The White House, the American Civil Liberties Union, that “idiot” the British Prime Minister, the United Nations, the FBI, CIA, State Department, New York Times, Washington Post, National Public Radio, CNN, and the Internal Revenue Service.

It’s not often you hear them – and a lot of other governments and organizations as well – lumped together as part of the same problem.

But they were on Wednesday night when self-made counterterrorism expert Steve Emerson addressed the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center Summer Institute, as the first of their speakers for 2007.

All the above-mentioned parties were, to some degree or other, put forward as dupes of an international Islamic terrorist movement by Mr. Emerson. Titled Defending the Homeland, his talk might equally have been called The End of Hope.

Not everyone he mentioned came out of it badly. He enumerated some half-dozen Islamic leaders around the nation and the world whom he did not consider extremists. But then he said they had no constituencies. And he lauded the Fox News network as intellectually honest.

Given Betsy Sheer’s stated intent as the new chairman of the summer institute to bring more controversy to the speaker series, the first night could be counted as a success.

She introduced Mr. Emerson as being neither shy and retiring nor tactful, and he lived up to the billing. He was combative with questioners and unambiguous in his pronouncements.

He also had requested no press coverage.

Mr. Emerson is the executive director of the Investigative Project, a data gathering center on Islamic groups, and the author of several books and documentaries on the threat posed by Islamic extremism.

He said he first got into the business of counterterrorism on Christmas Day 1992, when he happened upon a meeting in downtown Oklahoma City of thousands of Islamic activists.

“What I stumbled into was something the FBI had not even realized was taking place,” he told the audience. “It was a radical Islamic conference, boasting representatives of every radical terrorist organization, from Hamas to Islamic Jihad to the precursor to al Qaeda.”

But he said he could not interest the FBI, or his employer at the time (CNN), or the Washington Post in his story.


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