The New York Times reports today on how the New York Police Department and the producers behind a controversial film are stonewalling on why the movie was screened to NYPD officers. The Times reports:
In January 2011, when news broke that the department had used the film in training, a top police official denied it, then said it had been mistakenly screened “a couple of times” for a few officers.
A year later, police documents obtained under the state’s Freedom of Information Law reveal a different reality: “The Third Jihad,” which includes an interview with Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, was shown, according to internal police reports, “on a continuous loop” for between three months and one year of training.
During that time, at least 1,489 police officers, from lieutenants to detectives to patrol officers, saw the film.
The film, the Third Jihad, was created by the shadowy Clarion Fund, which did not return the Times’ requests for comment.
Coupling today’s Times report, ThinkProgress is releasing a list of grants [PDF] directed to the Clarion Fund. The document, which discloses that Manhattan attorney Allen I. Gross contributed $100,000 to the Clarion Fund in 2007, is the most comprehensive mapping of Clarion’s donor base to date.
Clarion burst onto the scene in 2006 with the movie Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West. In 2008, more than 20 million copies of the film were distributed to homes in presidential election swing states thanks to a $17 million donation, reportedly by right-wing and GOP donor Barre Seid. (Another U.S. group that aided the release later denied involvement but was found to be misleading reporters in order to cover up its role. The head of the group now sits on Clarion’s advisory board.)
But the Third Jihad is not Clarion’s latest project: its focus since shifted to Iran with the 2011 doc Iranium. Written and directed by Alex Traiman, “Iranium” prominently features hawkish experts from two right-wing Washington think tanks, Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Clarion’s ongoing production of Islamophobic films and nearly continuous screenings of Iranium no doubt requires constant fundraising efforts. As highlighted in the Center for American Progress’ report, “Fear, Inc.,” the Islamophobia network — including Clarion — raises large sums of money from a combination of high-profile and under-the-radar donors.
As Mother Jones’s Adam Serwer noted, the Times articles said Clarion’s “Obsession” film “attracted support from the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a major supporter of Israel who has helped reshape the Republican presidential primary by pouring millions of dollars into a so-called super PAC that backs Newt Gingrich.” But the Times didn’t delineate how Adelson supported the endeavor.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg slammed the NYPD for screening “The Third Jihad.” “Somebody exercised some terrible judgment,” the AP reports Bloomberg as saying. “As soon as they found out about it, they stopped it.”
In a blast e-mail to apparent financial supporters entitled “Our Film on the Cover of the New York Times,” Clarion Fund founder Raphael Shore brags about the group’s “tremendous exposure” in the New York Times:
The article is yet another badge of honor for the Clarion Fund in our efforts to educate Americans about threats emanating from radical Islam. Your contributions to spread the message are being put to good use.