WASHINGTON, DC: On October 21, 2010, the Center for Security Policy sent urgent alert notices to Juan Williams, news analyst for Fox News and recently fired news analyst for National Public Radio (NPR); Vivian Schiller, President and CEO, NPR; Roger Ailes, President, Fox News Channel; Bill O’Reilly, Fox News Channel; and the Inspector General of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), regarding a possible violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), warning that they may have been the target of an influence operation by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) which resulted in the firing of Williams.
On October 18 on the Fox News program “The O’Reilly Factor,” Williams stated “I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.” Two days later on October 20, CAIR issued a press release calling on NPR to take action against Williams. CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad called Williams’ comments “irresponsible and inflammatory” and complained that “media commentators who launch rhetorical attacks on Islam and Muslims normally do not suffer the professional consequences.” CAIR’s Awad called on NPR to “address” Williams’ statements. NPR publicly announced the termination of Williams’ contract the following day, October 21.
Center for Security Policy President Frank J. Gaffney Jr. said, “CAIR’s position that journalists like Williams should normally ‘suffer the professional consequences’ apparently created a hostile climate which may have led to Williams’ firing. Since CAIR’s beginnings in 1994, they have conducted targeted influence operations in the U.S. attempting to censor any criticism of Islam, jihad, and Islamic Shariah law. Their targets have included dozens of reporters, elected officials and ordinary citizens, but they have never registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.”
The Center’s CAIR Observatory project tracks CAIR’s apparent violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The FARA states that organizations paid by a foreign principal to engage in activities to “influence any agency or official of the Government of the United States or any section of the public within the United States” must register as a foreign agent and report such activity to the Department of Justice. CAIR has never registered.
CAIR received $325,000 from the Saudi Arabia-based Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to demand opposition to speech that they consider “Islamophobic.” The OIC’s “Ten Year Plan” calls on the U.S. government and other nations to enact laws “including deterrent punishments” to counter this so-called “Islamophobic” speech. The U.S. government funds NPR, which fired Williams, through Corporation for Public Broadcasting grants.
According to Gaffney, “The foreign payment of $325,000 to CAIR, and the OIC ‘Ten Year Plan’ guidance to CAIR to demand ‘deterrent punishments’ – or as CAIR’s Nihad Awad put it, ‘professional consequences’ – appear to have directed CAIR’s influence operation targeting NPR, which may have led to NPR firing Williams.”
The CAIR Observatory project documents CAIR’s receipt of $6.6 million in contributions and $54.5 million in pledges from foreign principals in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iran, over 40 cases of meetings and coordination with those principals, and nearly 100 influence operations against government agencies, military and law enforcement, elected officials, candidates, media outlets and private corporations.
Alert notices were sent to Juan Williams, Vivian Schiller, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, and the CPB Inspector General on October 21st, and formal notifications will be sent on October 22nd. Copies of this correspondence will be provided to the Department of Justice’s Counterespionage Section in the National Security Division, which is responsible for enforcing FARA and prosecuting violations of that act.