Should Christians trust Breitbart? The attempt to smear Khan

Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is to evaluate specious “reporting.” Support for no presidential candidate should be inferred. The author remains firmly in the “undecided” camp.

Two weeks ago during the 2016 Democratic National Convention a Gold Star father, Khizr Khan, gave a six minute speech that reverberated around social media for days. Khan and his wife Ghazala are parents to the late Army Captain Humayun Khan who was killed protecting his troops in Iraq in 2004.

That Khizr Khan is a Clinton supporter is without question—he spoke unequivocally for her election as president.

That Khan opened himself and his family up to political reprisal is without question—he voluntarily entered that arena.

But should Christians forward and share stories that have little or no basis in fact merely because it reinforces a particular political point of view?

Entering the tangled web

If not the first such story, a front-runner to smear Khan came from the notoriously unreliable Shoebat (a website that takes more time to fact-check that it will ever be worth). In the wordy-entitled article, What The Media Is Not Telling You About The Muslim Who Attacked Donald Trump: He Is A Muslim Brotherhood Agent Who Wants To Advance Sharia Law And Bring Muslims Into The United States, Ted and Walid Shoebat give a master class in making both false assumptions and false connections. (No evidence Khan is a Muslim Brotherhood “agent,” wrong reading of a nearly 20-year old journal article, and erroneous understanding of the EB-5 visa process, for starters.)

Shoebat was copied (apparently) by the less-stable-than-Jello Gateway Pundit, with Breitbart, Pamela Geller (who basically scraped another site) and others varying the theme.

Breitbart offered two equally problematic articles, both by Matthew Boyle. The first rivals Shoebat for titular bloviation: Clinton Cash: Khizr Khan’s Deep Legal, Financial Connections to Saudi Arabia, Hillary’s Clinton Foundation Tie Terror, Immigration, Email Scandals Together, while the second goes Defcon 5 on a deleted website.

No one person has enough years left on earth to deal with all the mistakes, baseless claims, not-quite connections, and fabrications in just these two articles, much less the Far Right Wingnut cottage industry that promulgates this kind of slander. These three examples should demonstrate just how little the facts mean to these writers:

  1. “He financially benefits from unfettered pay-to-play Muslim migration into America.”
  2. “The EB5 program, which helps wealthy foreigners usually from the Middle East essentially buy their way into America, is fraught with corruption.” Related, that “he specialized in Muslim immigration.”
  3. “What’s perhaps interesting is that also on this website that he has now deleted, Khan revealed that he spent nearly a decade working for the mega-D.C. law firm Hogan & Hartson—now Hogan Lovells LLP—which connects him directly with the government of Saudi Arabia and the Clintons themselves. Saudi Arabia, which has retained the firm that Khan worked at for years, has donated between $10 million and $25 million to the Clinton Foundation.” [Emphasis mine.]

Numbers 1 and 2 are related. Boyle portrays Khan as a lawyer primarily concerned with helping wealthy Muslims immigrate to America—as if that is illegal. It isn’t, but that is not the point. Boyle is simply wrong.

It is true that the EB-5 visa program has problems. Earlier this year at a Judiciary Committee hearing Senator Chuck Grassley said:

The Government Accountability Office, the media, industry experts, members of congress, and federal agency officials, have concurred that the program is a serious problem with serious vulnerabilities.

An ABC News report cited in Grassley’s website statement said:

Some immigration groups have criticized the program as “nothing more than selling Green Cards.” Brent Wilkes, the executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens, one of the largest Hispanic civil rights groups in the U.S. said it “short circuits” the immigration process, allowing foreign nationals “with enough cash” to leap ahead of legitimate applicants who lack the means.

A Feb. 1, 2013 Homeland Security internal review obtained by ABC News also lays out in stark detail the breadth of the troubles afflicting some of the roughly 600 so-called regional centers — private sector entities certified by Homeland Security to recruit foreign investors for specific business ventures that will qualify for EB-5 visas. The document summarizes 41 investigations, some open and some now closed, into allegations ranging from espionage to fraud to drug trafficking involving investors in various EB-5 investment projects.

[…]

Another regional center raised money from Chinese investors to finance the construction of federal buildings, including an FBI headquarters building in San Diego, raising what one internal document called “national security concerns” that “pertain to Chinese investors having visibility to FBI blueprints/information.”

The problem is nothing in these mentions Khizr Khan or connects him in any way to corruption or the problems being investigated by the DHS.

Khan’s now deleted website (the subject of endless speculation with the conspiracy theorists) reveals via the Wayback Machine that he was not involved in EB-5 work in the time of the aforementioned investigation. He practiced in electronic discovery and international trade.

By early 2016 [see note] Khan had added HIPAA Compliance & Audit, E2 Treaty Investors, EB5 Investments & Related Immigration Services to his portfolio of services. It’s the EB-5 and “related immigration services” that created apoplectic conditions for Breitbart.

The facts are, contra Doyle, most of the people who come through EB-5 are not Muslim, and not from the Middle East. Middle Eastern countries barely make the list. The overwhelming number of EB-5 visas are granted to China—more than 8,000—many times more than the next 19 countries combined. None from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, or many other Muslim majority countries.

Legend available at link above graphic.

Legend available at link above graphic.

 

Those Chinese, Korean, Taiwanese and Vietnamese Muslims must have really crashed the regional centers. Such must be true if, as Breitbart alleges, it was “pay-to-play Muslim migration”…”usually from the Middle East.”

Breitbart’s assertion is a complete fabrication.

Whether or not Khan “specialized in Muslim immigration” is totally irrelevant: it isn’t illegal. Making a living as a lawyer with immigration expertise is the right of anyone in the U.S.

Most of the Wingnut sites focus on the EB-5 and “related immigration” to the exclusion of almost all the other information on the very same page:

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 4.44.04 AM

That’s right. Khizr Khan founded free legal projects for families of active American service members and indigent clients in New York, especially the elderly, women and children.

The real problem isn’t Khan or his profession. It is the “no Muslim immigration” sentiment that so regularly marks Breitbart.

Or, maybe facts simply aren’t their friends.

Number 3 is an attempt at guilt by association when neither association is guilty of anything. It is legal for law firms to contract with foreign governments provided they disclose the arrangement. Hogan Lovells did just that for 2016. Since Khizr Khan has been gone from the firm since 2007, their working arrangement forged for 2016 has nothing to do with him. Connecting Khizr Khan to Saudi Arabia via Hogan Lovells is like connecting Brett Favre to the Super Bowl via the Atlanta Falcons.

Doyle writes:

Khan’s connections with the Hogan Lovells firm run deep, according to a report from Law.com written by Katelyn Polantz.

The name of the Law.com article? DNC Speaker Khizr Khan a Man of Character, Say Former Big-Law Colleagues. A man of character. Seems such a description from former co-workers didn’t fit the corrupt Muslim lawyer narrative. What is “deep”? They loved and respected him. He was employed with the firm when his son was KIA.

Further, Khan, though now an attorney, was not an attorney at Hogan Lovells. He managed firm wide Litigation Technology Services.

Still further, Hogan Lovells is an enormous law firm, with offices in multiple states and countries around the world. The website lists more than 2,700 employees. That would also account for people in the firm giving money to the Clinton campaign. Again, this isn’t against the law and a person is not guilty when not breaking the law, no matter how bad you may disagree with their politics.

So when Doyle writes this remarkably bad sentence:

But representing the Clinton Foundation backing Saudi Arabian government and having one of its lobbyists bundle $50,000-plus for Clinton’s campaign are hardly the only places where the Khan-connected Hogan Lovells D.C. mega-firm brush elbows with Clinton Cash. 

he hasn’t remotely established any connection he purports to exploit. Whether Khan supports Clinton isn’t in question, nor is it even relevant to the assertions being made.

Whatever Breitbart’s motivation, followers of Jesus are forbidden from bearing false witness against their neighbor. Sharing these bogus articles is doing just that.

Note: This time frame does comport with Grassley’s larger concerns, but no connection to Khan is established or even a suspicion.

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Marty Duren

Just a guy writing some things.

  • thomas

    99% of every news article – whether from the internet or reported over the airwaves – likely has some form of falsehood or misleading information within it. Honest journalism has ceased to exist in recent decades. What goes by journalism these days is simply the desire of the writer to draw/mislead readers into their belief system instead of providing honest facts and letting the readers decide. That is the way with CNN, ABC News, CBS News, MSNBC, Breitbart, Huffington Post, Facebook/twitter news, Fox News, any government source, and every other news organization and blog site. As I think Orwell pointed out, “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” And my friends, we are in a time of universal deceit.

    As we don’t want to bear false witness, none of us should share or link to any news articles.

    It doesn’t matter which political party a person supports. God doesn’t worry about who is going to get elected – He is in control. The “godvernment” of both the Democrat and Republican policies and actions will simply leave the souls of people empty – which opens them to the Gospel. These times provide for a bountiful harvest – but the workers are few so let’s not waste the opportunity.

  • Steve

    Thank you. Whether somebody is a public figure or not, reporting needs to be truthful and backed up with solid evidence.
    I appreciate your efforts.