More on Walid Shoebat and CNN

CNN has now broadcast the second part of its investigation into into Walid Shoebat (I blogged on part one here), this time focusing on Shoebat’s finances and accountability. According to reporter Drew Griffin:

We couldn’t get a straight answer about anything from just about anybody.

The report includes a remarkable encounter with Shoebat’s handler Keith Davies at the recent Homeland Security conference in South Dakota:

Walid said that you would be able to tell us about your advisory board. You guys said you have generals and other high-ranking officials.

Correct, yeah.

Can you tell us who they are?

Erm… off the top of my head, yes. Let me see. Erm… I’m trying to think. The name’s gone blank. It’ll come back to me in a second… Major General… err… [sigh]… La. I can’t remember name… Erm… Four-star… there’s a three star general at the Air Force… Irish name… Thomas… I usually know these off by heart…

Griffin says that Davies (who occasionally stops by this blog to post goading comments) eventually came up with the name of a pilot, who did not respond calls for confirmation. It seems bizarre that Davies found it so difficult to come up with any name – and that such names are not in the public domain anyway. If there really is a general involved with Shoebat’s advisory board, the most likely candidate would be Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin, a well-known Christian Right figure who spoke at an alternative Fort Hood Memorial event organised by Shoebat’s Forum For Middle East Understanding back in November (Robert Spencer was also a participant).

Public tax forms, CNN notes, name as board members Davies and Lance Silver, who is described as “a real-estate developer”. I looked at Silver – who has also been involved with the “Interfaith Taskforce for America and Israel” and the “America-Kurdistan Friendship League” (in the latter case alongside Jack Wheeler) back in 2008. According to CNN, the tax returns contain “very little information”. When asked for further details, Davies nodded towards other speaker stalls and complained that

You don’t ask anyone else here about the money.

He went on to explain that “most of the money goes to help persecuted Christians in the middle east that the media doesn’t want to talk about”. Shoebat was also asked for details about how he helps persecuted Christians:

 A lot of the times, if you disclose information who you’re helping, it ends up biting them.

This is an evasive reply – as I noted last month, Shoebat has claimed to be protecting families affected by some of the highest-profile cases of Christian persecution reported from Pakistan. And why does Shoebat require more secrecy than is the case for other Christian groups that work in this area, such as  Open Doors or Release International?

The CNN report ends with a statement from the federal Department of Homeland Security, which states that the DHS does not “tolerate” any programme “that relies on racial or ethnic profiling”.

Meanwhile, the Shoebat Foundation now has a fuller response on its website, disputing CNN’s account and alleging that CNN has worked secretly with “CAIR operatives” to carry out a “political assassination.” The response is difficult to follow, but the guts of it are that Griffin has lied about the checks he claims to have made into Shoebat’s terrorist background, and that Shoebat’s Palestinian relatives themselves have terror connections, which is why they lied to CNN about Shoebat not having been a terrorist. There are also further details about Shoebat’s purported links to known terrorists.

The reply also claims that Shoebat’s name would not appear in Israeli records because he used his mother’s maiden name in his US passport. Shoebat claims that he couldn’t divulge these details to CNN because “CNN refused to offer privacy”; perhaps this is a genuine concern, but based on Shoebat’s statements and a bit of googling I was able to track down the name on the internet quite easily. So, once again, there is no reason why the “proofs” which Shoebat showed Daniel Pipes in 2006 should not be made public.

However, as I’ve written before: Shoebat’s back-story may or may not be true. The question of whether he’s an appropriate speaker at Homeland Security events can be assessed by looking at his statements, which are so excessive as to be absurd.