WaPo’s Rubin Inaccurately Cites WSJ Article To Claim White House ‘Tolerates’ Syrian ‘Terror Operation’

Posted with the permission of Think Progress

The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin has a history of never missing an opportunity to criticize the White House, but her post today, “Obama tolerates terror operations run out of Syria’s embassy,” provides yet another example of Rubin’s loose relationship with the facts.

Today, Rubin, citing a Wall Street Journal article, is outraged that the Obama administration is “doing nothing” about claims that Syrian embassy officials are monitoring and photographing anti-Assad protesters in many countries, including the U.S. Rubin observes:

What has the administration done about protecting its own citizens and those already in peril in Syria? Well the FBI has investigated. But all we’ve done, as far as I can tell, is — you guessed it — taken “very seriously” these reports, according to a State Department flunky.

But that’s not what the WSJ article she cited reports:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, meanwhile, is investigating allegations that Mr. Moustapha and his staff have threatened or harmed Syrian-Americans, according to three individuals interviewed by the FBI in recent weeks. An FBI spokesman said the bureau won’t comment on any possible investigation into the Syrian embassy’s activities.

So while Rubin said the FBI “investigated” (past tense) the Syrian crackdown in the U.S., the Journal article — which provides the entire basis for her claim that the Obama administration is tolerating terrorists — says the FBI “is investigating” (present tense) the reports. Thus, it might be best for the White House to let the FBI conclude its investigation before it takes any action against the Syrian embassy.

With her post hinging on a falsehood — indeed the WSJ article would indicate that the Obama administration and the FBI are taking the allegations about the Syrian embassy very seriously — Rubin goes on to observe that “this suggest[s] a shocking dereliction of responsibility to protect our own citizens here at home” and concludes:

We sacrifice our own interests, our own citizens and other pro-democracy advocates for nothing. In the end, we lose respect, influence and our moral standing.

This stands as just one more example of Rubin’s willingness to overlook factual inaccuracies, but it begs the question of whether her interests lie with the protesters in Syria — who by all accounts are facing a horrifying crackdown — or launching attacks on the Obama administration at any and all opportunities.

Just last month, she was widely criticized for her faulty report that the massacre in Norway was the work of “jihadists.” She went on to use the deaths in Norway as an opportunity to attack politicians who support defense spending cuts and to denounce the White House for not taking the threat from al-Qaeda seriously.

Rubin’s factually inaccurate reporting and vicious partisanship is becoming a mainstay of the Washington Post’s “Right Turn” blog.

Her misreporting of the Oslo attack as the work of “jihadists” was left untouched for nearly a day. (She blamed her observance of Shabbat for her delay in correcting but the JTA’s Ron Kampeas raised suspicions about that explanation.) It will be interesting to see when, or if, her misrepresentation of the Obama administration’s investigation into the Syrian embassy will warrant a correction.

Eli Clifton

Eli Clifton reports on money in politics and US foreign policy. He is a co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Eli previously reported for the American Independent News Network, ThinkProgress, and Inter Press Service.



  1. You know, it’s fine if the WaPo wants to hire yet another far-right neoconservative Zionbot but at what point does the Ombudsman have a responsibility to the Post’s readers to rein in Rubin? Given the Ombudsman’s response to to her racist assumptions about who was behind the Norway attack, I guess he feels he has no responsibility to ensure factual reporting or commentary from Rubin and he rationalizes it by seeming to claim that the criticism of Rubin is based on little more than ideological disagreement with her.

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