A bipartisan group of congressional lawmakers sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions yesterday urging him to force media outlet Al Jazeera to register as a state-controlled agent of Qatar. The lawmakers are demanding Sessions to make this move in accordance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Apparently, the letter’s signatories included Senator Ted Cruz and Congressmen Lee Zeldin, Matt Gaetz, Josh Gottheimer, Ron DeSantis, Vicente Gonzalez, Mike Johnson, Louie Gohmert, Darrell Issa, John Ratcliffe, Peter King, Steve Chabot, Tom Reed, Steve Stivers, Keith Rothfus, Ted Poe, Tom Suozzi, David Rouzer and Carlos Curbelo.
According to the letter, the Al Jazeera Media Network maintains a global reach of 310 million people in almost 200 countries around the world and a presence in American cities including Los Angeles, New York, Washington, Miami, and Chicago.
In addition, the letter points out that its broadcasts are quite accessible, including via social media. Moreover, the letter reads that as stated by the U.S. Ambassador to Qatar in 2009, this media outlet is one of Qatar’s most valuable political and diplomatic tools.
After all, Al Jazeera was used as a “chip” to shape Qatar’s relations with over governments around the world. The letter also detailed that this media outlet was founded by state charter back in 1996 and is headquartered in Doha.
According to different reports, these lawmakers were quite concerned that the content produced by this media outlet often directly undermines American interests with a very positive coverage of U.S. State Department-designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations, such as Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and even Jabhat al-Nusra, which is Al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria.
Regarding this particular point, the letter said that every single American citizen deserves to know whether the information and news media they use is completely impartial, or if it is any kind of deceptive propaganda pushed by foreign governments.
The effort to pressure Al Jazeera to register represents the latest in a series of efforts to reinvigorate the law passed back in 1938 to combat Nazi propaganda.
Last year, the Department of Justice made one of its greatest decisions by determining the Russian-run media outlet RT must register as a foreign agent under FARA.
In addition to RT, Russian outlet Sputnik was also registered as a foreign agent under protest after receiving what amounted to formal warnings from the Justice Department.
As you can imagine, Vladimir Putin’s regime quickly retaliated by making essentially the same move against American news outlets in Russia.
Naturally, the main difference between these outlets is the fact that the American ones are not directly controlled by the U.S. government.
As reported by Politico, a Justice Department spokeswoman revealed that officials there were aware of the letter made by bipartisan lawmakers but refused to provide any comment about it.
Back in February, a bipartisan group of senators pointed out that Chinese news outlets operating in the United States should also be required to register under FARA.
While the main goal was to register every single Chinese outlet that was controlled by the communist regime, senators said only the distributor for a Chinese regime-owned newspaper called China Daily is currently registered.
Apparently, the evolving campaign by the lawmakers to press Al Jazeera to register under FARA has drawn several reports over the last few weeks by the Huffington Post and the Washington Free Beacon.
The letter of the status of Al Jazeera is set to be delivered as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual Washington policy conference convenes.
As the Conservative Daily Post reported in a previous article, this whole situation comes amid a pitched battle over claims that this Qatari outlet spied on American Jews and supporters of the Jewish State of Israel. The lawmakers who initially made this move were Lee Zeldin and Josh Gottheimer.
According to Politico, Al Jazeera illegally spied on these U.S. citizens in order to make a documentary about the alleged Jewish influence on the United States government.
In addition, this magazine pointed out that some pro-Israel groups have sought to put pressure on Qatar over the last few months in order to prevent the publication of the documentary or to vet its contents.
The letter of the lawmakers specifically urges the Justice Department to explore the entire range of activities undertaken by the Qatari outlet in the United States, including several reports that it infiltrated “American 501(c)(3) and (c)(4) nonprofit organizations.”