By Rebecca Bynum and Jerome B. Gordon.
Since the time when Dr. Walid Phares was appointed by Presidential candidate Mitt Romney as one of his national security advisors in 2011, the pro Iran regime and Muslim Brotherhood networks in the media have been waging one smear campaign after the other to tarnish his reputation and intimidate decision makers so they will not appoint him to any position in any administration. As soon as Donald Trump announced Phares as one of his foreign policy advisors in March 2016, he was attacked again by an even wider network of militant media across the web using the same recycled and repeatedly discredited material.
After the 2016 election, Phares returned to the private sector as an expert, but the pro-Iran and MB lobby was still concerned he may be called to join the new administration. Politico ran a hit piece against him in November, filled once again with falsehoods. This August, as a number of officials were leaving the White House, it is believed that the “lobby” feared he may be invited in. Though there were no indications at all that Phares was intending to join the administration or be called upon to officially advise, Politico published another attempt to discredit Phares in a scathing hit piece. The article was authored by a former AP journalist Nahal Toosi, who has shown her support for the Iran Deal and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Dr. Phares, an expert in the field who has been testifying about country conditions in Congress, to governments, and in courts for over twenty years, had just finished a testimony at an immigration court in Detroit on behalf of an Iraqi Chaldean who was detained for deportation. Phares was called upon to explain one thing: whether country conditions today would affect this individual because of his particular family and personal circumstances. The expert spent a few hours explaining to the court and the government how things are in Iraq and then left. The court decided to release the Chaldean detainee and reinstate his status. The judge was convinced of the facts and assessment, and the government decided not to appeal. The session did not address US politics nor the policies of the administration. It focused only on what could happen now or in the near future should this individual be deported to Iraq.
However, for Politico there are only two issues at hand:
One is that Phares, having been an advisor to Trump in 2016, was sitting in court countering President Trump’s order for removal. The argument is twisted in its inception. Phares did not discuss the immigration policies of the administration. He was asked only about one case-possibly impacting multiple cases in the future-of immigrants who entered legally, committed unlawful acts, lost their green cards and are now being considered for deportation. Dr. Phares was asked very specific questions based on one: How would the country conditions affect the deported person? Politico is fooling its readers by claiming anything else, as court transcripts and the many who attended the session can attest. Martin Manna, the president of the Chaldean Community Foundation, who was in attendance, has repeatedly told Politico that Phares testified on country conditions, but to no avail, for the said media was set on smearing not on reporting.
The second charge by Politico was that Phares charged for his testimony and that his fee was high. Again, Politico failed in this low-level argumentation. First, Phares offered his services, and the clients could accept or not, as all other paid experts do. Second, Phares does not have a non-profit operation similar to a number of NGOs involved in the deportation issue who receive millions of dollars from donors. Dr. Phares did charge for his time on this case, though he has offered public service free of charge for the past 27 years, including helping humanitarian groups and communities to pass their messages on to Congress, administrations, media and the United Nations. As for the fee levels, in the private sector, such fees are negotiable. But a mere calculation of the fees based on time spent, places Phares’s numbers solidly within the norm for a national expert.
Walid Phares is introduced in this article as the “Lebanese American Maronite” who appears on Fox News. It would be as if Henry Kissinger was introduced as the “German Jew” or Zbignew Brejinski is presented as the “Catholic Pole.” This obsession with Phares’ background demonstrates how the forces behind Politico perceive American immigrants, always linked to the politics and the sectarianism of their mother countries. That’s how it works in Iran or Syria, but not in the United States.
Toosi wrote, “Phares has benefited from the belief of people desperate to stay in the U.S. that his involvement in their cases might give them an edge.” Jawad Sayegh, the top analyst on US affairs at the liberal Arab publication Elaph reports otherwise: “The judge is liberal, there is no chance for politics there. And the government represents the Trump administration and argues for deportation. Phares talks about Iraq not Trump.”
In the end, Politico shattered its journalistic credibility by publishing this piece, only to please its backers and perhaps, as Tom Harb has argued, as an extended arm of the Iranian and Brotherhood propaganda machine. Politico is no more mainstream and respectable than radical subversive websites in the far left or far right circles.
Meanwhile in the real world, the detainee is free, his family is happy and thankful for the US justice system, the court was informed, the Government didn’t appeal and the communities are looking forward for more stability.
Rebecca Bynum is the publisher and editor of New English Review Press and a member of the American Mideast Coalition for Democracy (AMCD). Bynum is the author of Allah is Dead and The Real Nature of Religion.
Jerome B. Gordon is a former intelligence officer, Senior Editor of New English Review and author of The West Speaks.