I just returned from a trek through the fever swamps of the right, and I have to say, the trip was a bit unnerving. My goal was to track a particular piece of right-wing nonsense down to its source, in hopes that I might learn something about those who generate such stories, those who disseminate them and those who are willing to swallow them hook, line and sinker, time and time again.
This time, our trip starts with this rather startling headline from Redstate:
Now, if true, that would be a major story to say the least. It would also be the most stupid act of political suicide imaginable. It is inconceivable to any sane person that any American administration would consider releasing the mastermind of attacks on the World Trade Center that killed six Americans, injured more than a thousand and served as the precursor for the later attacks of Sept. 11. There is no rational universe in which that could be true.
Ahhhh, but the Redstate post contains actual links that purport to document the sensational claim it makes in its headline. Let’s see where the links take us, shall we?
One link takes us to a column in the Weekly Standard, in which it is suggested that the turmoil in Libya and Egypt may actually be motivated by extremist hopes of getting Rahman freed. That is certainly a feasible theory, because the blind sheikh is a hero to many Islamist radicals. However, that same column goes on to point out the obvious, that “it is inconceivable that Rahman will be released.”
Oddly, Redstate never mentions that fact.
The other link takes us here:
That’s the headline at The Blaze, a conservative “news and opinion” site. It was founded by Glenn Beck two years ago because, as he put it, “Too many important stories are overlooked. And too many times, we see mainstream media outlets distorting facts to fit rigid agendas.”
Because distorting facts to fit rigid agendas is a bad thing. Why distort when you can just make things up wholesale?
However, note the Blaze headline. At Redstate we were told outright that Obama is negotiating the release of Abdel-Rahman. If we trace the craziness back one generation, we are told that the State Department is merely “considering” such talks that in turn could lead to Abdel-Rahman’s release.
And the alleged source for this “story of the decade?”
“A veteran intelligence analyst and researcher for The Blaze said he met with an official within the Obama administration who told him that the transfer of the blind sheikh to Egypt is something that is being “actively considered” by the administration.”
We also learn that “Glenn Beck revealed the controversial news on his show Monday.”
As if that weren’t confirmation enough, The Blaze also calls upon the services of one Andrew C. McCarthy, who in an earlier life led the prosecution team that put the blind sheikh behind bars. However, McCarthy now writes for the National Review, where his unique role in the conservative ecosystem includes lending false gravitas to pure nonsense, usually involving Muslims. In return for prostituting what is left of his credibility, he gets a degree of celebrity and attention, and he seems to be pleased by the deal.
This is what he told The Blaze:
“I think the plan has been to agree to the Blind Sheikh’s release but not to announce it or have it become public until after the election. That is consistent with Obama’s pattern of trying to mollify Islamists,” he added. “Obviously, they did not want this information to surface yet… but sometimes a situation can spin out of control.”
Given such wings, the story that Obama will soon release a prominent terrorist leader to his fellow Muslim has now begun flying around the conservative echo chamber, see here and here and here. The Twitterverse is also alive with the story, with Obama being accused of treason for daring to release a convicted terrorist.
And at Redstate, of course, the commenters are going nuts. “Are you (blanking) kidding me? Try Obama and the Justice Department for treason, please. And then throw the weakling Obama out of office. Dear sweet Jesus, save us from these morons,” writes one poster.
Ordinarily, other posters might, just maybe, come on the site and explain just how foolish and indeed stupid it is to believe such things. But the auto-correct function on Redstate has been dismantled; anybody who might dare to point out that the story is absolutely fantasy would be banned immediately.
For a ridiculous story such as this, however, true success comes only when it gains sufficient velocity in the RightWing Fantasy SuperAccelerator to exit its confines and force its way into the mainstream media. And indeed, just a few minutes ago, Jake Tapper of ABC News was forced to tweet that “WH says there’s no truth to the rumor that the State Dept is considering talks to transfer the “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel-Rahman to Egypt.”
But of course, that’s exactly what they would say, now isn’t it?
– Jay Bookman