The Man Who Spawned “#FoxNewsFacts” Also Advises the U.S. Government on Terror
Self-styled “terror expert” Steve Emerson set off a sort of global laugh track last week when he claimed that parts of the United Kingdom had been completely taken over by Muslims, and that the city of Birmingham no longer allowed non-Muslims to enter. Emerson's fact-free rant spawned the Twitter hashtag #FoxNewsFacts, prompting users to conjure up outlandishly satirical tales that mocked with the farcical quality of Fox News analysis. “When I heard this, frankly, I choked on my porridge and I thought it must be April Fool’s Day,” British Prime Minister David Cameron said of Emerson's remarks. “This guy’s clearly a complete idiot.”
Unfortunately, Emerson is anything but a joke to those he advises. As the founder of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, a non-profit, Emerson channels millions in funding to SAE Productions, a private company he controls that has no available data on its assets. He has been called as a witness before Congressional committees looking into terrorism-related issues including the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. His website boasts of endorsements from current and former government officials. Here's a few examples:
“The Investigative Project on Terrorism is critical to our nation's security. There is no other non-governmental group that has better intelligence or data on the threat to the United States and our allies. Making do with a bare bones budget, the IPT is a national treasure whose influence and achievements are unparalleled”â€¨ -- U.S. Representative Pete Hoekstra, Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
"[The Investigative Project] was a decade ahead of its time in focusing on the terrorist threat to the United States and to our homeland from Islamic extremism..."â€¨ -- U.S. Representative Brad Sherman, D-CA
"The Investigative Project is the only one out there who is really doing substantial research into what is going on in the world and here in America. They are actually researching, they are recording, they are verifying how this [radical jihadist] movement is taking place ... I don't know of anyone else who is doing the same thing."â€¨ -- U.S. Representative Sue Myrick, R-NC, Chairman of the Congressional Anti-Terrorism/Jihad Caucus and author of the forward to Muslim Mafia
"When FBI said there were no Web sites in the U.S. that were recruiting jihadists for training in Afghanistan or soliciting money for terrorist front groups, I asked Steve Emerson to check. Emerson had written the book American Jihad, which had told me more than the FBI ever had about radical Islamic groups in the U.S. Within days, Emerson had a long list of Web sites sitting on servers in the United States. I passed the list to Justice and the FBI..."â€¨ -- Richard A. Clarke, Chief Counter-Terrorism Advisor for the National Security Council, Author of Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror.
â€¨The Investigative Project on Terrorism relies heavily on one the Republican Party's biggest kingmakers, the Las Vegan casino baron and pro-Israel billionaire Sheldon Adelson. The Adelson Family Foundation has donated at least $250,000 to the Counterterrorism and Security Education and Research Foundation, which finances Emerson.
Neither Adelson nor these Members of Congress nor Fox News should be shocked that Emerson would make kooky claims that inspire worldwide mockery. After the Oklahoma City bombings, which turned out to be the work of a right-wing white extremist, Emerson claimed that he had information that Saudi nationals were involved in the attack. It was the same false claim he made after the Boston attacks by the Tsarnaev brothers. He was reported in 1994 that he maintained close ties to Israeli intelligence; he also led the charge to prosecute Sami Al-Arian, a Muslim-American community activist who was cleared of wrongdoing after more than a decade of legal wrangling, jail time and house arrest.
Emerson is a shadowy figure who levels ridiculously defamatory claims against Muslims on a regular basis, reaping millions of dollars in profits in the process. His analysis is highly suspect, and yet he has been repeatedly called upon as a knowledgeable witness by government officials. The question is whether the snafu that made him the object of global ridicule finally end his status as “expert.”