Haley Barbour’s Al Jazeera Problem
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is facing fresh criticism for his former business dealings with an Arabic news service that some conservatives view as a leading anti-American voice in the world and an enabler of propagandizing terrorists.
According to The Politico – both this story and an important follow-up revelation from reporter Ben Smith – Barbour’s old lobbying firm once represented Arab news network Al Jazeera, which gained infamy in America when it broadcast video messages from al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden following the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Specifically, Barbour’s lobbying firm was paid $300,000 in by Al Jazeera and the government of Qatar in 2005 to “improve relations with the Bush administration” which destroyed the network’s office in Kabul during the early days of the War in Afghanistan and killed one of its journalists during a 2003 attack on its Baghdad, Iraq office.
“Let’s be clear, Haley Barbour as a private citizen is free to take $300,000 from Al Jazeera,” said Brigitte Gabriel, president of the American Congress for Truth, a right-wing group that revels in stoking anti-Islamic passions. “It is legal and no one is claiming otherwise.”
Gabriel says her group – which has spent considerable energy spamming our founding editor in recent weeks – “will do everything in our power to make sure every red-blooded American, especially every veteran or family member of every active-military solider, will know where (Barbour) gets his money.”
Based on the prodigious amounts of spam these people can generate, we’ll take Gabriel at her word.
“Al-Jazeera is the mouthpiece of al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden,” she continued. “If that is who Haley Barbour does business with, he has no business running this country!”
Headquartered in Qatar, Al-Jazeera (which translates into “The Island”) was launched in 1996. Originally an Arabic language network exclusively, it launched an English language channel in 2006. While enjoying an adversarial relationship with the Bush administration, the network has been receiving praise recently from top Barack Obama officials like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
In fact, Obama himself recently said the network was “a big booster, big promoter of democracy all throughout the Middle East.”
So … what should South Carolinians make of this story?
Well, we weren’t big fans of Haley Barbour before this story hit … but we’re also not fans of the group that’s bashing him on this issue.
Besides, there are plenty of other reasons to vote against Barbour … starting with the joke of a state he governs.