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By Geoff Metcalf

February 19, 2006

NewsWithViews.com

“From passions grow opinions; intellectual laziness lets these harden into convictions.” --Friedrich Nietzsche

If a story sounds too good to be true…well, it should at least command some basic fact checking…the New York Times notwithstanding.

When a 16-year-old kid from an affluent family flies to Kuwait to fulfill a requirement for a journalism class, ‘maybe’ someone might at least check to see IF there was such a class, and what his parents did or didn’t know, before canonizing him as an intrepid neophyte reporter on a vision quest for some journalistic grail.

Farris Hasan reportedly/allegedly went to Iraq in search of a ‘story’. Apparently his writing (and the follow up reportage of his sojourn) was based on a Jason Blair model.

NewsBuster.org bloggers have done a good job of exposing Hasan’s duplicity, but the mainstream media seems immune to the disinfectant qualities of sunlight.

1. Farris allegedly flew off to Iraq on his own without telling Mommy and Daddy.

a. Not True. Daddy helped arrange the trip, visa, and security.
b. Dr. Reha Hassan (the father) even wrote a note to the school.

2. His trip was ‘supposed’ to be research for a journalism course.

a. Not True. His school offers no journalism courses. b. Lourdes Cowgill, President of the Pine Crest School says no ‘immersion journalism’ assignment was given.

3. By the way, the FBI had arrested Dr. Hassan in 1985 over a plan to forge Iraqi passports (some 2,000 of them).
4. From Amsterdam, Farris headed to Kuwait City…when he couldn’t get across the border to Iraq he asked his father for help.
5. Daddy told him to go to Beirut, Lebanon. a. During his ten days in Beirut, the young wannabe journalist met with Hezbollah media relation’s types.

The whole Farris Hasan ‘goat rope’ begs the question, who is the bigger fool…U.S. Homeland Security’s inept Intel staff, or the mainstream media?

There is ample blame to go around (again) but at least Homeland Security has the stones to acknowledge the initial failures [Read]

Why aren’t this kid and his dad sitting in a small FBI interrogation room instead of MSNBC’s Green Room?

The Mainstream types remain so fixated on ‘getting it first’ they still fail to recognize the imperative to ‘get it RIGHT’.

Cinamon Stillwell and Tom Blumer at NewsBusters.org are doing stuff that MSNBC and AP ‘should’ have done before providing the teenager a national/international forum and 15-minutes of fame.

Frankly, I’m surprised some real journalism intern didn’t suggest, “Hey, let’s do a sidebar story on the course he’s taking. We should interview his teacher?” At least then they would have found the first in the series of lies.

EVERYone, and excuse me, but yeah, even journalists, should be on the look out for potential threats to our national security.

Those Hezbollah guys Farris met with are members of a Shiite Muslim organization symbiotically joined with Iran. They are big in Iraq and focused on driving out the American ‘occupiers’.

The serial lying plus a dubious family history ‘should’ have put this kid under the microscope, not in the limelight.

An Associated Press story by Jason Straziuso is confusing. It suggests Farris went to Beirut when he couldn’t cross the border, but then implies in was IN Baghdad and contacted AP there?

“Inside the safety of Baghdad's Green Zone, an Embassy official from the Hostage Working Group talked to Hassan about how risky travel is in Iraq.”

But in the same story Straziuso quotes the young Hassan as saying, "If they'd let me in from Kuwait, I probably would have died," he acknowledged. "That would have been a bad idea."

In the wake of all the water (and blood) that has spilled since 9/11 we ‘should’ be getting better at this intelligence and security stuff. The routine mantra remains ‘eventually, inevitably, somewhere, sometime, somehow, the bad guys WILL hit us again…’.

Regardless of whether you support the president or don’t…believe we are going good in Iraq, or don’t…the empirical reality is we remain at risk.

I don’t like the willingness of our government to codify the excesses of the Patriot Act. However, I also don’t want our government and media to make the terrorist’s job easy. Yeah, it’s a ‘catch-22’ and I don’t presume to have answers.

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I expect the fourth estate to ask hard questions…of EVERYone. The same unrelenting scrutiny the mainstream has a ‘Jones’ for when it comes to Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, and Dick Cheney, should also be directed at Michael Moore, Air America, and lying 16-year olds on school holiday with Hezbollah in Beirut.

It really shouldn’t be a question of WHO is right or wrong, but WHAT is right or wrong that should matter.

© 2006 Geoff Metcalf - All Rights Reserved

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"Geoff Metcalf is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host for TALK AMERICA and a veteran media performer. He has had an eclectic professional background covering a wide spectrum of radio, television, magazine, and newspapers. A former Green Beret and retired Army officer he is in great demand as a speaker. Visit Geoff's

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The whole Farris Hasan ‘goat rope’ begs the question, who is the bigger fool…U.S. Homeland Security’s inept Intel staff, or the mainstream media?