The NYT and BBC articles about the Iraq The Model blog have spawned further debate on the credibility of the Fadhil brothers, with articles now appearing at Antiwar.com, the Houston Chronicle, Big News Network and further comments from Juan Cole. Let me know of any others you see.
Here's what Cole said today about Iraq The Model:
I became suspicious of the original site when they mysteriously attacked Rashid Khalidi and me for simply pointing out that Fallujah had had a long history of anti-British political agitation during the 1920s and the monarchy, something which is well known in Iraqi history and about which there is famous nationalist poetry. They depended on a secondary source by a sociologist to question something that shows up in numerous historical sources. Being dentists, of course, they don't know their way around the British archives and don't realize that secondary works aren't exhaustive. So it was strange that they were questioning something that every informed Iraqi knows, and which is attested in British sources. And it was strange that they went after Khalidi, a Palestinian- American and an eminent historian who opposed the Iraq war.I am still banned from Iraq The Model, so I have asked Ali to respond to my allegations, which have never been properly addressed ("you suck, gandhi" is not a proper response).
What really seems to bother the Right bloggers is that the defection of Ali Fadhil introduced doubt and ambiguity into their closed little world in which American Iraq is a virtual paradise and real Iraqis are all tickled pink to have been occupied by a Western army. There has been excellent professional opinion polling in Iraq by Gallup and the State Department that demonstrates that the original IraqTheModel site's views were far out of the Iraqi mainstream.
For American observers concerned with Iraq not to realize how truly awful the situation is, and to fail to understand that the US faces a grave crisis if key policies are not changed, makes them poor Americans. The United States is a democracy and a democracy only works if the citizens are informed and exercise their faculties of critical reason. Looking for token pro-American Iraqis to say nice things while ignoring all the evidence of US failure is pitiful...
UPDATE: I JUST POSTED A COMMENT ON THIS AT ALI's "FREE IRAQI" BLOG: MY POST WAS REMOVED AND I WAS IMMEDIATELY BANNED. I HAVE BEEN BANNED FROM POSTING AT IRAQ THE MODEL AS WELL. SO PLEASE POST COMMENTS ON MY BEHALF AND DEMAND THAT THESE QUESTIONS BE ANSWERED!
Here are my questions for ali, Omar and Mohammed Fadhil:
1. Were the Fahdil brothers aware that Spirit of America was set up and supported by Cyber Century Forum, a group dedicated to spreading US influence worldwide, particularly covert cyber-intelligence measures?
2. Were you aware that Cyber Century Forum holds 100K stocks in oil companies Schlumberger Ltd and Transocean Sedco? As Iraqis, (supposedly) - do you have a problem with that?
3. Did you know that 2 of the 3 members of Cyber Century Forum are also members of a top-level think-tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which is also dedidicated to spreading US influence? Do you have a problem with that?
4. Who are the Americans trying to use ITM for partisan political or other purposes, whom Ali said "made me feel I'm on the wrong side here"? Why did Ali not go to the USA? What happened over there? (Note that Ali's comments came BEFORE his brothers met with Bush and Wolfowitz, so the NYT explanation is not valid.)
5. How do you expect to garner support from ordinary Iraqis during the election process if you do not even try to refute these very serious allegations? Why don't you just come right out and admit that you are working hand-in-glove with the CIA?
6. Are you aware that Spirit of America is a client of Direct Impact, a "grassroots marketing" organisation, whose marketing involves creating a "Buzz" by getting seemingly ordinary people (or better yet, influential people) to promote a product by word-of-mouth. Do you receive any money from Direct Marketing?
7. Did you know that Lady Diana Dougan, one of three members of Cyber Century forum, is also on the board of directors at Qualcomm, a US company which won the contract to deliver Iraq's lucrative new mobile phone network (despite the questionable bidding process and Qualcomm's unpopular CDMA technology).