When the New York Times audio documentary “Caliphate” won the Peabody Award, Times executive editor Dean Baquet took a victory lap, saying: “‘Caliphate’ was one of the best works of journalism of the year, created by a team of fearless journalists who shed new light on something as complex as ISIS and terrorism.” There was just one problem: “Caliphate” was largely based on the recollections of Shehroze Chaudhry, who admitted in Canadian court Friday that he made up the stories he told the Times’ “fearless journalists” about having been an Islamic State executioner. Rather than being “one of the best works of journalism,” “Caliphate” is actually the newest in a long string of object lessons proving that the New York Times is not a reliable news source. The newspaper is really a far-Left propaganda organ that cannot be trusted even when it is not retailing Democratic party agitprop.
In exchange for his admission, prosecutors dropped charges of a terrorism hoax against Chaudhry, apparently accepting the assertion of the fake terrorist’s lawyer, Nader R. Hasan, who said the stories Chaudhry told that fooled the Times were “mistakes borne out of immaturity — not sinister intent and certainly not criminal intent.”
Yes, of course. He likely became a fake terrorist because he knew that the Times, and particularly its star counterterror “journalist,” Rukmini Callimachi, would eat up the stories he would tell and publish them uncritically. After all, it wasn’t as if he was pretending to have been someone the Times really hates and fears, such as a right-wing Trump supporter. Nonetheless, Chaudhry’s lies caused a furor. According to the Times, “the release of that series in 2018, and other reports based on Mr. Chaudhry’s tales, created a political firestorm in Canada’s Parliament among opposition parties that repeatedly attacked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government for seeming to allow a terrorist killer to freely roam the streets of suburban Toronto.”
THE BIGGEST Al Qaeda plot the FBI claimed to have foiled in the years following the 9/11 attacks involved no weapons, no plot, and no Al Qaeda. Instead, the vague, implausible threat by a group of construction workers in Florida to blow up U.S. buildings, including Chicago’s Sears Tower, was mostly the making of the FBI, whose undercover operatives sought out the men, promised them money, and coached them over months to implicate themselves in a conspiracy to commit violent acts they never actually intended or had the means to carry out.
The “Liberty City Seven” case — known by its connection to the poor, violence-ridden Miami neighborhood where the men involved lived — was the most high-profile FBI investigation of a supposed terrorist cell after the attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. It came as the bureau, which had failed to act on intelligence it had received before 9/11, faced enormous pressure to predict and stop the next attack, setting off its transformation, in the words of former Deputy Director John Pistole, “from reactive crime-solving agency to preventative national security agency.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) continues its downward spiral into terminal corruption. Sadly, the scandals, criminality and ethical abuses of the organization are largely ignored by the American public and by the institutions of government charged with oversight and correction. Outrage after outrage is reported, hearings are held, Inspector General reports are issued — but the systemic corruption is never really tackled and dirty cops skate away virtually unscathed.
This situation is constitutionally unacceptable, corrosive to public trust in law enforcement, and a threat to the survival of the republic.
In the past few days alone, we have learned that the October 2020 Michigan governor kidnap plot was largely a creation of the FBI; a “senior FBI official” was on the take from media organizations; and another assistant director was in a “romantic relationship with a subordinate” and involved in “other misconduct.” The leadership failures documented by the Office of the Inspector General are now almost standard and part of a tiresome media drip-torture for the public to endure.
Meanwhile, the FBI had the audacity to issue a Stasi-like tweet urging “monitoring of ‘family members and peers’ for extremism.”
Remember: what we learn about the FBI in the press are only the stories that are SO outrageous that the FBI cannot keep a lid on them and is forced to make disclosures via a toothless Inspector General report — but never anything that results in a criminal indictment. Imagine what the ordinary day-to-day misconduct in FBI offices across the country could be. And these scandals don’t just amount to “bad press” – in several of these, federal courts scourge the FBI for lawbreaking. Additionally, Inspector General report after report details FBI abuses such as whistleblowers being retaliated against and ignoring “high-risk” employees who fail polygraph tests.
The narrative that domestic anti-government extremism is the greatest threat to U.S. national security — the official position of the U.S. security state and the Biden administration — received its most potent boost in October 2020, less than one month before the 2020 presidential election. That was when the F.B.I. and Michigan state officials announced the arrest of thirteen people on terrorism, conspiracy and weapons charges, with six of them accused of participating in a plot to kidnap Michigan’s Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who had been a particular target of criticism from President Trump for her advocacy for harsh COVID lockdown measures.
The headlines that followed were dramatic and fear-inducing: “F.B.I. Says Michigan Anti-Government Group Plotted to Kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer,” announced The New York Times. That same night, ABC News began its broadcast this way: “Tonight, we take you into a hidden world, a place authorities say gave birth to a violent domestic terror plot in Michigan — foiled by the FBI.”
Democrats and liberal journalists instantly seized on this storyline to spin a pre-election theme that was as extreme as it was predictable. Gov. Whitmer herself blamed Trump, claiming that the plotters “heard the president’s words not as a rebuke but as a rallying cry — as a call to action.” Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) claimed that “the president is a deranged lunatic and he’s inspired white supremacists to violence, the latest of which was a plot to kidnap Gov. Whitmer,” adding: “these groups have attempted to KILL many of us in recent years. They are following Trump’s lead.” Vox’s paid television-watcher and video-manipulator, Aaron Rupar, drew this inference: “Trump hasn’t commended the FBI for breaking up Whitmer kidnapping/murder plot because as always he doesn’t want to denounce his base.” Michael Moore called for Trump’s arrest for having incited the kidnapping plot against Gov. Whitmer. One viral tweet from a popular Democratic Party activist similarly declared: “Trump should be arrested for this plot to kidnap Governor Whitmer. There’s no doubt he inspired this terrorism.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo instantly declared it to be a terrorist attack on America: “We must condemn and call out the cowardly plot against Governor Whitmer for what it is: Domestic terrorism.” MSNBC’s social media star Kyle Griffin cast it as a coup attempt: “The FBI thwarted what they described as a plot to violently overthrow the government and kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.” CNN’s Jim Sciutto pronounced it “deeply alarming.”