Why Brian Ross of ABC News Needs to be Fired

Can the president kill U.S. citizens at will? Can the CIA? Do these questions deserve “mulling over” Mr. Ross?

by Scott Creighton

Brian Ross is at it again. Someone call Glenn Greenwald.

In an article posted on ABC News this morning, Brian Ross seems to be up to his old tricks, helping the dangerous imperialist agenda of yet another White House administration. This time, his facts are even hollower than the last while the implications are far more dangerous to our civil liberties and even our lives.

 Right on the front page of ABC News is a headline which reads… U.S. Mulls Legality of Killing American al Qaeda “Turncoat”.  The basic question seems to be whether or not President Obama can kill U.S. citizens at will. Even more distressing, they seem to be asking whether or not NSA types can assassinate U.S. citizens even without so much as a presidential order to do so. Can you say “plausible deniability”?

Effectively what we are talking about are “death squads”; official organizations carrying out extrajudicial killings of U.S. citizens who have been officially accused of committing no crimes what-so-ever.

As outrageous as this is, Brian Ross gives the matter an air of acceptability in his article, he doesn’t even seem to be questioning the legality of it all.

Not only that but the winner of the 2003 George Polk award for “journalistic integrity and investigative reporting”, by omitting certain very important facts from his story and openly contradicting already recognized facts that he himself reported on not 2 months ago, he appears to be aiding the administration in building an argument for the sanctioned killing of U.S. citizens.

According to the people who were briefed on the issue, American officials fear the possibility of criminal prosecution without approval in advance from the White House for a targeted strike against AwlakiABC News

The “possiblity” of criminal prosecutions for killing U.S. citizens “without approval in advance from the White House”? Why would Ross even consider the possibility that there wouldn’t be prosecutions and what difference does it make if Obama sanctioned it or not?  A seated U.S. president does not have the authority to kill U.S. citizens just because he wants to. Period. End of story. But there is certainly no way that an agency (say like the CIA) has the authority do it acting on their own. What kind of bizzaro world is Brian Ross helping to set up here?

Let’s remember that Brian Ross has been a Vichy reporter embedded in the MSM for quite a while now. His collaboration with war-criminal regimes goes way back. Glenn Greenwald has done some of the most important real investigative journalism to help expose this propaganda expert for what he really is; a traitor. There’s just no other way to put it.

IN 2007, Brian Ross was a key supporter of the criminal Bush administration’s torture program by constantly lying over and over again about the details of the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah.  He said it lasted 30 seconds. Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times.  As Glenn Greenwald points out, Brian Ross had done same glossing over of the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed from 2005 to 2008 claiming that he had given everything up after only two and a half minutes of torture when in fact Mohammed had been waterboarded waterboarded 183 times in one month alone. Not only that, but Ross then helped the criminal torture programs image by helping to spread the disinformation that these torture sessions prevented future attacks. He only made that claim on Fox News where he knew the audience would be a little more receptive, and he also prefaced the “factoid” by claiming “yes. That’s what we were told by sources.”   No clarification as to who those “sources” were.

The importance and the effects of Brian Ross’s investigative reporting on the subject of torture was explained by Glenn Greenwald this way;

This claim that Mohammed lasted less than 3 minutes before confessing everything was repeatedly cited on CNN, MSNBC and by other news outlets and countless pundits as proof that (a) waterboarding works to save American lives; (b) it works almost immediately; and therefore (c) it is hard to call it “torture” since it only lasts for seconds.  Indeed, Ross’ report was cited to bolster one of the central arguments made by those who insisted that waterboarding could not be “torture” because individuals are subjected to it for such a short duration.  Yet all along, Ross’ report about Mohammed — like his report about Zubaydah — was based on nothing more than his mindless recitation of what unnamed Bush administration sources whispered to him about Mohammed’s interrogation treatment, and it was false from start to finishGlenn Greenwald

But then, Brian Ross the journalist-collaborator had been spreading lies on behalf of the Bush administration for quite awhile prior to the torture scandal as well as refusing to name his White House sources when those outright lies were exposed. It’s one thing to deliberately report misinformation as news, but when that misinformation is exposed and the reason for it seems clear to be as a justification for an illegal war, a reporter’s right to protect his sources fades to the need to protect the American citizens from future harm. Yet ABC News and Brian Ross still refuse to this day to disclose who fed him lies to help justify an illegal war of aggression.

Using that method, Brian Ross, of course, was responsible for the widespread and completely false reports in October and November, 2001 that government tests on anthrax resulted in a finding of bentoninte, which — Ross breathlessy said over and over — was a key sign that the anthrax attacks came from Saddam Hussein.  Glenn Greenwald

 There are two vital questions that ABC News should answer:

(1) How can ABC News just let these Saddam-anthrax reports — as false as they were consequential — remain uncorrected and unexplained, even through today?

(2) More importantly, Ross claimed at the time, and there is no reason to doubt it, that these false reports — clearly designed to blame Iraq for the anthrax attacks in the eyes of Americans — were fed to him by “at least four well-placed sources.” Who were the well-placed, multiple sources feeding ABC News completely fictitious claims linking Saddam Hussein to the anthrax attacks, including false claims about the results of government tests? What possible justification is there for concealing the identity of those who manipulated ABC to disseminate these fictitious claims?  Glenn Greenwald

Greenwald goes on to detail just how influential Brian Ross’s often repeated lies about Saddam’s connection to the anthrax attacks were. Not only did Ross run around parroting his “intel” on Fox News, but he was clearly very instrumental in getting progressive types to get behind the war as well. You see, if you are going to run a COINTELPRO program you can’t just target the right-wing pro-war crowd. That’s easy. The real challenge is that you have to garner support among the anti-interventionalists as well. That’s where “liberal” war-monger collaborators come into play. This is a key role to fill as evidenced by Brian Ross’s continued support of every single war possibility that comes across his desk. Including Iran. And of course Brian Ross went back to his same old bag of tricks to gin up support for that pending war as well.

I had what I consider to be an illuminating discussion this morning with Jeffrey Schneider, Senior Vice President of ABC News, concerning the story published (and broadcast) by ABC’s Brian Ross and Christopher Isham on Monday. That story claimed that “Iran has more than tripled its ability to produce enriched uranium in the last three months” and therefore “Iran could have enough material for a nuclear bomb by 2009.”

My principal criticism of the ABC story was that it was exclusively predicated on what ABC vaguely described only as “sources familiar with the dramatic upgrade.” It did not include a single other piece of information about the identity of the “sources” who were making such dramatic, consequential, and potentially war-inflaming claims…

Schneider began by explaining that decisions about the use of anonymous sources in a story such as this one are “approved at very high levels” at ABC News. The sources for this specific story are, he claimed, ones with whom ABC has a “long relationship” and are ones they “find credible.” He said that both ABC News itself and these specific reporters have proven “over a very long period of time” that they are reliable and credible journalists… Glenn Greenwald

Three remarkable instances (1. the justification of illegal torture, 2. the promotion of an illegal war of aggression against Iraq, and 3. the attempt to create an atmosphere conducive to the invasion of Iran) where ABC News acclaimed “journalist” Brian Ross deliberately spread false information and outright lies to the American public based on nothing more than his claim of “anonymous sources told me so”.

This is the resume of one Brian Ross; award winning “journalist” for ABC News as expertly exposed by a real journalist, Glenn Greenwald.

Now lets get back to todays article.

In todays article which is apparently attempting to legitimize the president’s authority to kill U.S. citizens at will, Brian Ross quotes the following sources: “a former U.S. official familiar with the case“, “One of the people briefed“, ” two people briefed by U.S. intelligence officials“, “law enforcement officials“.

Not one single source named in Brian Ross’s piece of “investigative journalism”. Not one. But I guess that is ok as that Jeffrey Scheider has already said that the use of such secretive sources is just fine and dandy with the ABC News leadership and it has been for quite sometime.

Perhaps even more damning is the fact that Mr. Ross seems to have forgotten how to do any investigations at all; well that is, aside from parroting what his secret sources tell him to parrot.

Forgotten in Mr. Ross’s article are a couple very important facts about the case of Anwar Awlaki. It would seem that Mr. Ross’s secret sources simply forgot them or perhaps they don’t fit in with the overall jest of the article that suggests there is some kind of debate as to whether or not a president can kill U.S. citizens at will. More amazing still is the fact that many of these facts that Mr. Ross seems to have forgotten, were actually reported on by Mr. Ross himself.

Those facts that Mr. Ross left out:

1. The President has already attempted to kill Anwar Awlaki.

A week after U.S. and Yemeni officials said the radical Yemen cleric Anwar Awlaki may have been killed in a U.S.-backed Christmas eve air strike, a Yemeni journalist says Awlaki has surfaced to proclaim, “I’m alive.” Brian Ross

The Yemeni government has confirmed that today’s US-backed air strike was aimed at assassinating US-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, and officials speculated that he might have been slain in the attack. Raw Story

2. The attempted assassination killed 23 children and 17 women by mistake.

Along with the two U.S. cruise missile attacks, Yemen security forces carried out raids in three separate locations. As many as 120 people were killed in the three raids, according to reports from Yemen, and opposition leaders said many of the dead were innocent civiliansABC News/Brian Ross

3. They didn’t miss Anwar Awlaki because of “legal questions” they missed him because he wasn’t there.

He said the house that was attacked was two or three kilometers away from him and he was not there,” the journalist, Abdulelah Hider Shaea, told ABC News.  Brian Ross

4. Anwar Awlaki is not “part of the leadership of the al Qaeda group in Yemen behind a series of terror strikes“.

Awlaki denies he is part of al Qaeda and told the Yemeni journalistBrian Ross

Abdulelah Hider Shaea, a Yemeni journalist who studies Al Qaeda and knows Mr. Awlaki, denied in an interview that the imam was a member of Al Qaeda, saying instead that he served as an articulate window to jihadism for English speakers.  New York Times

5. Emails between Maj. Hasan and Mr. Awlaki were reported to be harmless and in the scope of Maj. Hasan’s work at Ft. Hood

The intercepts “raised no red flags,” with no mention of threats or violence that would have triggered a U.S. terrorism investigation, senior investigative officials said Monday.

According to the FBI, investigators from one of its Joint Terrorism Task Forces determined “that the content of those communications was consistent with research being conducted by Maj. Hasan in his position as a psychiatrist at the Walter Reed Medical Center [in Washington].” CNN

Clearly these links are not to fringe news sites. They are to the New York Times, CNN, and mainly to Brian Ross and ABC News. There is no excuse for Brian Ross to have left mention of these facts out of an article dealing with such a controversial and potentially dangerous topic as this. Ross himself reported on many of this facts that he deliberately left out or contradicted in this new article.

All that said, the worst part is yet to come. The final sentance in Brian Ross’s yellow journalism piece reads as follows. I don’t need to expand on it any more than simply to quote it. Form your own opinions as to what is implied.

Hundreds of FBI and other federal agents will fan out this week as part of a secret operation to pursue leads about Americans with connections to Yemen that were previously dismissed as not significant, according to law enforcement officials.  Brian Ross

3 Responses

  1. Hello there. Right work. I does not expect this for a Wednesday. This is a good story. Thanks!

  2. i always thought that ABC news is even better than CNN when delivering up to date news`-“

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