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September 06, 2011

Richard Silverstein and the New York Times: The Source and the Cover-Up

A story published today in the New York Times, “Leak Offers Look at Efforts by U.S. to Spy on Israel,” discusses the transfer of classified documents to a blogger by an FBI translator.

The story tells how the documents — transcripts from an FBI wiretap of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. that were illegally passed by one radical anti-Israel activist to another — reveal the United States spies on Israel. The reporter, though, fails to point out that the two central figures in the piece are anti-Israel extremists.

The omission is important, since the article was based almost exclusively on assertions made to the newspaper by one of the activists, radical blogger Richard Silverstein. And, in the words of the newspaper, his account “could not be fully corroborated.”

Readers are unable to evaluate Silverstein’s credibility and motives, and cannot reach appropriate conclusions about why he chooses to share the information he shares, because they aren't told that he's a dedicated anti-Israel activist. And it’s not that the story merely failed to properly characterize Silverstein; it dramatically miscategorizes him, saying only that his blog “gives a liberal perspective on Israel and Israeli-American relations.” Really?

Silverstein is in fact a distinct minority among liberals, most of whom sympathize more with Israel than with the Palestinians — 49 percent vs. 30 percent, according to a February 2011 poll conducted by Gallup.

Richard Silverstein is so extreme in his anti-Israel views that he has come to the defense of Hamas. He has earned rebuke from the American Task Force on Palestine’s Hussein Ibish, who tweeted that Silverstein is a “psycho.” Even J Street turned to Twitter to describe Silverstein as being responsible for “disgusting racist and crazy attacks.” (The head of J Street later apologized for publishing a post that turned “substantive disagreements into personal attacks.”)

Perhaps in exchange for being granted the interview and the scoop, the article soft pedals Silverstein in other ways, too. It mentions in passing that the blogger “said he had burned the secret documents in his Seattle backyard” after the FBI agent came under investigation, but the reporter apparently didn’t bother to ask him why he would do that. Was he afraid of being caught with the documents? Did he feel he was violating the law?

Moreover, because the documents have, for over two years, been nothing more than a pile of ash, the article is left to rely on selective bits that Silverstein claims to remember. A typical passage: “Mr. Silverstein said he remembered that....”

It should be noted that the blogger’s memory is not generally that good. He wrote on his blog in late 2008: “I have no idea what you’re talking about regarding Hamas rockets & the siege. The siege began just after Hamas won the PA election. That’s quite a while ago. I haven’t kept track of whether Hamas was firing rockets before then or not.” It's something only an anti-Israel activist could forget.

Posted by GI at September 6, 2011 06:23 PM

Comments

It's not surprising that the clueless Scott Shane portrays Silverstein as a "liberal Blogger" instead of what he actually is. The NY Times spin machine is on overdrive this month with their attacks on Israel.

Posted by: Craig at September 7, 2011 01:11 AM

Learn the truth about Dickie Silverstein, best known for smearing his own parents on his blog, at www.kapodickie.blogspot.com

Posted by: Jay at September 7, 2011 02:54 PM

The fact that the FBI hires a radical anti Zionist to handle secret information is not surprising. They have a long history of anti Israel,and anti Zionism.
Apparently the FBI interceded on his behalf when it came to sentencing. Twenty months for espionage is ridiculous. The traitor should have gotten 20 years.

Posted by: Julian Mannino at September 16, 2011 08:53 AM

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