Latest Wikileaks Revelation: American Diplomats Years Behind Reason Magazine


Back in 2002 and 2003, former Reason editor Charles Paul Freund was arguing that it was pop culture, not heavy-handed propaganda, that would ultimately promote liberalization in the Arab world. If you haven't read Freund's brilliant essay "In Praise of Vulgarity," do so right now (and his equally fantastic essay on the liberating power of Arab pop videos). And now we discover, according to cables revealed by Wikileaks, that it took American diplomats in the Middle East years to figure out what Reason readers long knew. From The Guardian:

Satellite broadcasts of the US TV shows Desperate Housewives and Late Show With David Letterman are doing more to persuade Saudi youth to reject violent jihad than hundreds of millions of dollars of US government propaganda, informants have told the American embassy in Jeddah.

Broadcast uncensored and with Arabic subtitles alongside sitcoms such as Friends on Saudi Arabia's MBC 4 channel, the shows are being allowed as part of the kingdom's "war of ideas" against extremist elements. According to a secret cable titled "David Letterman: Agent of Influence", they have been proving more effective than Washington's main propaganda tool, the US-funded al-Hurra TV news channel….

"It's still all about the war of ideas here, and the American programming on MBC and Rotana [a channel part-owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation] is winning over ordinary Saudis in a way that al-Hurra and other US propaganda never could," two Saudi media executives told a US official in a meeting at a Jeddah branch of Starbucks. "Saudis are now very interested in the outside world and everybody wants to study in the US if they can. They are fascinated by US culture in a way they never were before," the May 2009 cable says.

The popularity of the channels is particularly surprising given Rotana broadcasts Fox News, the rightwing News Corp channel that takes a hard line against Islamic radicalism and has strongly supported US military intervention in the Middle East.

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  1. A couple years back, I wrote Dee Snider and asked him to remake, shot for shot, the “We’re not gonna take it” video only with Mark Metcalf playing a greybeard Imam.

    What’s this on your prayer rug? Twisted Sister? WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO WITH YOUR LIFE???

    And then have the young male stand up and say “I wanna rock!” and then we go to the boys doing what they do. Maybe have a meedley meedley meedley guitar solo with the Imam crabwalking backwards from the pure rock pointing directly at him.

    Sadly, Dee never wrote me back.

    1. I wonder if the Emminem video with the Osama Bin Laden character gets a lot of play over there.

    2. It would have worked better if it had been I Wanna Rock, renamed “I Want Iraq”… Mark Metcalf was in that one, too.

      1. ^
        He’s an altruistic pervert.

  2. I remember that shortly after we (and the Northern Alliance) kicked the Taliban out of power in Afghanistan, “Titanic” haircuts (e.g., the haircut DiCaprio had in the movie) were once again allowed. And apparently, there was much rejoicing.

  3. Isn’t it more likely one of them ended up reading something by Freund and decided to find evidence it was happening rather than being intelligent enough to come up with an original observation? These are government officials after all.

  4. Sweden has arrested the person who hacked Visa, Mastercard and PayPal in retaliation of the Assange arrest. It’s a 16-year-old kid. Moreover, the City of Berkeley is planning on giving an award to Bradley Manning,the PFC who stole the files. 16-year-olds, the city of Berkeley and Reason. It’s a veritable leftist trifecta.

    1. Yes, because not sucking the government’s cock and letting it keep whatever secrets it wants is a leftist position.

      Are you really this stupid?

      1. sucking the government’s cock

        Dude (may I call you Dude?), you really need to get some new material.

        Hugs and kisses,

        1. Wow, thanks for the advice, Kimberly; I’m sure I’ll take it with all the importance it deserves. Maybe you could come up with some material of your own?

          1. I heard he doesn’t smell like shit all day

            1. I heard he doesn’t smell like shit all day

              Not that he doesn’t take it on the chin all day.

        2. Don’t sweat it K, this is Epi’s hobby or something. He has to attack everyone who doesn’t agree with him.

          It’s for the children, or something.

          1. He is relentlessly dogmatic about accusing everyone else of being dogmatic.

            1. “Manning,the PFC who stole the files. 16-year-olds, the city of Berkeley and Reason. It’s a veritable leftist trifecta.”

              That’s what I love about hangin’ out at Hit & Run–it’s the only place where I can get lumped in with leftists and called a right wing parrot all in the same day.

              Hell, I’ve had that happen all in the same thread!

              1. Variety is the spice of life, my friend…

                1. Yes it is. I didn’t say I didn’t like him. I just said what he was.

                  1. My comment was actually in response to Ken’s comment (damn these threaded comments!) but I suppose it works in response to your comment as well.

                    1. Nah. You fucked up.

      2. You do have to admire TEAM RED’s consistency in their love of authority. The hate WikiLeaks despite the fact that it made a mockery of Obama’s foreign policy.

        1. Not only that, it embarrassed Hillary. But daddy government can’t be embarrassed; that’s just not respectful!

          1. Yeah, because when Democrats are embarrassed about shit that doesn’t compromise national security, Republicans run to their defense.

            Jesus Epi, you need to get a new act.

          2. daddy government can’t be embarrassed

            Oh! I get it. Sorry. You’re an anarchist, a special-needs commentator. Just let me say that I think it’s wonderful how people like you (is that offensive?) are able to function with computers and intermediate language skills and…well, I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, dear. Your counselors must be very proud.

            1. There’s nothing wrong with being an anarchist. Anarchism is very logically and morally consistent, and I would propose that it is the most consistent of all the libertarian flavors.

              1. Yeah because it is totally realistic to believe that people won’t form groups to have their will enforced over other people.

                As someone pointed out earlier this week, Epi may not believe in nation states. But they most certainly believe in him. If you are a human being living in a group, you will have a government. Whether that government is the local warlord who breaks your legs if you don’t pay his tribute, or the IRS who trows you in jail for not paying taxes is up for negotiation. But there being a government is not. Pretending otherwise, just makes you as Kimberly describes it well, “a special needs commenter.”

                1. Pretending otherwise, just makes you as Kimberly describes it well, “a special needs commenter.”

                  I think i need evidence that Epi ever denied the existence of a government…otherwise this looks a bit like a strawman.

                  1. It should also be noted that Epi is correct in asserting that the defense of wikileaks is not an automatic leftist position.

                    anyway here is the US government keeping secrets from me:

                    Control Number 2011-53-017-00001

                    Joshua Corning

                    This responds to your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA request email attached) dated October 7, 2010 and assigned control number 2011-53-017-0000.

                    In response to your request, we located no documents available to be disclosed. With respect to these pages, we are withholding all information in full, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. ? 552 (b)( 3) and 5 U.S.C. ? 552 (b)(6) of the FOIA.

                    Exemption 3 — 5 U.S.C. ? 552 (b)(3):

                    Exemption 3 protects information included in FSA’s records specifically exempted from disclosure by another Federal Statute. Pursuant to exemption 3, all information regarding a list and map of acreage located in the SAFE program has been withheld in full.

                    A. Section 1619(b) of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008:

                    In this instance, Section 1619(b) of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 prohibits disclosure of the information requested.

                    The records you have requested include information that FSA has obtained from (an) agricultural producer(s) or (a) landowner(s) that concerns their farming or agricultural operation- including production and marketing of agricultural commodities and livestock, farming practices, conservation practices, or the land itself. The type of information withheld includes information you requested. This information is required to be provided to FSA in order for the agricultural producers (and/or) landowners shown on these records to participate in FSA’s farm programs.

                    Exemption 6 — 5 U.S.C. ? 552 (b)(6):

                    Exemption 6 protects personal information affecting an individual’s privacy. Pursuant to exemption 6, all the information you requested has been withheld in full.

                    Specifically, exemption 6 protects personnel and similar files, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. The courts have held that the phrase “similar files” involves all information that applies to a particular person. When disclosure of information about particular individuals is requested, the courts have decided that it is necessary for us to determine whether release of the information would constitute a clearly “unwarranted” invasion of the individuals’ privacy. To make this determination, we are required to perform a “balancing test.” This means that we must weigh the individual’s right to privacy against the public’s right to disclosure. In this instance, we have determined that the disclosure of this information would shed little or no light on the performance of the agency’s statutory duties and that, on balance; the public interest to be served by its disclosure does not outweigh the privacy interest of the individuals in question, in withholding it. The records withheld under this exemption include the list and map of acreage located in the SAFE program.

                    If you believe this decision is in error. Please include a copy of your initial request letter in your appeal package, and clearly mark both your letter and its envelope with the words “Freedom of Information Act Appeal.” Mail your appeal package to the following address:


                    United States Department of Agriculture

                    Farm Service Agency, Stop Code 0570

                    1400 Independence Avenue, SW

                    Washington, D.C. 20250-0570

                    The cost of processing your request is $_____0.00________, calculated as follows, as the cost of process is less than $25.00.


                    /s/ Michel Ruud

                    Michel Ruud

                    County Executive Director

                2. Yes, John and Kimberly, being against authoritarian government indicates you have “special needs.” Thanks for coming to a libertarian blog and reminding us all of that. Otherwise this libertarian blog might start attracting too many anti-government types. Can someone please remind me of what libertarian means again?

                  1. Being an “anarachist” is more than just being against authoritarian goverment nekoxgirl. It is Epi’s claim that he is against all government that I find rediculous, not being against some governments.

                    1. I just think it’s silly to attack anarchism on a libertarian blog. Hell, Murray Rothbard was an anarcho-capitalist. And I’d hardly call HIM “special needs.”

              2. Anarchism is very logically and morally consistent

                Ha ha ha ha ha!


                Dude! We can, like, live on a commune and like, invite our friends to live with us and like, Dude! We can grow vegetables, and like, everyone will help, and there won’t be any competition, and no war, and The Man can’t stop us from…like…like…Free Love!

            2. spoof… but I like it

            3. Wow, looks like Max and rectal got a sex change.

    2. Yes, because those of us who think Manning should rot in Leavenworth while having no problem with Assange are clearly leftist.

    3. Yes, it was just one person doing all that. They caught Anonymous!

    4. Since when is a DDoS attack considered “hacking”?

  5. The popularity of the channels is particularly surprising given Rotana broadcasts Fox News, the rightwing News Corp channel that takes a hard line against Islamic radicalism and has strongly supported US military intervention in the Middle East.

    Yeah, but other than that Fox is pretty much right in line with middle eastern society.

    1. Gee a news channel that specializes in hiring blond anchors with big boobs and short skirts is popular in a country where the sexes are strictly segregated. Who would have thought such a thing?

      Megan Kelly could be burning Korans and she would be popular in Saudi Arabia. Have you ever seen the stewardess on middle eastern airlines?

      1. Hey, Jenna Lee is a red head and her titties are only a mouthful.

        1. it takes all kinds.

          1. The aptly named Mary Katharine Ham?

            1. She is cute. I would hit it. She is not Jenna Lee Megan Kelly level. But she is cute. And she would be downright gorgeous if you were living in a place where all the women wore burkas.

              1. I would nibble that ham.

                1. But only (I don’t hesitate to add) if S.E. Cupp weren’t available. My god, she’s a thinking-gal’s Pat Buchanan.

                  1. SE Cupp is pretty sexy. Better looking than Ham. She has the whole geeky girl next door vibe going. Very hitable.


                    1. Agreed. She sort of reminds me of Kennedy (the MTV veejay) back in the day… Ironically, didn’t she go crazy-righty too?

                    2. According to her wiki entry she claims to be a libertarian. And Cupp kind of has that vibe going. But Cupp is much better looking.

                    3. Hmm… Must’ve heard she went crazy-right from a liberal/Democrat friend then (since many can’t see the difference between libertarian and crazy-right). I agree that Cupp wins, but Kennedy has sentimental value…

                    4. Kimberly|12.9.10 @ 4:32PM|#
                      she’s a thinking-gal’s Pat Buchanan

                      I was joking, you retards.

                      Earth to…

                      Never mind.

                    5. We knew you were joking when you said “thinking gal.”

                  2. lol…which little bore bitch are you?

  6. But what about Julian Assange, Michael? Isn’t he a douchebag?

  7. Just wait until they get the Dancing With the Stars episodes involving whatsername Palin girl – then you’ll see some violent jihad going on. Hell, we nearly had it here – idiots shooting their TV sets; morons filing FCC complaints about the show.

    If they’re getting their understanding of America by the putrid shit that fills our TV channels, they’ll want to kill us not out of a fervent religious belief, but just to put us out of our pathetic misery.

    1. Just wait until they get Sarah Palin’s Alaska and see her shooting Rudolph two weeks before Christmas. There are liberals all over America suffering PTSD from that right now.

      1. Santa uses caribou now? Fuck, they’re going to have to redo some Christmas specials.

        1. Isn’t caribou just the North American name for reindeer? I thought they were both the same species. Both slow, dumb, cute and awfully tasty.

        2. Reindeer and Caribou look different, but they probably are the same species. Caribou are large, wild, elk-like animals which can be found above the tree-line in arctic North America and Greenland. Because they can live on lichens in the winter they are very well adapted for the harsh arctic tundra where they migrate great distances each year. Caribou cows and bulls both grow distinctive antlers and bull antlers can reach 4 feet in width! A Caribou calf can run within 90 minutes of its birth. It must do this to keep up with the migrating herds.

          Reindeer are slightly smaller and were domesticated in northern Eurasia about 2000 years ago.

          It appears Reindeer are just caribou’s wild cousins.

          1. If it moves, eat it.

  8. IOW, they (the rulers of the Arab world who’ll lose power if their countries liberalize) do hate us for our (cultural) freedom.

    1. Huh? They’re the ones who put these shows on the air:
      “…the shows are being allowed as part of the kingdom’s “war of ideas” against extremist elements.”

    1. Yeah, I’m redundant.


      1. Blog is on fire again my little cowardly boy.

        1. “Blog is on fire”

          Three more hits? Duuude! You’re famous!

        2. I confess to looking at it today.

          It is still less coherent then Tim was in 2007.

          Some may enjoy that though.

              1. Miss you too. Isn’t it time for you to get a big boy email? When the fuck do you graduate?

    2. rectal, I was one of the three hits you got on your “blog.” I admit I had a good time laughing at the dumb shit you write. But I had an even better time laughing at your comments on H&R, acting like people actually read your blog and take it seriously.

      1. Heller, You must be speaking of the amount of times you got laid in college because I get hundred of hits after I make one reference to a new post.

  9. I don’t see why anyone would think the Saudis as anti-US given that their government exists due to US intervention in exchange for oil money going to a handful of US “construction” firms.

  10. …, for police in many lands are now complaining that local arrestees are insisting on having their Miranda rights read to them, just like perps in American TV cop shows. When it’s explained to them that they are in a different country, where those rights do not exist, they become outraged. Starsky and Hutch reruns, dubbed into diverse languages, may turn out, in the long run, to be a greater force for human rights than the Declaration of Independence. ? Neal Stephenson (1999)
    In the Beginning was the Command Line

  11. I don’t understand how American Pop Culture and American Propaganda are different? Can someone explain?

    1. OMG! Van layed a minefield!

      “I can make it.. I’m not like those other rifle packing blond haired county boys in the movies”

      American Propaganda is generated at the direction of Authority figures in Business or Government. Expressly to expose a set population to specific ideas and or facts. The goal being to influance the decision making process of the targeted population to an externaly set goal.

      American Popular Culture is a much more nebulous phenomenum because it is not a single targeted objective. Nor does it need Authority, Targets, Objectives, or any reconizable structure at all. American individuals have the freedom to choose their intrests. When those with converging intrests gather to express their support and appreciation of their intrests it creates a “Gravity Well” effect.

      Lets Look at the American Popular Culture event known collectively as “Disco”.

      < Click >

      AHSIIYT I stepped on a mine!

      1. Your comment about Disco reminded me of
        Sayyid Qutb’s reaction to a dance, hosted by a Church in Colorado, and the attendant depravity.

        Adam Curtis discusses this exposure to American Popular Culture in “The Power of Nightmares”

        Yes I am promoting Adam Curtis but without getting paid for it.

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