Tuesday, February 16, 2016

How the Center for Medical Progress should have been treated

A still from the first Center for Medical Progress video 
Abortion advocates have put forward a number of supposedly neutral reasons for attacking the Center for Medical Progress. It's not just because they're pro-life, they insist. Using a fake identity is wrong. Or They're activists, not journalists, so it's different. Or They should have immediately released the full footage; releasing summaries of the most damning statements is deceptive.

All of that is baloney. How do I know? Because when another activist organization recently released a video summary of its undercover investigations, it was welcomed with open arms and no controversy whatsoever.

The organization is Global Witness, and to be absolutely clear, I am not criticizing them in any way, shape, or form. They are fighting for a great cause. In their words:
Global Witness has previously looked at a whole range of crimes, and found they all had one thing in common. They were all carried out by anonymous company owners, who are able to skirt U.S. laws and launder money through our financial system. If these sham companies did not exist, those crimes would be far harder to commit. 
Anonymous companies do great damage to society. Warlords and dictators use them to steal from their people and stash the loot in places like the U.S. A violent Mexican drug cartel called the Zetas used American companies to launder its profits. The Iranian government has used them to evade sanctions. Credit card scammers, mobsters, tax evaders and other criminals routinely use them to rip off innocent citizens or threaten U.S. interests and get away with it.
The crazy thing is, these companies are often set up in the U.S. - it is one of the easiest places in the world to do this legally.

To prove our point, we went undercover and approached 13 New York law firms. We deliberately posed as someone designed to raise red flags for money laundering. We said we were advising an African minister who had accumulated millions of dollars, and we wanted to buy a Gulfstream Jet, a brownstone and a yacht. We said we needed to get the money into the U.S. without detection. 
To be clear, the meetings with the lawyers were all preliminary. None of the law firms took our investigator on as a client, and no money was moved.
Nonetheless, the results were shocking; all but one of the the lawyers had suggestions on how to move the funds.
The parallels to the Center for Medical Progress investigation are uncanny. Just like CMP, Global Witness used undercover actors who lied about their true intentions. Just like CMP, they caught it all on video. And just like CMP, they went to the press and public with short "worst of" videos, while making an extended report available on their website for those interested in learning more.

But when we turn to how the Global Witness report was received, the parallels break down. Here's how the New York Times covered the story:
"It wasn't hard to find lawyers to suggest ways to move suspect funds into the United States," said Stephanie Ostfeld. "We went undercover because it is the only way we could show what really happens behind closed doors. The findings speak for themselves - something urgently needs to change."
The article accepts this statement at face value.
This week, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is planning to introduce a bill in the House of Representatives to require more transparency into shell companies nationwide.
Bipartisan? You don't say!

True, the New York Times also quoted the lawyers involved trying to explain away their videotaped comments, which is entirely appropriate. But you don't get the impression that the Times is on their side like it's on Planned Parenthood's side. Certainly no one suggests indicting Ms. Ostfeld.

File this under "abortion distortion."

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