Posted tagged ‘Washington Post’

Panic at the Washington Post

December 26, 2017

Panic at the Washington Post, Power LinePaul Mirengoff, December 25, 2017

The Washington Post is worried. The lead headline in today’s paper edition reads: “Mueller criticism grows to a clamor — FBI Conspiracy Claim Takes Hold — Driven by activists, GOP lawmakers, Trump tweets.”

Turnabout is fair play. Last year around this time, an honest newspaper could easily have written: “Trump criticism grows to a clamor — Russia Collusion Takes Hold — Driven by activists, Democratic lawmakers, leaks.”

A year ago, an honest newspaper could not have written that the Trump collusion criticism was driven by the FBI. The facts supporting such a headline were not known. Now we have good reason to suspect that the FBI was, in fact, advancing the collusion claim.

The FBI reportedly offered money to Christoper Steele to continue his work on the anti-Trump dossier (in testimony before Congress Rod Rosenstein refused to say whether the FBI paid or offered to pay for the dossier). The FBI may well have used information in the dossier to secure approval of surveillance efforts from the FISA court.

The FBI also helped push the dossier into the public’s consciousness. Its general counsel, James Baker, reportedly told reporter David Corn about the dossier, thus enabling Corn to write about it just before the election. And FBI director Comey briefed president-elect Trump on the dossier, which led to publication of its contents by BuzzFeed.

We also know about the quest of Peter Strzok, a high-level FBI man, for an “insurance policy” against a Trump presidency.

But let’s return to the Washington Post’s story about growing criticism of Mueller. The three distressed Post writers are less than fully open when it comes to informing readers what — other than activists, GOP lawmakers, and Trump tweets — is causing criticism of Mueller to grow to a clamor.

They acknowledge that it has something to do with Strzok’s role as Mueller’s former top investigator. However, they do their best to make Strzok seem innocuous.

The story introduces him by noting that he called Trump an “idiot” and predicted that Hillary Clinton would win the election in a landslide — statements that don’t distinguish him from tens of thousands of government employees and millions of other Americans. They also quote a former colleague of Strzok who says:

To think Pete could not do his job objectively shows no understanding of the organization. We have Democrats, we have Republicans, we have conservatives and liberals. . . . Having personal views doesn’t prevent us from independently following the facts.

The problem with peddling this happy narrative is that it ignores Strzok’s anti-Trump zeal, his obvious desire to impress his mistress, and his damning statement about the need for an “insurance policy” against Trump becoming president. The Post, in fact, never mentions that statement.

The Post also manages to ignore the hyper-partisan nature of Mueller’s staff, even excluding Strzok, whom he reassigned. There is a passing reference to Andrew Weissmann’s gushing note to Sally Yates praising her for her resistance to Trump, but no discussion of the ideologically one-sided composition of Team Mueller — a marked contrast to Ken Starr’s balanced staff.

Even with that diverse staff, Starr was successfully portrayed as spearheading a “vast right-wing conspiracy.” It’s not surprising that as more and more evidence emerges of bias within Mueller’s team, criticism mounts and takes hold.

Mueller himself is a Republican. But he is also a friend of James Comey, another fact the Post ignores. The steady stream of evidence of Comey’s anti-Trump animus and manipulative conduct has contributed to declining faith in Mueller.

And then, there’s the fact that Mueller appears to have come up empty so far on “collusion” by Trump. A prosecutor investigating a president is bound to lose credibility if, after an extended period of time, he neither produces evidence against the president nor exonerates him of the set of crimes that supposedly underlie the investigation.

A prosecutor who cannot credibly be accused of bias — either personal or within his team — buys himself time and patience from the public. Mueller is not that prosecutor.

In sum, the Post’s account of how Mueller lost the “near-universal support” he enjoyed earlier is shallow.

The Post’s story is significant, nonetheless. Clearly, the Post is concerned that, as it states, the growing criticism of Mueller “threatens to shadow his investigation’s eventual findings.”

It does, indeed. A recent Harvard poll found that 54 percent of voters believe that “as the former head of the FBI and a friend of James Comey,” Mueller has a conflict of interest in the proceedings. Meanwhile, only 35 percent believe that evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia has been found.

I’m sure Mueller believes his own press-clippings, but the public no longer does. The press, it seems, is beginning to realize this.

Hillary Clinton’s disingenuous dossier outrage

October 25, 2017

Hillary Clinton’s disingenuous dossier outrage, Washington PostCallum Borchers, October 25, 2017

(Please see also, The Hunt for Red November, about the Washington Post and possibly other leftist media outlets going “rogue” on Hillary Clinton. — DM)

 

The Washington Post’s Adam Entous looks at the role that Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee played in funding the research that led to a dossier containing allegations about President Trump’s links to Russia. (Video: Bastien Inzaurralde, Patrick Martin/Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

 

When BuzzFeed published that now-infamous dossier of unproven claims about Donald Trump and Russia, in January, former Hillary Clinton campaign aides expressed outrage that news outlets that had obtained the dossier before Election Day did not make its contents public in time to influence voters, and Clinton later aired the same grievance in her book about the presidential race.

It turns out that the reaction of the Democratic presidential nominee and her team was disingenuous. The Washington Post reported on Tuesday night that the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped fund the dossier, compiled by a former British intelligence officer, through a law firm hired to conduct opposition research.

The Clinton camp left out its own role in the dossier’s creation, as it ripped the media for sitting on information that journalists had been unable to verify. What Clinton and her advisers presented as their judgment that the media had made the wrong call was, in fact, their frustration at having failed to plant negative news reports before ballots were cast.

Recall that BuzzFeed published the dossier in full on Jan. 10, after CNN reported that the FBI had briefed President Barack Obama and then-President-elect Trump on its contents. Many journalists criticized BuzzFeed’s decision, arguing that news outlets should not spread claims they can’t corroborate, even if the FBI considers the claims significant enough to share with the president and his soon-to-be successor.

But Clinton press aides Brian Fallon and Nick Merrill contended, on Twitter, that the real journalistic malpractice was not publishing information contained in the dossier earlier.

This was long rumored during the campaign, and many reporters know at least some of what Russia was alleged to have https://twitter.com/jeneps/status/818943951185055744 

Today has brought a gush of reporting that outlets knew about and sat on prior to November 8
cc: @GlenCaplin1https://twitter.com/PaulBlu/status/818985935450894337 

I repeat: certain media outlets were told this prior to November 8.https://twitter.com/politicalwire/status/818987542527741952 

In fact, if we want to get specific, one outlet, a very very prominent outlet, threw cold water on this when Slate beat them to the punch. https://twitter.com/brianefallon/status/818987726133399552 

Merrill was referring to the New York Times, which reported on Oct. 31, 2016, that the FBI had “chased a lead — which they ultimately came to doubt — about a possible secret channel of email communication from the Trump Organization to a Russian bank.” Journalist Franklin Foer had reported on the possible secret channel in Slate earlier that day.

Also that day, Mother Jones magazine reported that a “former senior intelligence officer for a Western country” had “provided the [FBI] with memos, based on his recent interactions with Russian sources, contending the Russian government has for years tried to co-opt and assist Trump — and that the FBI requested more information from him.” The memos comprised the dossier that BuzzFeed later published.

Consistent with the Mother Jones report, the Times reported that “intelligence officials have said in interviews over the last six weeks that apparent connections between some of Mr. Trump’s aides and Moscow originally compelled them to open a broad investigation into possible links between the Russian government and the Republican presidential candidate.”

“Still,” the Times added, throwing the “cold water” Merrill spoke of, “they have said that Mr. Trump himself has not become a target. And no evidence has emerged that would link him or anyone else in his business or political circle directly to Russia’s election operations.”

Clinton complained about the Times report in her post-election book, “What Happened”:

In the summer of 2016, according to The Washington Post, the FBI convinced a special Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that there was probably cause to believe that Trump adviser Carter Page was acting as a Russian agent, and the received a warrant to monitor his communications. The FBI also began investigating a dossier prepared by a well-respected former British spy that contained explosive and salacious allegations about compromising information the Russians had on Trump. The intelligence community took the dossier seriously enough that it briefed both President Obama and President-elect Trump on its contents before the inauguration.

. . .

Sources within the FBI also convinced the New York Times to run a story saying they saw “no clear link to Russia,” countering Franklin Foer’s scoop in Slate about unusual computer traffic between Trump Tower and a Russian bank.

Note that Clinton described the dossier only as having been “prepared by a well-respected former British spy” — as if the spy, Christopher Steele, had acted on his own. Clinton certainly gave no indication that her campaign helped finance his work.

There is a fundamental contradiction here: Clinton wanted the dossier to be viewed as credible yet she did not want to be connected to it. She hoped the media, before Election Day, would publish claims about Trump to which she was unwilling to attach her own name.

Update: Appearing on CNN Wednesday morning, Fallon said he personally did not know that the Clinton campaign helped fund the dossier and said he was unsure whether Clinton did.

“How could you not know that the Clinton team was paying for it?” CNN’s John Berman asked. “And didn’t someone in the Clinton campaign know this?” 

“I’m sure that there’s a small group of folks that were aware,” Fallon replied, “but it was kept, for reasons that I can understand, to a very select group.”

According to Fallon, Clinton “may have known, but the degree of exactly what she knew is beyond my knowledge.”

Fallon might be right, but ignorance is a pretty weak excuse here. At minimum, some people within the campaign were aware of funding the dossier, yet the campaign allowed spokesmen and the candidate herself to make public statements that were misleading by omission.

No good deed goes unpunished for Israel

September 27, 2017

No good deed goes unpunished for Israel, American Thinker, Michael Berenhaus, September 27, 2017

Even the Syrians who were treated by Israel understand the situation better than the Post.  The article ended with this: “‘At first I was afraid, but then I saw that the treatment was superb,’ the 36-year-old woman said.  ‘We were told they are the enemy, but in reality, they are friends.'”

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Israel courts Syrians with humanitarian aid on border” (9/12/17) is yet another Washington Post article that tells a true, touching story yet spins it 180 degrees because of the paper’s antipathy toward Israel.  Israel takes in its neighbor’s war casualties and is vilified for the deed.  Talk about no good deed going unpunished! 

The article admits that “[m]ore than 600 Syrian children have been bused to Israeli hospitals for treatment in the past year.”  And “Israel has now treated more than 3,000 wounded Syrians, military officials say, though a Syrian medic on the other side of the border said the number traveling for care appeared to be higher.” 

But then there are the digs.  “Israeli officials stress the humanitarian aspect of the program, but it has another aim: to create a friendly zone just inside Syria as a bulwark against Israel’s arch enemy.”  The Washington Post provides no evidence to support this. 

The headline of the second page of the article on A13 reads, “Israeli aid to Syrians is humanitarian and strategic.”  But even according to the Post’s own reporting, “[i]t was in 2013, Israeli military officials say, when the first Syrians approached the Israeli fence on the Golan Heights.”  The Post provides no evidence that contradicts Israel’s official report.  The Post then adds its own spin by saying Israel’s motive for helping the wounded was “strategic.”  In a court of law, such conjecture would be deemed inadmissible.  Further, if the Syrians initiated the plea for help, what does that say about the motivations of the Israeli people?

According to the Post, “Israel has transferred 360 tons of food, nearly 120,000 gallons of gasoline, 90 pallets of drugs and 50 tons of clothing as well as generators, water piping and building material, the IDF says.”  Israel also has given supplies and medical care in areas ranging from as far away as Haiti and most recently Florida (See here.)  Was this also strategic?

 Moreover, is this reporting of Israel consistent with how The Washington Post reports on other countries providing humanitarian aid or disaster assistance?  Or does The Washington Post single out Israel when it comes to this sort of critique?  Without a doubt, the latter!

The Washington Post can’t help but be negative on Israel.  The Post states, “Israel has been in a state of war with its northern neighbor [Syria] for nearly 70 years.”  Hardly!  The truth: Syria and most surrounding Arab or Muslim nations have been at war with Israel for nearly 70 years.

Israel can’t get a break at The Washington Post.  Israel is less than 1% of the Middle East, and the moment it declared independence in 1948, five Arab armies and the local Arabs, now known as Palestinians, attacked the nascent Jewish state with the goal of genocide.  And they didn’t hide that goal!  They bragged about the impending genocide.  Fortunately, the Jewish state won.  Had it not, it would have meant back-to-back Holocausts for the Jewish people.

The Post described a seven-year old girl whose mother said a Syrian “local commander told them to go to Israel” for treatment.  Does this sound like a plot hatched by Israel for disingenuous reasons?

Even the Syrians who were treated by Israel understand the situation better than the Post.  The article ended with this: “‘At first I was afraid, but then I saw that the treatment was superb,’ the 36-year-old woman said.  ‘We were told they are the enemy, but in reality, they are friends.'”

 

Trump Campaign Repeatedly Rejected Efforts to Set Up Russia Meetings

August 15, 2017

Trump Campaign Repeatedly Rejected Efforts to Set Up Russia Meetings, Power LinePaul Mirengoff, August 14, 2017

What about Paul Manafort, supposedly a key player in the alleged collusion? The Post says he expressed concern about meetings with Russian officials and, as campaign chairman, rejected a May 2016 proposal that such a meeting take place.

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The Washington Post reports that in 2016, a new member of the Trump foreign policy advisory committee sent emails to the Trump campaign urging that the candidate meet with top Russian leaders including Putin, but that the campaign repeatedly rejected this suggestion. The Post’s report is based on emails that it says were “read to The Post by a person with access to them.”

The foreign policy adviser in question is George Papadopoulos, described by the Post as “a campaign volunteer with scant foreign policy experience.” According to the Post, between March and September of 2016, he sent at least a half-dozen requests for Trump or members of his team to meet with Russian officials.

The campaign’s response is bad news for those who claim that Trump colluded with Russia. According to the Post:

Campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis wrote that he thought NATO allies should be consulted before any plans were made. Another Trump adviser, retired Navy Rear Adm. Charles Kubic, cited legal concerns, including a possible violation of U.S. sanctions against Russia and of the Logan Act, which prohibits U.S. citizens from unauthorized negotiation with foreign governments.

What about Paul Manafort, supposedly a key player in the alleged collusion? The Post says he expressed concern about meetings with Russian officials and, as campaign chairman, rejected a May 2016 proposal that such a meeting take place.

The Post argues that “the internal resistance to Papadopoulos’s requests is at odds with other overtures Trump allies were making toward Russia at the time, mostly at a more senior level of the campaign.” Not really. Reading the two sets of emails I believe the Post has in mind — the ones involving Papadopoulos and the ones involving Donald Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer — the logical conclusion is that Team Trump was not interested in making overtures to, or negotiating with, the Kremlin, but was willing to check out information harmful to Hillary Clinton provided by Russian sources, including ones with possible ties to the Kremlin.

The first position is exactly what one would hope for and expect. The second should not shock anyone’s conscience.

It seems to me that if the Trump campaign wanted to collude with Russia, as opposed to simply reviewing “dirt” on Clinton provided by Russians, it would have been eager to meet with top Russian officials including Putin. The emails reportedly show a decided lack of interest in such meetings by top campaign officials.

It’s possible that the candidate himself was interested in overtures, negotiations, or some other form of collusion with the Russians. It’s even possible that he did these things through back channels. But there doesn’t seem to be any evidence to support this speculation. And the fact his campaign managers appear not to have believed Trump had any interest in such endeavors cuts against claims of collusion.

Thus, the Post’s story, which it bills with the headline “Trump campaign emails show aide’s repeated efforts to set up Russia meetings,” seems like a significant setback for the Russia collusion story.

The Washington Post Swings and Misses at Jeff Sessions

July 22, 2017

The Washington Post Swings and Misses at Jeff Sessions, Power LinePaul Mirengoff, July 21, 2017

The Post’s sources clearly are out to get Sessions. It’s anyone’s guess whether they are accurately characterizing what the ambassador told his government and the reliability of what he told it.

In any event, the Post and its sources have failed to identify any contradiction between Sessions’s statements about his interaction with the ambassador and what the ambassador supposedly told the Russians about the interaction.

*************************************

The Washington Post claims that Attorney General Sessions’ statements about what he discussed with the Russian ambassador are at odds with reports by the ambassador to his government about what he and Sessions discussed. The Post relies on, you guessed it, “current and former U.S. officials.”

But the Post fails to describe a contradiction between what Sessions has said and what the Russian ambassador supposedly reported. Here are the only statements by Sessions cited by the Post and its sources as problematic:

I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign.

I don’t recall any discussion of the campaign in any significant way.

I never met with or had any conversation with any Russians or foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election in the United States.

Here is the Post’s description of what the Russian ambassador told the government:

A former official said that the intelligence indicates that Sessions and Kislyak had “substantive” discussions on matters including Trump’s positions on Russia-related issues and prospects for U.S.-Russia relations in a Trump administration.

Maybe. But even someone with average skill in reading and logic would understand that this description is not inconsistent with Sessions’ denial that he did not discuss the campaign with the ambassador.

It stands to reason that Sessions might discuss Russia-related issues with the Russian ambassador. And Russia-related issues are also campaign-related issues in the sense that Russia was an issue in the campaign.

But what Sessions denied was that he discussed the campaign and any interference by Russia with it. The denial was important because, at the time Sessions made it, the issue Washington fixated on was whether Team Trump sought or knew about Russian help for the candidate, or coordinated with Russia regarding the campaign.

The Post’s piece, by Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima, and Greg Miller, is dishonest. It finds a contradiction where none exists by glossing over the distinction between discussing a “campaign-related issue” — which is any substantive issue raised by any candidate during the campaign season — and discussing the campaign.

Discussing hacking or “opposition research” research with the Russian ambassador would constitute discussing the campaign. Telling the ambassador how the campaign is going or what its strategy is would constituted discussing the campaign. Telling the ambassador — as President Obama told the Russian president — that the candidate would be more flexible with Russia after the campaign would probably be a borderline case.

Simply discussing Russia policy — past, present, or future — is not discussing the campaign.

There is also the question of whether the Russian ambassador was telling his government the truth. The Post admits that “the Russian ambassador could have mischaracterized or exaggerated the nature of his interactions” with Sessions. It notes: “Russian and other foreign diplomats in Washington and elsewhere have been known, at times, to report false or misleading information to bolster their standing with their superiors or to confuse U.S. intelligence agencies.”

The Post adds, however, that the Russian ambassador “has a reputation for accurately relaying details about his interactions with officials in Washington.” Maybe. But I’m not inclined to take the word of the “deep state” on this. I suspect there are “current and former officials” who would grant the Russian ambassador sainthood if it meant embarrassing the Trump administration.

The Post’s sources clearly are out to get Sessions. It’s anyone’s guess whether they are accurately characterizing what the ambassador told his government and the reliability of what he told it.

In any event, the Post and its sources have failed to identify any contradiction between Sessions’s statements about his interaction with the ambassador and what the ambassador supposedly told the Russians about the interaction.

President Trump in Poland

July 6, 2017

President Trump in Poland, Power LinePaul Mirengoff, July 6, 2017

President Trump’s visit to Poland — a great U.S. ally and a nation with strong personal links to ours — has become the latest pretext for Trump bashing by the U.S. media. The Washington Post (paper edition) tells us, darkly, that Trump “shares ideological affinities” with Poland’s right-wing ruling party. In particular, he shares its aversion to immigration by Muslims and its combative relationship with the press.

The Post also suggests that the visit is a slap in the face of European allies, especially Germany, who are estranged to some degree from the current Polish government. In addition, it tells us that Trump picked Poland because the ruling party will be able to bus in cheering crowds from rural areas. The folks in Warsaw are too sophisticated to like Trump, the Post assures its readers.

Thus, Trump’s visit to Poland serves as a perfect confluence of anti-Trump talking points. He’s a right-winger; he’s anti-Muslim; he’s anti-free press, he’s against the European alliance; he depends on rubes for support; he’s an egomaniac in search of adoring crowds.

But one key anti-Trump talking point cannot be enlisted — the bogus Trump-Putin collaboration theme. As the Post gets around to acknowledging, grudgingly, very late in its story:

Poland also remains a strategically critical European nation that is particularly sensitive to the threat of rising Russian power. Despite Trump’s efforts to pursue warmer relations with Putin, the Polish government expressed optimism that Trump remains committed to the security of Central and Eastern Europe.

“It’s important that the president will be there and he will hopefully confirm again the U.S. commitment to NATO and to our cooperation,” said Piotr Wilczek, Poland’s ambassador to the United States. “For us, his visit to Poland before meeting with President Putin sends a very strong message.”. . .

“Poles were really afraid that it would be President Trump having a very successful summit with President Putin and sitting at the table together with Putin and making divisions or [establishing] a new order for this part of the world — that was a real threat here,” said Michal Kobosko, director of the Atlantic Council’s Warsaw office. “This has not materialized yet, so Poles are looking with some optimism toward Trump.

(Emphasis added)

Actually, the opposite seems to be materializing. In the speech President Trump delivered today in Poland, he reaffirmed the bond between the United States and its European allies, calling their pact as “strong as ever.”

In fact, he expressly affirmed his commitment to Article 5, the collective security provision of the NATO treaty. Trump stated: “The United States has demonstrated not merely with words, but with its actions, that we stand firmly behind Article 5, the mutual defense commitment.”

These are the magic words, the absence from which in some Trump speeches has given the mainstream media fits. Yet, its presence in this speech doesn’t get a mention until the back half of the Post’s story.

In addition, Trump rebuked Russia:

We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing activities in the Ukraine and elsewhere and its support for hostile regimes, including Syria and Iran, and instead join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies and defense of civilization itself.

This too isn’t mentioned until relatively late in the Post’s report. By then, the Post has complained about the speech’s “dark nationalism,” the supposed Trump rift with Germany, and even his unwillingness to say with certainty that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

The “darkness” of Trump’s speech is actually its virtue. Trump stated:

The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive. Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?

If Trump’s critics were serious about countering Russia and defending Europe, they would be asking the same questions (with the possible exception of the one about immigration, at least as applied to the U.S.). The left can’t have it both ways. It can’t be the case both that no one is out to subvert or destroy our civilization and that we must maintain our commitment to defending Europe, while obsessing over the Russian threat.

And after the Poland visit, it can’t be the case that Trump is under the sway of Putin. It’s still early in his presidency, but so far Trump is, I think, the hardest-line U.S. president on Russia/the Soviet Union since Ronald Reagan.

President Obama was the least hard-line.

Hugh Fitzgerald: No Room at the Inn for an Iftar Dinner

June 26, 2017

Hugh Fitzgerald: No Room at the Inn for an Iftar Dinner, Jihad Watch

The Washington Post has reported — drop a ready tear — that there will be no Iftar Dinner this year in the White House:

For the first time in nearly two decades, Ramadan has come and gone without the White House recognizing it with an iftar or Eid celebration, as had taken place each year under the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations.

And the article by Amy Wang attempts to suggest that the “tradition” of the Iftar Dinner goes all the way back to Thomas Jefferson who, as is well known, was asked by a visiting Muslim envoy of the Bey of Tunis, one Sidi Soliman Mellimelli,  to postpone the dinner to which Jefferson had invited him, along with others, until after sundown, which Jefferson, as a matter of courtesy, did.

The Post continues:

Jefferson’s decision to change the time of the meal to accommodate Mellimelli’s [the envoy from the Bey of Tunis] observance of Ramadan has been seized on by both sides in the 21st-century debate over Islam more than 200 years later. Historians have cited the meal as the first time an iftar took place in the White House — and it has been referenced in recent White House celebrations of Ramadan as an embodiment of the Founding Father’s respect for religious freedom. Meanwhile, critics on the far right have taken issue with the characterization of Jefferson’s Dec. 9, 1805, dinner as an iftar.

Notice how in the Post article it is “historians” (disinterested, authoritative, not to be doubted) who cite that 1805 meal as the first Iftar dinner in the White House,  while those who deny that the meal was an “Iftar dinner” are described as being on the “far right,” apparently for no other reason than that very denial.

What actually happened is clear for those without an insensate need to make Islam, as Barack Obama has repeatedly  claimed it was, “always part of America’s story.” And you can be as left-wing as all get out, and still recognize that Jefferson was not putting on an Iftar dinner. A little history will help:  Mellimelli came to Washington as the envoy of the Bey of Tunis. The Americans had blockaded the port of Tunis, in order to force the Bey to halt his attacks on American shipping. Mellimelli was sent to make an agreement that would end the blockade. Invited by Jefferson to a dinner at the White House set for 3:30 (dinners were earlier in those pre-Edison days of our existence), he requested that it be held after sundown, in accordance with his Muslim practice, and Jefferson, a courteous man, obliged him. There is no hint that the dinner had changed in any way; no one then called it, or thought of it, as an “Iftar dinner.” Mellimelli himself did not describe it as an “Iftar dinner.” There is no record of it being anything other than the exact same dinner, the same menu, with wine (no removal of alcohol as would be necessary were it a real Iftar dinner), the only change being that of the three-hour delay until sunset. Nothing Jefferson said or did at the time, or in his later writings,  indicates that he thought of that delayed dinner as an “Iftar dinner”; nor did he think he was in any way honoring Islam.

In fact, Jefferson had a very dim view of Islam, which came out of his experience in dealing with the Barbary Pirates, that is, the North African Muslims (in Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli), who attacked Christian shipping and seized ships and Christian sailors, and then demanded ransom. The sums were not trivial; the American Republic found itself spending 20% of its national budget on such payments. These continued until Jefferson became President, stopped the practice of paying such tribute, and instead made war on the Barbary Pirates. And that worked.

In 1786, years before he became president, Jefferson, along with John Adams, met with the Tripolitanian envoy Sidi Haji Abdrahaman in London.  Perhaps by then Jefferson had read the Qur’an he had purchased in 1765 out of curiosity (no one knows how much of that Qur’an Jefferson  may have read, or when, though some Muslim apologists have baselessly claimed he must have bought his Qur’an out of sympathetic interest in Islam.) If he did read it,  it would have helped him to understand the motivations of the North African Muslims. Certainly by the time he became President in 1801, he was determined not to negotiate with the Barbary Pirates, but to implacably oppose with force these Muslims whom, he knew from his encounter with Abdrahaman in London, were permanently hostile to all non-Muslims.

In London, Jefferson and Adams had queried the Tripolitanian ambassador “concerning the ground of the pretensions to make war upon nations who had done them no injury” for the Americans had done nothing to deserve being attacked, and the ambassador replied, as Jefferson reported:

“It was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise.”

And later, Jefferson reported to Secretary of State John Jay and to Congress at greater length, with a nearly identical quote from the ambassador:

“The ambassador answered us that [the right] was founded on the Laws of the Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have answered their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Mussulman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.”

These reports do not sound as if they came from someone who thought well of Islam. The more dealings Jefferson had with the representatives of the Barbary states, and the more he learned from them directly of the tenets of the faith, the more he began to understand the aggressive nature of Islam, the centrality of Jihad, the inculcation of permanent hostility toward non-Muslims, and the heavenly reward for Jihadis slain in battle.

The Iftar dinner “tradition” begins not with Jefferson in 1805, and that three-hour delay in a meal that was otherwise unchanged, but with our latter-day interfaith outreach presidents — Clinton, Bush, Obama — each of whom, in his own way, has managed to ignore or misinterpret the texts and teachings of Islam.

That “tradition” of Iftar dinners in the White House is less than 20 years old, as compared with the other “tradition,” ten times as long, that is, the 200 years of Iftar-less presidencies. That short-lived “tradition”  has been ended, for now, by an administration that, for all of its self-inflicted wounds and woes in other areas, continues to exhibit a better sense of what Islam, foreign and domestic, is all about, than its predecessors, and has no desire to obliquely honor it.

The interfaith outreach farce that the Iftar Dinner at the White House embodies, honoring Islam — while, all over the world, every day brings fresh news of Muslim atrocities against non-Muslims, more than 30,000 such attacks since 9/11/2001 alone, not to mention attacks as well  against other Muslims deemed either of the wrong sect, or insufficient in the fervor of their faith — now comes to an end, if only for four years. That is certainly what Jefferson (and John Adams, and that most profound presidential student of Islam, John Quincy Adams), if not The Washington Post, would have wanted.

And since John Quincy Adams has been mentioned, why doesn’t The Washington Post take it upon itself to share with its readers what that most scholarly of our presidents wrote about Islam. It does not date. And it might prove most instructive.