Military Personnel & Veterans

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  • How The Media Fell For A Lie That A Muslim American Veteran Was Arrested For Connection With ISIS

    The Intercept Debunks Right-Wing Media Lie: "The Widespread Smearing Of Saadiq Long As Having Joined An ISIS Cell, Is Completely False"

    Blog ››› ››› KATE SARNA

    An investigative report by The Intercept explained how national and local media outlets uncritically repeated a false right-wing story that claimed a Muslim American veteran was arrested in Turkey for his connection with the terrorist group ISIS. The story originated from a right-wing blog that used anonymous sources with no knowledge of why the veteran was detained. Saadiq Long was not arrested for or accused of having a connection with a terror cell and currently faces no criminal charges.

    In November, PJ Media published a story claiming that Long, an American veteran who received media attention after he was secretly placed on no-fly list, was "arrested in Turkey as part of ISIS cell."

    Fox NewsRedState, and right-wing anti-Muslim figures like Pam GellarRobert Spencer, and Ann Coulter also pushed the story. Local media in Oklahoma, where Long's family resides, also joined the conservative media outlets repeating the false story.

    The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hassain debunked the PJ media story in a December 10 Intercept post reporting that "the widespread smearing of Long as having joined an ISIS cell, is completely false" (emphasis added):

    A RIGHT-WING BLOG called "Pajamas Media" published an article on November 24 claiming that Saadiq Long, a Muslim American veteran of the U.S. Air Force, was arrested in Turkey for being an ISIS operative. Written by Patrick Poole, a professional anti-Muslim activist and close associate of Frank Gaffney, the article asserted that Long "finds himself and several family members sitting in a Turkish prison -- arrested earlier this month near the Turkey-Syria border as members of an ISIS cell." Its only claimed sources were anonymous: "U.S. and Turkish officials confirmed Long's arrest to PJ Media, saying that he was arrested along with eight others operating along the Turkish-Syrian border. So far, no U.S. media outlet has reported on his arrest."

    Long's purported arrest as an ISIS operative was then widely cited across the internet by Fox News as well as right-wing and even non-ideological news sites. Predictably, the story was uncritically hailed by the most virulent anti-Muslim polemicists: Pam Geller, Robert Spencer, Ann Coulter, and Sam Harris. Worst of all, it was blasted as a major news story by network TV affiliates and other local media outlets in Oklahoma, where Long is from and where his family -- including his sister and ailing mother -- still reside.

    But the story is entirely false: a fabrication. Neither Long nor his wife or daughter have been arrested on charges that he joined ISIS. He faces no criminal charges of any kind in Turkey.

    [...]

    To begin with, it's irresponsible in the extreme to spread claims that someone has been arrested for joining ISIS without a very substantial basis for believing that's true. That's a claim that will be permanently attached to the person's name. The people who uncritically spread this "report" had nothing approaching a sufficient basis for doing so, and worse, most of them simply repeated the assertion that he was an ISIS operative as though it were verified fact.

    Beyond that, the only outlet to have "reported" this claim about Long and his family is Pajamas Media. Does anyone find that to be a credible news source, let alone one credible enough to permanently vilify someone as an ISIS member? The specific author of the report, Poole, swims exclusively in the most toxic, discredited, anti-Muslim far-right swamps -- he's a favorite of Frank Gaffney, last seen as the prime mover of Donald Trump's "ban Muslims" proposal -- and it is nothing short of shameful that so many people vested this anonymous smear with credibility. 

  • The Wall Street Journal Praises For-Profit Colleges That Prey On Veterans

    ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    Federal law allows for-profit colleges to access more federal funding by enrolling large numbers of military veterans, despite evidence that many of these schools do not prepare their students for the job market. In recent years, predatory recruitment of service members by several for-profit college chains has been exposed by congressional and media investigations, yet the Wall Street Journal editorial board continues to defend the schools' recruiting practices and advocates for fewer student protections at for-profit institutions. In honor of Veterans Day, here are some of the Journal's most misleading and inflammatory arguments defending failing for-profits that take advantage of veterans.

  • Fox News Anchor Is The "Special Guest" At Event For Group "Literally Created" By Kochs

    ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Fox News anchor Heather Nauert will be a "special guest" at an upcoming event for Concerned Veterans for America (CVA), a group that was "literally created" by the Koch brothers' financial network. CVA is headed by Republicans, has spent millions trying to elect Republicans, and has been criticized for trafficking in "partisan attacks" despite "posing as a vet advocacy group."

  • Fox & Friends Credits Trump With "Theoretical Apology" To McCain

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL CALVERT

    Theoretical Apology

    Fox & Friends' Elisabeth Hasselbeck stretched to credit Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump with granting Sen. John McCain "a theoretical apology" for his attack on McCain's military record. 

    Trump took to The O'Reilly Factor on July 20  to defend his now-infamous accusation that McCain -- a POW during the Vietnam war -- is "not a war hero," an attack Trump followed by sarcastically saying, "He is a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured." Trump has repeatedly refused to apologize to McCain for the attack, and he insisted to Bill O'Reilly that his remarks meant he believes McCain is a war hero. Trump told O'Reilly, "I have respect for Sen. McCain. I used to like him a lot. I supported him. I raised a lot of money for his campaign against President Obama, and certainly if there was a misunderstanding, I would totally take that back. But hopefully I said it correctly, and certainly shortly thereafter I said it correctly."

    Fox & Friends' Elisabeth Hasselbeck credited Trump with giving McCain a "theoretical apology" the next morning. Co-host Steve Doocy added, "And he's still steamed that John McCain referred to his supporters as crazy. You know, when you look at it in total, and given the fact that he did not back down, you gotta figure that when he was talking about the capture part, he was just kind of joking around -- a little trash talk there."

    Fox News has been running a full-throated defense for Trump over his attack on McCain, despite the fact that even the Wall Street Journal, also owned by Fox News Channel's Rupert Murdoch, is now calling out right-wing media pundits entertaining Trump's candidacy.