Daniel Pipes: Both Right and Wrong


Mr. Khawaja, adjunct professor of philosophy at the College of New Jersey, is a columnist for Pakistan Today. The views he expresses here are his own.

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Editor's Note: Mr. Pipes's reply to this article can be found by clicking here.

"And on that day will men... be shown the deeds that they had done. And who has done an atom's weight of good shall see it, and who has done an atom's weight of evil shall see it, too." -Quran, 99:6-8

As many readers will already know, on April 4 of this year, President Bush nominated Daniel Pipes, director of the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum, to serve on the board of the US Institute of Peace, a federally-funded think tank. Predictably, the nomination has polarized the Muslim American community. On the one hand, we have organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), opposing the Pipes nomination on grounds of Pipes's alleged racism, bigotry, and Islamophobia. On the other hand, we have Muslim-owned periodicals like Pakistan Today, which have welcomed his nomination as a way of combating terrorism and militant Islam.

For whatever it's worth, I both agree and disagree with both sides in this dispute. As I see it, Pipes is neither the demon that his enemies have made of him, nor the savior that his champions have made him into. He is, on the one hand, an astute and courageous scholar of militant Islam who has said what needs to be said on that subject without worrying too much about winning popularity contests. On the other hand, however, he is an insensitive, careless, and unreliable journalist with a consistent pattern of exaggeration and misjudgment that he adamantly refuses to acknowledge or rectify. Both facts are real; neither should be ignored.

In Praise of Pipes

Let's start with the praise. It's hard not to admire the tenacity with which Pipes has identified and confronted the threat posed by militant Islam over the past few decades. In this respect, his writings provide a refreshing contrast to those of academics, journalists, and activists who have spent careers trying to evade, downplay or deny the existence of a distinctively Islamic threat to the US. Indeed, one can't quite grasp Pipes's achievements here unless one contrasts his views with the fatuities of his adversaries.

As an example of such an adversary, consider Edward Said of Columbia University, a columnist for Al Ahram Weekly (Cairo) and a widely influential left intellectual, characteristically described as an "expert" on Middle East politics. In an essay written for the Nation entitled "The Devil Theory of Islam," (August 12, 1996)--one of many of its kind that he's written--Said had this to say about those who were warning of an Islamist threat to American national security: "The Islamic threat is made to seem disproportionately fearsome….Never mind that most Islamic countries today are too poverty-stricken, tyrannical and hopelessly inept militarily as well as scientifically to be much of a threat to anyone except their own citizens." There was, according to Said, no genuine threat to the US from Muslim militants; the very idea of such a threat was a "millennial" hoax, conjured into existence by people like Pipes merely to assure themselves "profitable consultancies, frequent TV appearances and book contracts."

Well, let's consider. About two years before Said wrote those words (Feb. 26, 1993), Muslim militants had detonated a bomb at the World Trade Center, killing six. Five months later (June 5, 1993), Muslim militants had attacked the Pakistani Army's humanitarian effort in Mogadishu, Somalia killing 24. Two months after that (August), the same militants killed another ten US soldiers on the same relief mission, and two months after that (October), these same militants attacked and killed 18 US soldiers, driving the US out and ending its mission in Somalia altogether. About two years later (November 13, 1995), Muslim terrorists attacked US military personnel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, killing five Americans. Seven months later (June 25, 1996), and a mere seven weeks before the publication of Said's article, Muslim terrorists attacked the Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 19 Americans.

Two weeks after the publication of Said's article, Osama bin Laden declared war against the government of the United States (Aug. 23, 1996); less than two years after that (Feb. 1998), he declared war against the American people as such; a few months after that (May 1998), he announced his intention of acquiring nuclear weapons and using them against American citizens; and by the summer of 2002, one of his lieutenants, Suleman Abu-Gheith, had announced the intention of killing up to four million Americans. A few months after the second bin Laden fatwa, the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed (Aug. 7, 1998), killing 12 Americans and 212 others. About a year later (on the millennium no less), a Muslim terrorist tried but failed to blow up Los Angeles Airport. Ten months after that, Muslim terrorists attacked the USS Cole, killing 17. Eleven months after that, Muslim terrorists attacked New York and Washington, killing about 3000. Three months after that, a Muslim terrorist tried but failed to blow up an American airliner en route from Paris to Miami.

I could go on, but I'll stop here. Ask yourself: if our fear of Islamic terrorism has been "disproportionate," does that mean that the preceding body count was "proportionate"? And if so, "proportionate" to what?

Confronted with the enormity of the 9/11 attacks, Said's idea of a response to them was to "go to the world community" and "marshal international law." Exactly what the "world community" was supposed to do after being consulted was left a riddle--and has been left in that state in Said's writings since then. Exactly how "international law" was to deal with tens of thousands of armed militants in Afghanistan without recourse to force the great man didn't venture to explain, and hasn't since felt the need to explain. Exactly why the Afghan War was contrary to "international law" (or morality) is another imponderable, left unclarified in the venomous fog of Said's prose. With robotic predictability, and in tones of certainty odd in a self-proclaimed "skeptic," Said was only able to say that the US war was an act of aggression--"high-altitude destruction," "metaphysical retaliation," "monochromatic," "illegal," "blind," and so on. But what to do? On this question, Said produced nothing but silence, broken only by pompous lectures about the "moral responsibility of intellectuals."

Lest you think that Said's opposition to the Afghan War was motivated by his concern for the Afghan people, you might recall his advice to intellectuals at the height of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan: "The main task for American intellectuals," Said wrote, "is not to attack Libya or denounce Soviet communism…." ("The Essential Terrorist," in Blaming the Victims, p. 158, [1988]). Of course not. How was Edward Said supposed to know that Libya was the kind of government whose agents would blow up Pan Am flight 103? You'd only have worried about that if you were "disproportionately" afraid of terrorism. As for denouncing the Soviets, a task like that might have drawn indiscreet attention to the PLO's relationship with the Soviet Union during the Soviet invasion and occupation of a Muslim country. The "main task" now is to forget about such things and move on.

But forgetting them doesn't help much. We are after all dealing with a man whose concern for American security can best be summarized by the following earnest observation, made to a Kuwaiti newspaper in 1989: "The Israeli and U.S. governments are our enemies. Logically, what we do must be on the same level of what they do as enemies" (Al Qabas, October 7). Logically, Said proceeded a few months after the 9/11 attacks to complain about life in the "enemy" country: "I don't know a single Arab or Muslim American who does not now feel that he or she belongs to the enemy camp," he wrote (Al Ahram, Feb. 28-March 6, 2002). Could it be, perhaps, that some of them belong there?

Read the archives of Daniel Pipes's writings for the same time period, and you see something quite different: a sustained, active, and informed engagement with the Islamist threat, along with workable prescriptions for dealing with it. It didn't occur to Said that a devastating terrorist attack need not come from a nation-state. Nor did it occur to him that such an attack need not have involved much money, orthodox military operations, or sophisticated scientific or technological expertise. Most of these things had occurred to Daniel Pipes, and he'd said so, repeatedly, for years--despite the constant vilification of people like Edward Said, and the chorus of sycophants that rides his coattails.

A few of Pipes's headlines tell the tale: "Fundamentalist Muslims Between America and Russia" (Foreign Affairs, Summer 1986); "Terrorism: The New Enemy" (Wall Street Journal Europe, August 27, 1998); "Is Islamism Dead?" (Policywatch, February 10, 1999); "Islam's Big Threat in America" (Forward, April 30, 1999); "A New Way to Fight Terrorism" (Jerusalem Post, May 24, 2000); "The New Global Threat" (Jerusalem Post, April 11, 2001); and so on. When it came to identifying the threat posed by militant Islam, Pipes saw what virtually no one else saw; he said what no one else said; he wrote what no one else wrote; and he was vilified like no one else was. Said, by contrast, saw none of it, but earned accolades (and cash) despite the failure.

The contrast, however, is a general one, not confined to Said himself: it's entirely natural that the profession that would laud the "insights" of an Edward Said would be one that despises a Daniel Pipes; Pipes has drawn attention to precisely those parts of reality that such people have evaded for decades, and continue to evade to this day. Were it not for Pipes, we would know even less about those realities than we now do.

In Criticism of Pipes

Having praised Pipes, however, I hasten to say that there is as much to damn as to praise. Pipes is, to be sure, an acute critic of militant Islam and an insightful analyst of terrorism, but he's also an example of what the philosopher Jeremy Bentham called a "one-eyed man"--a person who sees one thing very clearly, but lacks the peripheral vision to see anything else. This deficiency of vision has repeatedly led Pipes to snap judgments; to playing fast and loose with evidence; to dabble in rumor, innuendo and defamation; and to a stubborn inability to admit mistakes, sometimes egregious ones. Consider a few examples, drawn from a larger collection.

(1) It's a little-known fact that in the mid-1980s, Pipes was one of the proponents of the Reagan Administration's "tilt" toward Saddam Hussein. In a now-forgotten article he co-wrote with Laurie Mylroie ("Back Iraq: Why Iran's Enemy Should be America's Friend," New Republic, April 27, 1987), Pipes had this advice to offer, advice that the administration clearly took to heart: "The American weapons that Iraq could make good use of include remotely scatterable and anti-personnel mines and counterartillery radar…The United States might also consider upgrading intelligence it is supplying Baghdad...."

In answer to the objection that such weapons might eventually be used against us, Pipes and Mylroie claimed to have perceived "a degree of moderation" in Saddam's regime that precluded such an eventuality--"moderation" that came a year before the massacre of the Kurds at Halabja, and at a time when the Iraqi government was clearly in possession of chemical and biological weapons, and trying to build an atomic bomb. "Back Iraq" is conspicuously absent from Pipes's website archive, but it's undeniably a part of the documentary record and should not be allowed to disappear into the memory hole. Pipes is, after all, a big fan of arguments from authority--his authority. (Pipes to an interviewer: "Look, I have a filter. I've studied Islam and Islamism for 30 years. I have a sense of how they proceed and what their agenda is like. And I see it. You don't. You haven't spent the time. Most Americans haven't." Salon, Nov. 9, 2001.) It's worth asking: what is the value of such authority if it leads to policy recommendations like "Trust me: back Saddam Hussein's Iraq; our security depends on it"?

(2) Fast-forward to the fall of 2001. In the weeks after 9/11, during the anti-Muslim backlash that arose at the time, Pipes clinched his case about the existence of "sleeper cells" of Muslim terrorists in the US with the following casual observation: "Islamists in New York City celebrated the destruction on September 11 at their mosques, but journalists refused to report the story for fear of offending Muslims, effectively concealing this important information from the US public" ("Fighting Militant Islam Without Bias," City Journal, Fall 2001, penultimate paragraph). A startling claim: alarming if true, contemptible if false.

Note that in making it, Pipes gives no dates, no times, no specific locations, no sources, no descriptions, no quotations-no evidence at all. He simply makes the claim, casts the relevant aspersions, and walks away, as though issues of evidence were superfluous. Who are we to object? After all, he knows; we don't; his is an authority whereof there can be no doubt. That such claims (or such an approach to rumor) might find their way into the culture and become entrenched as "truth" at a time of crisis-or subvert the very idea of concern for truth at such a time-was of little concern to the author of Conspiracy: How the Paranoid Style Flourishes and Where It Comes From (Free Press, 1997).

(3) Fast-forward now to the spring of 2002. That spring, Harvard University had announced that a senior, Zayed Yasin, was to give a commencement speech focusing on the concept of jihad. Criticized for doing so, Yasin insisted that the concept of jihad did not necessarily mean "holy war"; it could in principle mean "holy struggle" in a non-violent sense, and it was this latter sense that he had in mind. On this occasion, Pipes took to the airwaves not only to criticize Yasin's understanding of jihad but to denounce him for "fabrication" in saying what he had said (ABC News Nightline, June 4, 2002).

One oddity here is that the Summer 2001 issue of Middle East Quarterly (journal of the Middle East Forum, which Pipes directs) contains an article by one Abdul Hadi Palazzi, arguing for precisely the same conception of jihad as Yasin had defended at Harvard ("The Islamists Have It Wrong"). If Yasin had engaged in fabrication, so then had Palazzi. But if Palazzi had engaged in so egregious a "fabrication," why had his paper been published in Middle East Quarterly?

A second oddity, however, is Pipes's interpretation of the speech itself. In a later discussion of Yasin's speech ("Jihad and the Professors,"Commentary, November 2002), Pipes wrote: "Last spring, the faculty of Harvard College selected a graduating senior named Zayed Yasin to deliver a speech at the university's commencement exercises in June. When the title of the speech-'My American Jihad'-was announced, it quite naturally aroused questions….Yasin, a past president of the Harvard Islamic Society, had a ready answer. To connect jihad to warfare, he said, was to misunderstand it."

I am presently looking at the text of Yasin's speech, which I must by now have read six or seven times in search of the "answer" that Pipes ascribes to it. It simply is not there to be found. To be sure, Yasin distinguishes jihad from terrorism (he repudiates the idea that the 9/11 attacks were an instance of legitimate jihad), and he says that non-violent jihad is jihad's "truest and purest form," but neither of these claims constitutes a "disconnection" of jihad from warfare. Nor does anything else in the speech. Perhaps Pipes is referring to some extemporaneous remark of Yasin's (and if so, it would help to be explicit about that), but if he is referring to Yasin's June 6 speech, his accusation has absolutely no textual warrant whatsoever; it is an egregious misrepresentation of the contents of that speech. In fact, the nature of the misrepresentation leads one to wonder: if this is how Pipes reads a one-page graduation speech in American English, how are we to trust his readings of esoteric theological texts in Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, or Turkish?

(4) In the fall of 2002, Pipes broke a story about an Arab newspaper in Paterson, NJ that had been serializing The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a notorious anti-Semitic forgery ("Protocols of Paterson," New York Post, Nov. 5). Apropos of nothing at all, he mentioned that the Protocols had been serialized alongside a syndicated column by James Zogby, president of the Arab-American Institute-thereby insinuating that Zogby was somehow complicitous in (or had foreknowledge of) the serialization. Pipes adduced not a single shred of evidence to demonstrate this, and Zogby himself denounced the serialization and denied both foreknowledge and complicity in a November 7 posting to Pipes's website.

That didn't stop Pipes from linking Zogby to the Protocols, however; indeed, pressed on the issue, Pipes insinuated, once again without evidence, that Zogby's denials were lies (website entry, November 15). Pipes's readership, of course, quickly got the message, blanketing his website (and others) with random accusations of anti-Semitism, directed at Zogby, Zogby's brother John, and Arabs generally-accusations that Pipes did nothing to discourage. The implication here seems to be that to be associated with pro-Arab causes is to be fair game for wild accusations of anti-Semitism, made on the flimsiest of pretexts, or none at all.

(5) Around the same time, Pipes asserted, in an article entitled "Jihad and the Professors" (Commentary, November 2002), that academic scholars of Islam had been whitewashing the concept of jihad and denying "that jihad had any military meaning whatsoever." One of the targets of this accusation, Roxanne Euben of Wellesley College, happens to be a friend of mine, and so I know the facts of her case particularly well.

As it turns out, Euben does not and did not deny jihad's military dimension; she straightforwardly affirms it in her 1999 book, Enemy in the Mirror (Princeton), as well as in articles and lectures since then. Absurdly enough, Pipes's accusation appeared at almost the precise moment at which Euben's paper "Jihad and Political Violence" appeared in the November 2002 issue of Current History, the paper being a version of her earlier paper, "Killing (for) Politics: Jihad, Martyrdom and Political Action" (Political Theory, February 2002). So much for "denying jihad's military meaning."

But such cavils presuppose familiarity with Euben's writings, something Pipes lacked: the "book" he ascribed to her in his article was not one she had written, and the book she had actually written flatly contradicted the views he ascribed to her. The title he gives for her book turns out to be the title of a public talk in which she had explicitly affirmed that jihad had a military component--a talk, of course, that Pipes had never attended. To compound the error, the one sentence that Pipes quoted to prove his point was a neutral description of what "many Muslims" believe about jihad, not Euben's denial that jihad had a military component. Ultimately, then, almost everything in Pipes's extraordinary accusations turned out to be a falsehood of one kind or another.

Confronted by Euben in the February 2003 issue of Commentary, Pipes responded first by conceding her criticisms, and then by insisting that appearances to the contrary, he was "technically correct"-because while his claims were objectively false, he had nonetheless gotten those claims from an undergraduate newspaper account of Euben's lecture and this was sufficient for his purposes. "My analysis," he wrote in his February response to Euben, "was restricted to newspaper and television reports." The problem is, there was no suggestion whatsoever in the original article that the reports he was using might be in error. "Several interlocking themes emerge from the more than two dozen experts I surveyed," Pipes had written (my emphasis), noting only that he was restricting himself to their views as expressed in the mass media as opposed to their views as expressed in "articles in learned journals." Note that the claim here is one about their views as such, not about the distorting effects of media coverage, much less undergraduate newspaper coverage.

One simply cannot make accusations about scholars "whitewashing jihad" in the current climate of opinion while shrugging off egregious errors ex post facto by confessing to be less interested in the scholars' actual views than in the hash that undergraduate reporters make of them. To do that, after all, is to whitewash error. It is a travesty of the concept of "accuracy" for Pipes to describe his claims about Euben's views as "accurate" in any sense of the term, "technical" or otherwise. His claims, to put the matter bluntly, were unqualifiedly false, and to refuse to admit that is to distort the historical record before our very eyes. It's worth bearing in mind that the claims about Euben's views come in the context of claims about other scholars; the falsity of Pipes's claims about her views surely casts doubt on the truth of his claims about the others.

Each of the preceding episodes exemplifies a common theme in Pipes's writings: the substitution of rhetoric for evidence when the stakes are high or reputations are on the line, and when the need for evidence is at a premium. Given that a genuine threat to national security exists, given the public's sheer credulity on issues related to Islamic terrorism, and given his academic credentials, Pipes has essentially come to enjoy carte blanche to say anything he wants about anyone he wants. And he uses it. Asked for evidence for his occasionally astounding assertions, he hedges, fudges, or belligerently refuses to answer criticisms. Caught in undeniably egregious errors, he shrugs them off and moves on to the next target. The left, discredited by its past evasions of terrorism, is incapable of mounting a credible response to him. The right has little ideological incentive for doing so. And so the errors continue-ostensibly random, but troublingly profuse. The question is whether that pattern should be honored by awarding Pipes a government position.

Judgment Day

So how should the Senate decide on the Pipes nomination? Let me offer a rather Pipesian solution.

Pipes's writings on terrorism and militant Islam ought to be acknowledged as the legitimate basis of his nomination; on that issue, he deserves real credit. But his methods should be regarded as the major obstacle to Senate approval. Nor should the real achievements of his anti-Islamist record be allowed to obscure the problematic nature of his methods (or vice versa).

To address the discrepancy between the two, the Senate should deal with Pipes in much the way he has dealt with his own adversaries: by putting him on the spot. Pipes should be asked to respond, under oath, to some of the intellectual malfeasances I've described here (and I stress that there are others in the record, not at all hard to find). Should he acknowledge his errors and vow not to repeat them, he should be approved, held strictly to his word, and called to account for any breaches of his promise. Should he not do so, he should be rejected, and another nominee sought.

We should know by now that while there really was a communist threat to the US in the 1950s, Joseph McCarthy was not the right answer to it. Thanks to Pipes, we know that there is an Islamist threat to the US now. But while we can be grateful for the knowledge, we can ill-afford a 21st century repetition of the McCarthy episode. Pipes may not be Joseph McCarthy, but there is nonetheless a troubling similarity between the methods of the one and the methods of the other, in effect if not in intention. If Pipes can't explicitly own up to and disavow his reliance on those methods, he simply isn't the right answer to the Islamist threat, no matter how much he knows about it. The burden of proof should be made to rest squarely with him at this point-where it truly belongs and has always belonged, and can't be discharged until it's satisfactorily met.


I thank Irfan Khawaja for his careful reading of my work and his praise for my work on militant Islam. His evident seriousness of purpose prompts me to do what I ordinarily don't do - reply to his criticisms. These are five in number:

(1) In the period of Iranian offensive actions against Iraq, 1982-88, I worried about an Iranian victory and the spread of its Islamist ideology. Just as the U.S. government once allied with Stalin against Hitler, I advocated it work with Saddam Hussein against Ayatollah Khomeini. It did so, with success: the Iranian threat was in fact contained. Two decades later, I stand by this recommendation. This was not, by the way, the only time when I have this "lesser evil" policy: other cases include working with Islamists against the Soviets in Afghanistan and with the Algerian government against the GIA.

As for the 1987 New Republic article not appearing on my website, www.DanielPipes.org: a review of my writings will reveal that dozens and dozens of my 1980s articles are not on the website yet, for the simple reason that I lack their electronic versions; should anyone volunteer to type up this New Republic piece or others from back then, I will gladly post the results.

(2) In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, when I wrote of Islamists in New York City celebrating the World Trade Center's destruction, the air was thick with such reports; a year and a half later, as Khawaja correctly notes, these have not been validated and I accept his correction.

(3) I objected to Zayed Yasin's whitewashing of jihad, his patronizing way of telling listeners that "Jihad is not something that should make someone feel uncomfortable" when its history in fact has been one of "war, dispossession, dhimmitude, slavery, and death." Abdul Hadi Palazzi does not pretend jihad is a purely spiritual undertaking but acknowledges that the traditional understanding of this word "includes a military meaning."

As for Khawaja's "second oddity," simply to quote his excerpt in context is to answer his question:

Last spring, the faculty of Harvard College selected a graduating senior named Zayed Yasin to deliver a speech at the university's commencement exercises in June. When the title of the speech-"My American Jihad"-was announced, it quite naturally aroused questions. Why, it was asked, should Harvard wish to promote the concept of jihad-or "holy war"-just months after thousands of Americans had lost their lives to a jihad carried out by nineteen suicide hijackers acting in the name of Islam? Yasin, a past president of the Harvard Islamic Society, had a ready answer. To connect jihad to warfare, he said, was to misunderstand it. Rather, "in the Muslim tradition, jihad represents a struggle to do the right thing." His own purpose, Yasin added, was to "reclaim the word for its true meaning, which is inner struggle." In the speech itself, Yasin would elaborate on this point:

"Jihad, in its truest and purest form, the form to which all Muslims aspire, is the determination to do right, to do justice even against your own interests. It is an individual struggle for personal moral behavior. Especially today, it is a struggle that exists on many levels: self-purification and awareness, public service and social justice. On a global scale, it is a struggle involving people of all ages, colors, and creeds, for control of the Big Decisions: not only who controls what piece of land, but more importantly who gets medicine, who can eat."

(4) When Khawaja states that I mentioned James Zogby "Apropos of nothing at all" in my article, "The Paterson 'Protocols,'" he overlooks Zogby's connection to the topic. That article dealt with a New Jersey-based Arabic-language newspaper, the Arab Voice, having serialized The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. I stated in the second paragraph about this paper: "Its featured columnist is James Zogby." I then wrote in the second-to-last paragraph: "To prevent The Protocols from making further inroads in the United States, advertisers, James Zogby and the newspaper's printer must immediately and completely disassociate themselves from the Arab Voice." How is this "Apropos of nothing at all"? Further, my demand was vindicated by the fact that, as requested, Zogby did issue a statement stating that he "informed the editor of the Arab Voice … that including such material [i.e., The Protocols] in his paper was wrong."

(5) I indicated in a footnote my scope in "Jihad and the Professors": "To see what the public is told, I looked at op-ed pieces, quotations in newspaper articles, and interviews on television." As this makes clear, I did not include talks I attended in person nor scholarly articles. My information about Roxanne Euben came from a newspaper article (Daily Northwestern, January 21, 2002) and my article accurately portrayed what that paper reported - including repeating its error of confusing the title of her talk with the title of her book. Euben pointed out this mistake in a letter to the editor, to which I replied with an apology to her for repeating the newspaper's error. I also went on (in a phrase Khawaja does not quote) to state that I "happily accept" that her scholarly writings show her "not to be in the business of whitewashing jihad; it is good to know there are some honest voices in the academy." Given this statement on my part, I fail to see what Khawaja finds objectionable.

In sum, I have already partially conceded (5) and now concede (2); but I stick by (1), (3), and (4).

And were I to turn the tables and review the work of Irfan Khawaja, I would start by advising him to pay closer attention to facts. As indicated by his not noting the other 1980s articles missing from my website, the Zogby connection to the Arab Voice, and my response to Euben, his analysis of my work, while sincere, is riddled with errors, starting with the very first sentence (President Bush nominated me on April 1).


In the response above, I conceded an error:

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, when I wrote of Islamists in New York City celebrating the World Trade Center's destruction, the air was thick with such reports; a year and a half later, as Khawaja correctly notes, these have not been validated and I accept his correction.

But a report in today’s WorldNetDaily.com by Paul Sperry, “Arab translators cheered Sept. 11,” suggests I may have had the particular place wrong. Sperry reports on a letter from former FBI translator Sibel D. Edmonds to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also known as the 9-11 Commission):

Not long after the attacks, Edmonds said one translator said: “It is about time that they get a taste of what they have been giving to the rest of the Middle East.” She says the remark was made in front of the unit supervisor, also of Middle Eastern origin. “These comments were neither rare nor made in a whisper,” Edmonds said. “They were open and loud.”

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More Comments:

Richard Landes - 7/17/2007

the first two comments here illustrate the lamentable state of thinking among the "bien-pensants" who think they are enlightened. to compare Pipes with Hitler represents the kind of "moral equivalence" that characterizes (and cripples) so much thinking from the "left." with this kind of indulgence, no wonder so many prefer to believe that W did 9-11 rather than Osama.

Irfan Khawaja - 6/1/2003

My response to Pipes is available at the following URL, kindly hosted by Professor Roderick Long of the Department of Philosophy at Auburn University.


Professor Long's hosting my response does not necessarily imply his agreement with or endorsement of what I say, and my appearance on his website should not be taken as agreement with or endorsement of its contents.

R, Piper - 6/1/2003

The mere mentioning of the foaming-at-the-mouth racist Pipes for ANY government position is more than enough for the minority who still have their mental faculties intact.

What's next: nominating Hitler to Committee on racial equality?

Richard Kurdlion - 5/30/2003

Pipes is a "courageous scholar of Islam, because he is attacked by Edward Said, it is claimed here.

Or perhaps he is an "astute scholar" because he is aware that there are indeed dangerous evils associated with some practitioners of Islam (as was been noted by Pope Urban in 1095 and by a few others since then).

Maybe some of the HNN readership can be fooled by such patent absurdity. Pakistan today and Pakistan Today, mysteries not plumbed here, may actually be misled too, among other possibilities. Certainly the freedom-fried U.S. Congress is capable of swallowing and regurgitating just about any flavor of stupidity. But real historians know better than to consider Joe McCarthy an effective anti-communist, Adolf Hitler a brilliant general, Yasir Arafat a man of principle, Ariel Sharon a man of peace, or Daniel Pipes a "refreshing" and original scholar.