocent American children. If he was making such a claim, one would think he would do so clearly. (One would also have to deal with the possibility that 1) he was lying; 2) he knew that such a claim would make people more likely to vote for Bush, not Kerry.)

Anyway, even if it was 50/50 that they were correct--and I would be shocked if they were--MEMRI's complete failure to note that their translation was controversial settles the question of their trustworthiness.

More from Martin Kramer:

One final point: reading Bin Laden's speech, I see he twice uses the word wilaya to refer to a U.S. state: first to say that Bush (like Arab rulers) installed his sons (sic) as governors of states (a reference to Jeb Bush), and that he imported expertise in election fraud to the state (wilaya) of Florida. These references to wilaya as U.S. states precedes the disputed reference we've been discussing (which only comes at the end). This does not settle the matter one way or another, but it certainly enriches the context.

It's in Abu's comments section.

Reflects badly on the character of Arabs? Well, does the shoe fit or not?

Well, Stan, I don't have a personal budget of $60M annually--but I can easily cherrypick.

"...we should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."

"I think [women] should be armed but should not [be allowed to] vote."

"My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building."

-- US writer, Ann Coulter

"You should only get AIDS and die, you pig. How's that?"

"With the [Latino] population that has emerged, since they breed like rabbits, in many cases the whites will become a minority in their own nation... The white people don't breed as often for whatever reason. I guess many homosexuals are involved. That is also part of the grand plan, to push homosexuality to cut down on the white race"

---US Radio and TV Journalist, Michael Savage

"Ideally, it would have been nice to have a few phalanxes of policemen with machine guns and mow them down."

--US radio personality Bob Grant commenting on a Gay Pride Parade

"The NAACP should have riot rehearsal. They should get a liquor store and practice robberies."

--US TV and Radio Journalist Rush Limbaugh

Well, Stan, does the shoe fit?

When I read Cole's posting, it reminded me of an earlier threat to sue made by Juan Cole to Daniel Pipes and myself, after the Campus Watch website came online on September 18, 2002.

How ironic...

Ironic? Lord. That bit of tripe was quickly slapped down by Mr. Cole:

The Boris and Natasha of Arab-Israeli politics, are saying that I brandished a lawsuit against them for putting up a dossier on me and encouraging people to spy on me for them, in 2002. Damn straight I did. And nor are these two incidents comparable. I did not threaten to sue them for libel, but for personal harassment. I didn't cyberstalk Yigal Carmon. In fact, I don't think I ever even mentioned his name until he threatened me. As a private person, he should be left alone. The rhetorical strategy of alleging that if you ever threatened to sue someone on solid grounds, you may not complain about someone else frivolously threatening you with a SLAPP, is typical of these polemicists. Move on. Nothing of interest to see here.

Keep plugging your agenda though, it's amusing.

Well, Stan, I don't have a personal budget of $60M annually...

Sweet! I was hoping someone would bring that up again.
Martin Kramer puts it in perspective:

Juan Cole has claimed that MEMRI is funded "to the tune of $60 million a year." Some bloggers have pointed out that MEMRI's filings show a budget of under $2 million, to which Cole responds: "I deny that I have misstated their funding. It is silly to think that the nearly $2 million that underwrites their Washington office is anything but the tip of their financial iceberg." You want silliness? $60 million is equal to the budgets of the Brookings Institution and the Heritage Foundation combined. (These premier think tanks, with hundreds of staff covering all aspects of foreign and domestic policy, fill their own office buildings in Washington.) It's more than a million dollars a week. It's $165,000 a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. It's twelve times the budget of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, where I'm camped right now. And it's one more reason why I can't take Juan Cole seriously. He hasn't got a clue.

Well, Stan, does the shoe fit?

The people you've quoted work for gov't controlled media?

Keep plugging your agenda though, it's amusing.

Naturally, I am honored to converse with such an agendaless person as you. So, linking other people's articles, when discussing them (much as all bloggers do), constitutes "personal harrasment"? Aw. Do go on.

I do think he should back up the $60 million claim. If he cannot, as seems very likely, he should retract it. I doubt this rises to a level that is actionable for public figure libel, but then, a SLAPP is not the same thing as a libel suit.

Their second and third complaints are crap, though. They do cherry pick, and their unconvincing evidence that they don't doesn't make his claim that they do libel. And he never said that they were an agent of Likud--he said they were "essentially a PR campaign on behalf of Likud" which is different. I'd say Fox News and the NY Post are a PR campaign on behalf of the Republican party. That is not an accusation that they are illegally receiving funding from the GOP.

I also think his SLAPP to Campus Watch was not fully justified, if it is true that they did not print his email address or other contact information and did not encourage others to harass him. I do agree that their intent was to intimidate, but if they don't say so....extended public criticism of someone's work isn't stalking, and holding that it was would have a chilling effect on free speech. Was I stalking the Family Research Council when I compiled their nasty statements? Cole is nothing like the FRC of course, and I hope I am nothing like Daniel Pipes, but First Amendment law is content neutral so that does nothing to settle the free speech concerns.

But. First, two wrongs don't make a right. Second, Cole, unlike MEMRI, was suffering harassment because of Campus Watch's activities. He and his colleagues were getting thousands of spam emails and worse, people were falsely sending out repellent emails under their names. A cease and desist letter was one of the most readily apparent ways to stop this. I don't approve, but I find it more understandable. And as I said, threatening a lawsuit is not the same thing as bringing a lawsuit.

Sweet! I was hoping someone would bring that up again.

Of course, if you were going to be fair, you would mention that Cole stands by his statement, acknowledges that MEMRI contests it, has asked MEMRI for evidence that his statement is wrong, and has offered to print such evidence if it is presented to him. So far, apparently MEMRI has chosen not to present such evidence, but rather to threaten to sue him for libel. Thus, the humor.

So, linking other people's articles, when discussing them (much as all bloggers do), constitutes "personal harrasment"?

No one made such an argument.

So far, apparently MEMRI has chosen not to present such evidence, but rather to threaten to sue him for libel. Thus, the humor.

Hah! As you said Keep plugging your agenda though, it's amusing.

Amusing indeed! Cole makes a baseless allegation and the burden of proof is on MEMRI? What happened to innocent until proven guilty?

MEMRI's filings show a budget of under $2M.

No one made such an argument.

Cole threatened to sue them for personal harassment, because they linked him.

Sweet! I was hoping someone would bring that up again.

I always aim to please, Stan.

But it appears Martin Kramer's 'research' is somewhat lacking.

When dealing with propaganda outlets--like MEMRI--it is always advisable to "follow the money"--knowing that propaganda outlets are extremely reticent about identifying the sources of their funding.


But MEMRI has given us many clues. I'd refer you to MEMRI's Schedule A on their Form 990. Specifically, lines 26a, 26b and 26c. These give an indication of funding that comes in the form of gifts; in MEMRI's case, gifts make up the overwhelming portion of their funding.

The neat thing about gifts is twofold: one, it grants the donor a certain amount of anonymity, and, two, it also conceals--to a degreee--the amount of that gift.

Since you mention the Heritage Foundation and other 'think tanks'---take a look at how MEMRI compares.

argh! Stop making me take Stan and MEMRI's side, even temporarily.

"Cole stands by his statement, acknowledges that MEMRI contests it, has asked MEMRI for evidence that his statement is wrong, and has offered to print such evidence if it is presented to him. So far, apparently MEMRI has chosen not to present such evidence, but rather to threaten to sue him for libel."

This reminds me a little of every right wing blog that justified active support of the Swiftboat Vets' lies about Kerry, despite overwhelming and increasing evidence that the Swiftboat Vets were telling vicious lies that were contradicted over and over by news reports and government documents, because supposedly Kerry could settle all this by just signing form 180, or whatever it was, and that would put everything to rest.

The fact that there's additional documentation MEMRI/Kerry could provide does not allow Cole/the Swift Boat Vets to just make up numbers about their budget/allegations about Kerry's war record in the meantime--especially when all the information we DO have suggests that the charges are false.

I'd also add that MEMRI is, in effect, an international propaganda operation with offices in Berlin, London, and Jerusalem. So, merely glancing at MEMRI's 501(c)(3) financial disclosures and concluding they have a budget of no greater than $2M annually is beyond silly.

Amusing indeed! Cole makes a baseless allegation and the burden of proof is on MEMRI? What happened to innocent until proven guilty?

Other than to point out that Cole stands by his statement and has been presented with no evidence that it is false, I will simply assume at this point you are unfamiliar with US libel law.

As to Katherine's comparison to "overwhelming and increasing evidence that the Swiftboat Vets were telling vicious lies that were contradicted over and over by news reports and government documents", I don't consider a statement that an organization has a budget of $60 million to be "vicious", Cole's claim has not been contradicted over and over by news reports and government documents, and Cole has acknowledged MEMRI's disagreement with his statement and agreed to print a retraction if presented with evidence that his statement is false.

MEMRI's filings show a budget of under $2M.

For its Washington office only. Are you stating that MEMRI has no budget outside the US?

If the $2 million is Washington only, I stand corrected. I still think you don't make charges you have no evidence for, and that $60 million is implausible.

I don't consider Cole's charges and the Swiftboat vets REMOTELY comparable. Cole's charge about the $60 million budget is much less serious, much less vicious, and there is much less evidence against it.

But I have seen no evidence for it either, and it is simply not ethical to repeat made-up charges about your opponents until they definitively disprove them. No one has any trouble seeing this when someone on their side is accused.

felixrayman,

Are you stating that MEMRI has no budget outside the US?

Are you stating that MEMRI's total budget is $60M?

Are you stating that MEMRI's total budget is $60M?

It may well be; I can guarantee you it isn't $2M.

Are you stating that MEMRI's total budget is $60M?

I have no idea what MEMRI's total budget is, nor have I either claimed or implied that I did. The only statement I made regarding their budget was that the ~$2M figure you gave was only for their Washington office. You, however did make a claim that could be seen as implying that MEMRI's total budget was under $2 million dollars, specifically, "MEMRI's filings show a budget of under $2M".

So, I'll ask again, are those filings only for the US, or do they represent the full total of MEMRI's budget, or do you not know one way or the other?

As for Katherine's point, "you don't make charges you have no evidence for", if Cole simply made up a number and printed it then obviously that would deserve criticism. If he printed a number he believed to be true, was threatened with a libel lawsuit, and countered with, "I acknowledge your statement, show me the right number and I'll publish it", that's something different.

Katherine: "And I was not, for f***'s sake rilkefan, offended on Bin Laden's behalf."

Just for the record, it never crossed my mind that you were (or could be) - and I don't believe I implied in any way that I thought so.

Jadegold, re MEMRI being "an international propaganda operation" - I don't quite understand where "organization to further a policy" stops, where "partisan " start and stops, and where "propaganda operation" begins. In our country, where do say the NRA, NARAL, AEI, the DNC fall? Similarly, where does "website analyzing" stop and "blacklist" start?

felixrayman, what's your view of the limits of "cyberstalking"?


I would still like to see a scholarly analysis of MEMRI's work. As far as I can tell Prof. Cole is acting as a blogger in this matter and not an academic [see my original post], which is a big part of the reason I'm less sympathetic to him than I would be under other circumstances, despite my negative view of his treatment of Israeli issues.

Try abu aardvark, starting with the links above. He's spoken to some academics; I'm not sure if he is one himself but he's certainly knowledgable.

Why on earth does it matter whether Cole is acting as a blogger or as an academic? It's somehow okay to intimidate the press? It's not like MEMRI isn't trying to influence the press.

Again, I ask you: when I say that Fox News is "essentially PR for the Republican party", am I libelling Fox, or implying a crazy conspiracy, or making an unfounded charge about whether Fox is violating the campaign finance laws? And MEMRI's second response is even dumber than the third. They have a point about the $60 million charge, but that's it.

I'll take your word for what you meant. I was furious and may have misread you. But why is it hard to understand how I would be sickened by MEMRI's translation of Bin Laden?

They're attempting to say that Bin Laden endorsed Kerry, and that a vote for Kerry is giving Bin Laden what he wants. Here's a guy trying to murder me and they're pretending that by voting for Kerry--the candidate I think is MORE likely to kill Bin Laden or prevent bin Laden from killing me, a friend, or family member--I'm somehow on Osama's side, or doing his bidding, or giving into his threats.

Is it really so hard to see why this offended me?

They're attempting to say that Bin Laden endorsed Kerry, and that a vote for Kerry is giving Bin Laden what he wants. Here's a guy trying to murder me and they're pretending that by voting for Kerry--the candidate I think is MORE likely to kill Bin Laden or prevent bin Laden from killing me, a friend, or family member--I'm somehow on Osama's side, or doing his bidding, or giving into his threats.

I think you're blaming the messenger here.

"Swiftboat Vets were telling vicious lies that were contradicted over and over by news reports and government documents"

other than the fact that alot of the Swiftboat stories were true and that John Kerry never fully released his military documents, which could have truly cleared up the issue.


"Is it really so hard to see why this offended me?"

Still escaping me, but will ponder. Since the interpretation that infuriates you may (as far as I know based on current info) be the correct (in some sense of the word "correct") one, I'm likely to stay confused though.

Here's a guy trying to murder me and they're pretending that by voting for Kerry--"

But, what if they aren't pretending? I mean, it is safe to say that most Islamic countries and leaders did want Kerry to win... it is an assumption, but it is probably more likely that Bin Laden did also want Kerry to win. The war has been tough on him.

I think it would be more accurate to say that those who supported Kerry don't support Bin Laden in ideology, but both may have wanted Kerry elected for different reasons.

re MEMRI being "an international propaganda operation" - I don't quite understand where "organization to further a policy" stops, where "partisan " start and stops, and where "propaganda operation" begins. In our country, where do say the NRA, NARAL, AEI, the DNC fall? Similarly, where does "website analyzing" stop and "blacklist" start?

Rilkefan, propaganda operations are usually those groups which purport to be about issue advocacy but rely on manipulation of information to appeal to or incite human emotion--as opposed to informed debate and argument.

Let's take a group we can all (I think) agree is a propaganda organization: the KKK. Their goal or mission is to end diversity and mixing of the races, with the end result being the spremacy of the white race, blah, blah, blah. Of course, the KKK has nothing to offer on why this might be a desirable outcome, so they must resort to the vilification of non-whites and non-Christians.

On the other end of the spectrum would be an advocacy group such as, say, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) or the American Cancer Society. Such groups have clear missions and actively seek to educate the public as to those issues.

Propagandists trade in inciting emotions, by exploiting insecurities, and, in particular, demonizing others.

other than the fact that alot of the Swiftboat stories were true and that John Kerry never fully released his military documents, which could have truly cleared up the issue.

Baloney.

Propagandists trade in inciting emotions, by exploiting insecurities, and, in particular, demonizing others.

Sounds like the Arab press as translated by MEMRI. Ofcourse, you are yet to show us that their translations are inacurate.

"Try abu aardvark, starting with the links above. He's spoken to some academics; I'm not sure if he is one himself but he's certainly knowledgable"

He describes himself as "an aardvark who got out of the tunneling and termite game to become a professor of political science, a Middle East specialist, and the father of a beautiful baby aardvark cub. Abu Aardvark speaks more Arabic than the average aardvark, but sadly has no better manners."

I am sceptical about some of these claims, but he strikes me as an honest blogger who knows his subject.

Stan, the insertion of "US" into the bin Laden tape is an example of an inaccurate translation. Bin Laden simply did not say "US state." That is inaccurate.

praktike,

Well, that's open to interpetation.

I am gonna repost my previous comment:

More from Martin Kramer:

One final point: reading Bin Laden's speech, I see he twice uses the word wilaya to refer to a U.S. state: first to say that Bush (like Arab rulers) installed his sons (sic) as governors of states (a reference to Jeb Bush), and that he imported expertise in election fraud to the state (wilaya) of Florida. These references to wilaya as U.S. states precedes the disputed reference we've been discussing (which only comes at the end). This does not settle the matter one way or another, but it certainly enriches the context.

It's in Abu's comments section.

When I was live blogging the hostage taking Beslan, I had to translate a ton of material from Russian. I can tell you that pretty often you have to translate certain words based on the context and not necessarely their direct literal meaning.

As Martin Kramer pointed out, Osama used the word "wilaya" twice when referring to US states in that same speech. Thus, MEMRI's translation seems reasonable to me.

"I can tell you that pretty often you have to translate certain words based on the context and not necessarely their direct literal meaning."

The insertion of "US" into a sentence where it simply does not occur isn't honest translation. Abu Aardvark is clearly entitled to put the boot into MEMRI on that score, and he does:

"you presented your highly controversial variant translation in the most partisan way possible, based on a very thin foundation of evidence, without ever acknowledging that weakness or - in the weeks since - responding to your critics or to the increasingly powerful evidence in the other direction. You similarly refused to translate commentaries on the very same sites which did not support your views, which gave your readers a highly warped perspective on the state of Arab argument."

Baloney.

Too kind.

abc_me: But, what if they aren't pretending? I mean, it is safe to say that most Islamic countries and leaders did want Kerry to win...

It is safe to say that most of the world wanted Kerry to win, for the very obvious reason that having a competent and intelligent President running the world's only superpower is much safer for the rest of the world.

it is an assumption, but it is probably more likely that Bin Laden did also want Kerry to win. The war has been tough on him.

It's an assumption, and it's an unlikely one. The disaster area that is the Bush administration has been highly beneficial to Osama bin Laden and to al-Qaeda. However, I won't pretend that I can get behind Osama bin Laden's way of thinking: all we can say is that factually, Bush's tactics have tended to benefit al-Qaeda. Which candidate Osama bin Laden wanted to win (and whether he cared) is entirely irrelevant to me, and ought to be so to you, too.

I think it would be more accurate to say that those who supported Kerry don't support Bin Laden in ideology, but both may have wanted Kerry elected for different reasons.

To argue that, you have to argue that those who support bin Laden in ideology prefer to have someone competent, intelligent, and diplomatic running the US: rather than someone who is an exceptionally good "recruiting sergeant" for al-Qaeda.

Jes,

It is safe to say that most of the world wanted Kerry to win, for the very obvious reason that having a competent and intelligent President running the world's only superpower is much safer for the rest of the world.

Amusing. Can I play along? How about Kerry vs. Kucinich. Who would "most of the world" want more? I'll make it even toughter - Kerry vs. Kucinich vs Nader.

Actually, Stan, it's not up for debate. Bin Laden did not say "US state."

Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or Al-Qa'ida. Your security is in your own hands, and any U.S. state that does not toy with our security automatically guarantees its own security.

He may have meant it, but he didn't say "US." So I think it was clearly dishonest of MEMRI to put "US" in there.

Stan: Amusing. Can I play along?

Certainly, if you like. The next game will open sometime in 2007, I believe.

Jes,

Who would the rest of the world pick given these two choices: Kerry or Kucinich?

Who would the rest of the world pick given these two choices: Kerry or Kucinich?

Depends, who is the Republican?

pratike, hate to argue with someone more informed than I am, but AA cites experts who disagree with you (though he's on your side). I don't think you can do better than "matter of controversy" on this translation. If you want to say that MEMRI's failure to flag that bit afterwards as a difficult-to-interpret section is evidence against their impartiality, I'll go along with you.

For the record, I think there are good reasons OBL might have wanted either Bush (because he's good for recruiting or because OBL in some "Wrath of Khan" way wants him to be president when al Q's triumph over the US occurs) or Kerry (because OBL could claim he toppled Bush, or because he mistakenly thinks Kerry would be weak) to be president, and it's a waste of time trying to convince anybody of one's preferred scenario.

...and it's a waste of time trying to convince anybody of one's preferred scenario.

And more to the point: who cares?

Points 1 and 3 are matters of fact and are easily resolvable. Point 2 is a matter of opinion. I don't think there's any question that MEMRI has selectivity bias. But so what. MEMRI provides a valuable service in translating material from the Arab world mainstream press that we would not otherwise hear about.

The copyright infringement that Cole threatened MEMRI with is nonsense. Pure smoke.

The copyright infringement that Cole threatened MEMRI with is nonsense. Pure smoke.

"Threatened"?

"and translating one message from the Islamist website that supports its view proves almost nothing, and is an excellent example of the "cherry-picking" that Cole speaks of."

The principle that groups affiliated with a speaker might have insight into shades of meaning, is not particularly shocking. This is especially true of groups which claim to be following a leader. This is especially true since how these followers interpret things may be every bit as important as how bin Laden meant them.

The fact that bin Laden talks about states as individual entities earlier in his speech and then uses the exact same word for his threat suggests that the MEMRI translation is not ridiculous. Considering that Western Middle East experts have downplayed the dangerousness of Arab extremism for decades, I don't think you can stand on Cole's reputation, such as it is, to show that the translation is ridiculous especially when Al Qaeda affiliated sites seem to agree with that interpretation. Cole is noticeably anti-Israel, and it noticeably effects his interpretation of events. Which frankly is fine, because knowing that fact I can read him and get useful information anyway. But he has downplayed extremism for years, and been proven wrong about it repeatedly. He is deeply invested in his professional reputation in downplaying Arab extremism. Once again, that doesn't make him useless. It means you should be careful about taking his expertise at face value when, as here, the discussion is about the prevalance and dangerousness of Arab extremism.

As for Ann Coulter, I note that she was fired from the National Review over that article and her response to the fact that they would not run it. Are you alleging that inflammatory Arab writers get fired for trying to publish raving anti-American screeds?

Arab governments tightly control what the press is allowed to print--in stark contrast with the United States. Anti-american screeds and genocidal anti-Jewish editorials get published in various prominent Arab media all the time. The fact that MEMRI can find them almost every day in very popular media is not encouraging. Call it cherry-picking all you like, but you would not be able to do the same in a survey of high profile US publications on a day to day basis. In fact you had to reach back three years for yours. That may very well reflect a dangerous difference.

And I don't think anyone here is accusing you of voting for Kerry because of bin Laden's threats.

Cole is noticeably anti-Israel

There is a difference between being anti-Likud and anti-Israel. Learn it, your argument will benefit from it. Is Cole allied against the large and growing Arab Israeli minority? What does the word "Israeli" mean to you?

As for Ann Coulter, I note that she was fired from the National Review over that article and her response to the fact that they would not run it. Are you alleging that inflammatory Arab writers get fired for trying to publish raving anti-American screeds?

Note that Coulter is still published in hundreds of papers. Are there places where Arab writers would be fired for "raving anti-American screeds"? Of course. And there are places where Coulter's anti-American screeds - and have no doubt, her screeds are anti-American - are welcome.

Arab governments tightly control what the press is allowed to print

Simply a false generalization. Qatar is not Saudi Arabia.

Anti-american screeds and genocidal anti-Jewish editorials get published in various prominent Arab media all the time

So, they get published, according to you, in the Arab media, but not the American media, and this is evidence of tight control of....which? Is it your position that no Arab in America believes in these positions?

Cole goes beyond "anti-Likud" when he writes, "What is now clear is that there is not going to be a Palestinian state, and that the Israeli 'democracy' now owns three million Palestinian plantation slaves indefinitely." He's saying that no Israeli govt will ever accept an agreement short of something morally repugnant by 19th C standards. I couldn't even find a single reference to the Geneva Accord or to Peace Now on his website.

rilkefan, I understand the arguments on both sides of the MEMRI debate, but I believe my position is unassailable. Simply put, bin Laden did not utter "U.S." in that sentence.

He may have been referring to a state or a nation. That's a major aspect of the dispute and I can't shed any more light on it.

But again, he never said "U.S."

I was dishonest for MEMRI to put that in there.

praktike, it's a translation - there's no such thing as a literal word-for-word equivalence (don't tell my Latin teacher I said so). If they're faced with a puzzling passage and they decide what the author intended and choose a clear expression, esp. when a synonym is involved, then I don't think it's reasonable to call them dishonest. In an academic context they would be required to footnote the US (and certainly putting it in brackets would have been advisable) - but they did cite two Arabic sources for their interpretation, and there was internal evidence for it.

Anyway, as Anarch says, we're arguing about the translation of a document by someone who fits my definition of a madman.

"What is now clear is that there is not going to be a Palestinian state, and that the Israeli 'democracy' now owns three million Palestinian plantation slaves indefinitely."

Explain which part you disagree with.

OK, rilkefan, I see where you're coming from. But don't you agree that something that iffy needs brackets, footnotes, and caveats?

Oh, and FWIW, Osama bin Laden is a horrible guy, but he's not a madman. He knows exactly what he's trying to do and his strategy is rational given Lebanon, Somalia, Afghanistan. We need to try to understand him in order to fight him and his movement. Using his words for political purposes is not helpful in that regard.

Felix, I think cole's language is inflammatory, but it's also the case that if you go by the classical Weberian definition of a state, the Palestinians weren't offered one through Oslo and they aren't being offered one now.

Oh, and one of their Arabic sources was "Arabic dude on a jihadi website."

Felix, I think cole's language is inflammatory

Huh, a spokesman for the Palestinians who speaks perfect English and is coherent, respected, and inflammatory. Who could possibly feel threatened by that?

felixrayman,

Arab governments tightly control what the press is allowed to print

Simply a false generalization. Qatar is not Saudi Arabia.

Al Jazeera is forbidden to discuss Qatari royals or internal Qatari dealings on air. What's more, Al Jazeera is not an independent news organization.

What's more, Al Jazeera is not an independent news organization.

Nor is Fox.

Nor is the Moonie Times.

The list goes on and on...

jadegold,

Al Jazeera is gov't controlled.

Al Jazeera is gov't controlled.


As is Fox. And the Moonie Times.

Jade, gov't funded? links?

Since when are Fox/WT gov't controlled and not pro-Bush-businessman and loony-messiah controlled?

Anyway, praktike, I think OBL is either nuts, a fanatic, or really dumb, as I can easily think of a variety of strategies he could have followed that would have likely been much more detrimental to the US and better for his interests. If alQ-esque entities are stronger today than on 9/10, it's because of US leadership woeful to a degree not predictable beforehand.

Stan LS: Al Jazeera is gov't controlled.

There are two answers to that. One is, no, it's not: yes, it receives public funds from the government of Qatar, but it is explicitly granted complete independence from government control.

Two is: supposing that you disbelieve Al Jazeera's charter and the government of Qatar when they claim that Al Jazeera is an independent media network, you're asserting that Al Jazeera is controlled by the government of Qatar, one of the smallest states in the world.

Given that the Qatari government has had to field complaints from every other Arab state (cite) about news reports from Al Jazeera that criticize their governments or allow opposition figures to speak out, you'd think they'd do a better job of "controlling" al-Jazeera, wouldn't you?

But then, perhaps they're not lying - and al-Jazeera really is independent of government control. Do you have any evidence to show that the government of Qatar is in violation of Al-Jazeera's charter, Stan? Or are you just making it up?

Damn.
Fixed?

Jadegold, I'm waiting for Stan LS to provide links showing that the Qatar government has violated Al-Jazeera's charter which gives it independence from government control, since he's made that assertion without proof.

jes,

According to this, Al Jazeera is: Owned by the Amir of Qatar. Speaking of which, here's some news article I dug up:

#

Nov.25,2003: The Amir of Qatar has fired the manager of Jazzier TV Mr. Mohammad Al Ali, on allegation that he was cooperating and working for the ex-Iraqi regime of Saddam Husain. It was reported also that he was receiving money from Saddam government. However the President and Vice presidents kept their jobs although they have some interest with Saddam.

About Qatar's legal system (from CIA's world factbook):

Legal system:

discretionary system of law controlled by the amir, although civil codes are being implemented; Islamic law dominates family and personal matters

I think I've made my case that Al Jazeera is gov't controlled.

Stan: I think I've made my case that Al Jazeera is gov't controlled.

No, you haven't. You've demonstrated that the Amir of Qatar retains the right to fire a manager of Al-Jazeera (here's the news site that ran that story): but you have not demonstrated that the Amir controls Al-Jazeera's output, since according to the story you cited, the manager was sacked not for what he broadcast, but for "cooperating and working for the ex-Iraqi regime of Saddam Husain. It was reported also that he was receiving money from Saddam government". Sounds to me (if that story is true) that he was fired for (a) being a traitor to his country, if he was a Qatarian citizen, and (b) for taking bribes. (a) may or may not be a legitimate reason for sacking - I've never looked into it. (b) is certainly a legitimate reason to sack a senior manager.

Sorry, Stan. Nice try. Now find some evidence that Al-Jazeera is government-controlled.

Jes,

That's good stuff right there! I've long contended that many on the far left will give a free pass to dictators as long as they oppose our government.

You've demonstrated that the Amir of Qatar retains the right to fire a manager of Al-Jazeera (here's the news site that ran that story): but you have not demonstrated that the Amir controls Al-Jazeera's output

Fascinating! So if Bush retained the right fire Dan Rather or any other "journalist", then our media wouldn't be gov't controlled either?

since according to the story you cited, the manager was sacked not for what he broadcast, but for "cooperating and working for the ex-Iraqi regime of Saddam Husain. It was reported also that he was receiving money from Saddam government". Sounds to me (if that story is true) that he was fired for

Nice try, so if Bush retained the right to take CNN off the air because they withheld reporting specific instances of torture and death threats by Iraqi officials ? Or even better:

More stunning is the charge by former CNN correspondent Peter Collins that he was asked to read talking points from the regime's Ministry of Information on the air and later was chastised for reporting a story about a lie from the Iraqi government while CNN was trying to secure an interview with recently deposed leader Saddam Hussein.

As for being a traitor to his country, if he was a Qatarian citizen

What's the definition of traitor and how would it apply here if he worked for an independent news agency? And why is this the case: However the President and Vice presidents kept their jobs although they have some interest with Saddam.?

(b) for taking bribes.

Why is it the amir's business if he's taking bribes or not if he has nothing to do with the independent news agency by the name of Al Jazeera?

Now find some evidence that Al-Jazeera is government-controlled.

Amir retains the right to fire you at will. You are forbidden to dicuss the Qatari royal family. Amir owns and controls Al Jazeera. What's not clear?

tone people, please, it's a holidy.

So if Bush retained the right fire Dan Rather or any other "journalist", then our media wouldn't be gov't controlled either?

I'm sorry, I missed the part where you linked to a news story about the Amir of Qatar firing an Al-Jazeera journalist. Did he? Why didn't you cite that story? That would certainly be proof that Al-Jazeera is government-controlled.

Nice try, so if Bush retained the right to take CNN off the air because they withheld reporting specific instances of torture and death threats by Iraqi officials ?

I'm sorry, Stan, I missed the part where you linked to news that the Amir of Qatar had taken Al-Jazeera off the air because they'd failed to report a story. Did he? Why didn't you cite that story? That would certainly be proof that Al-Jazeera is government-controlled.

You still don't seem to have any proof that Al-Jazeera is government-controlled. Perhaps you should quit throwing this allegation around, since you don't seem to be able to prove it's so?

Jes,

That's pretty funny! Let's recap and have the folks here decide for themselves. The facts are as follows:

1) Al Jazeera was founded by the Amir of Qatar
2) Al Jazeera is funded by the Amir of Qatar
3) Al Jazeera is forbidden to dicuss the Qatari royal family or Qatar internal happenings.
4) Al Jazeera employees can be fired at will by the Amir of Qatar.

Does the Amir of Qatar control Al Jazeera or not? You decide.

Does the Amir of Qatar control Al Jazeera or not? You decide.

Let's see, Stan. You're asserting, not that the Amir of Qatar has the power to control Al Jazeera (which clearly he does) but that he does control Al Jazeera.

But you have yet to cite any instance of the Amir of Qatar actually acting to control Al Jazeera: the only example you've found is of the manager of Al Jazeera being fired, and that (apparently) not for any journalistic action or inaction, but for (allegedly) taking bribes from a foreign government.

If you could prove your case, would you need to put it to a popular vote? Evidently, you can't prove it: you just want the moral support of knowing other people agree with the conclusion that you have leapt to without any evidence to back you up.

Stan LS: Do you consider the BBC to be government-controlled?

"Let's recap and have the folks here decide for themselves."

I'm one of the folks here but I'm going to the pub in a few minutes. Here's my take:

The Governor of the Bank of England is appointed by the Government. He is forbidden to interfere in matters which, in the Government's view, are none of the Bank's business. He can be fired for misconduct. (A Deputy Governor was obliged to resign a few years ago as a result of a scandal.)

Is the Bank of England independent? The Chancellor says yes, since he does not interfere in the Bank's performance of its functions. I tend to agree with that view, based on my understanding of British customs.

"Does the Amir of Qatar control Al Jazeera or not?"

We need a better understanding of Qatari customs to determine that.

Kevin,

I wouldn't compare the Government of England to Amir of Qatar. According to CIA's World Factbook - Qatar's legal system is a discretionary system of law controlled by the amir, although civil codes are being implemented; Islamic law dominates family and personal matters

Anarch, can Tony Blair fire BBC's journalists?

But you have yet to cite any instance of the Amir of Qatar actually acting to control Al Jazeera: the only example you've found is of the manager of Al Jazeera being fired, and that (apparently) not for any journalistic action or inaction, but for (allegedly) taking bribes from a foreign government.

Bribes from a foreign gov't? Was his bribed to spy on Qatar? Can a Brittish citizen work for PBS? Is he then bribed by the US gov't?

If you could prove your case, would you need to put it to a popular vote? Evidently, you can't prove it: you just want the moral support of knowing other people agree with the conclusion that you have leapt to without any evidence to back you up.

I think I did prove my case. And I did list some evidence which I'll be happy to do again:

1) Al Jazeera was founded by the Amir of Qatar
2) Al Jazeera is funded by the Amir of Qatar
3) Al Jazeera is forbidden to dicuss the Qatari royal family or Qatar internal happenings.
4) Al Jazeera employees can be fired at will by the Amir of Qatar.

Does the Amir of Qatar control Al Jazeera or not? You decide.

Maybe I should break it down for you into terms you can understand. In the above, replace "Al Jazeera" with "Fox News", and substitute "Amir of Qatar" with "George W. Bush". Does Bush control Fox News? You decide.

Does the CIA consider the Bank of England independent? Or, since Anarch's question may be more to the point, the BBC?

Britain has "a discretionary system of law" controlled by the monarch, if you take seriously all the crap about the Queen having the power to dissolve Parliament, declare war etc.; of course everybody knows that's just ceremonial.

What really matters is whether the ruler has foresworn the right to interfere; that's the basis of the BBC's independence, such as it is.

"Anarch, can Tony Blair fire BBC's journalists?"

With a bit of help fom the likes of Lord Hutton he can fire the Chairman, the Director General and even a reporter for the Today programme. But it's uphill work.

I don't know what light that sheds on the question.

Good night, all.

Kevin,

With a bit of help fom the likes of Lord Hutton he can fire the Chairman, the Director General and even a reporter for the Today programme. But it's uphill work.

Somehow I doubt that the Amir of Qatar would need to pull some string to get people fired. What's more, unlike Tony Blair, he is not up for re election, hence he could do as he pleases.

Boy, this is a relief. Instead of invading Iran, we can go after Quatar. Sort of like the meal after Thanksgiving where you just want something light. And if we replace Al-J with a real press, driven by monetary considerations above all else, we'll be another step closer to solving the problems of the ME.

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