How often is it that one hour of TV viewing can annoy terrorists, the New York Times, and Human Rights Watch? Take advantage of this infrequent confluence by watching "The Wanted" on NBC tonight at 9/8 c. Here's the premise:
Eight years after the Sept. 11 attacks and the beginning of the war on terror, leaders and supporters of terrorist organizations still lead free and open lives around the world. More than a decade after the Rwandan genocide, its practitioners still roam the United States. The government seems unable - and sometimes unwilling - to change this state of affairs. NBC's new program "The Wanted" aims to push the issue, entertaining audiences while bringing the accused to justice: Its team of terrorist trackers hops the globe collecting evidence about its targets in order to persuade extradition-shy countries to stop dragging their feet. The team consists of former Green Beret Roger Carstens, former Navy SEAL Scott Tyler, war-crimes prosecutor David Crane and producer-journalist Adam Ciralsky. In the series premiere last week, the team went after the founder of Ansar al-Islam - which the State Department lists as a terrorist organization - who lives freely in Oslo and has yet to be extradited to Kurdistan to stand trial.
Tonight, the show goes after Mamoun Darkazanli. From the synopsis of tonight's episode:
Called "Bin Laden's financier," Spanish officials indicted Darkazanli in 2003 for providing logistical and financial support to Al Qaeda, specifically in connection with 9/11. Still he remains free in Germany. While the team surveils Darkazanli, negotiations for his deportation begin between Spain and Germany.
The Left is predictably squeamish about the projection of American moral authority via flashy extra-governmental investigations, and the unfairness and psychic pain such uncouth behavior might cause murderous terrorists and the Euro-wimpy bureaucracies that harbor them. They're not nearly as concerned about terrorists and accused perpetrators human rights violations living freely in Western countries with impunity. Case in point: Later in the season, "The Wanted" tracks down a Goucher College professor who is also an indicted war criminal. Leopold Munyakazi, whose Interpol notice can be found here, taught freshman French and was also accused of participating in Rwanda's genocide. Goucher's president claims he only became aware of the professor's legal problems after he was confronted by "The Wanted," and Munyakazi denies involvement in the genocide, claiming he helped Tutsis escape from Hutu killers. The Rwandan government has asked to have Munyakazi returned. The Department of Homeland Security has arrested him, and is in the process of having him deported while building their own genocide case against him. Some in the media have alleged that the involvement of "The Wanted" in this case is an example of how it can endanger in-progress federal cases against such accused criminals, which is among the more reasonable worries about the show. On the other hand, the New York Times, Goucher's president, and Human Rights Watch have all combined for copious hand-wringing about what this jump-starting of the justice system might mean for Munyakazi. They're not nearly as concerned about a suspected war criminal was teaching students at an American university, which had apparently not done even the most cursory of checks into his background. The Office of the Prosecutor General in Rwanda has dinged Human Rights Watch's statements on Munyakazi's case as "unfounded because they have never reviewed this evidence nor provided alternative information in this regard." The lack of perspective is about par for the course for Human Rights Watch, which has just recently been raising money from the human-rights-impaired Saudis on the strength of its talent for bashing Israel. On the other hand, America's special-ops community approves of the show:
"Initially, they were very suspicious of [the show] because they thought it was Hollywood trying to make something dramatic out of this situation," said one person in the Department of Defense's special operations community who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of his position. "They thought these guys were going to be out bagging and tagging folks and violating all kinds of laws and it was going to turn into a fiasco. ... Everyone I've talked to said that it was well done, didn't reveal a lot of our trade secrets - if you will - and left me feeling that somebody's doing something about a problem we all know exists and, frankly, we can't do anything about," he added.
As do some politicians, who believe the show is giving light to usually obscured bureaucracies and challenges involved in terrorist-fighting:
After a screening at the Capitol, Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, Missouri Republican, said she was upset over the problems that the show exposed. "It's always frustrating to deal with the bureaucracy, and it's frustrating to watch the show and watch all that they had to go through," she said.
All the right people hate it, and all the right people like it. I'm in, tonight at 9 p.m.
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