As'ad AbuKhalil has worked for the CIA. That's not a mischief nor is it something dishonorable; the agency is a huge bureaucracy and it often commissions different tasks from different experts, and AbuKhalil identifies as someone who knows about the Middle East.
Washington is a small town and these types of activities are difficult to conceal. Yet due to non-disclosure protocols, no one who has seen AbuKhalil at any CIA function can share this information publicly without risk of legal action.
Even so, many in Washington have long seen or heard rumors of AbuKhalil’s attendance at Langley-sponsored events. And AbuKhalil routinely posted about his trips to Washington on his frequently updated blog – but he rarely shared what kind of activity he was engaged in during these trips.
So whenever AbuKhalil lobbed accusations against anyone he disagreed with, those familiar with his activities in Washington knew he was a hypocrite. But only until today was evidence finally uncovered after Syrian activist Ahed al-Hendi, while perusing through public records on the Internet, discovered that AbuKhalil had been paid by the CIA.
Although AbuKhalil's position as a "host" may not be senior enough or even relevant to the work of the agency, the fact that he has been cleared to work at Langley, has actually done so, and has managed to hide it all these years, tells us something about his character.
AbuKhalil – the staunch anti-imperialist, anti-White Man freedom fighter – quickly realized that this revelation would be a damaging one. He swiftly contacted al-Hendi in an attempt to nip the problem in its bud.
"You are endangering my life with your distortions and lies. You can go to jail for something like that and I will sue you and drag you to court," AbuKhalil wrote via email. "I will give you till tomorrow otherwise I will notify my lawyer and Facebook […] My lawyer says you have an hour."
Notice AbuKhalil, who has long insisted that he is the most transparent man on the planet and would post anything that he would get his hands on, makes no effort to explain why public records indicate he was paid by the CIA.
Instead, AbuKhalil sounded scared for his life, perhaps because during the craze of the Global War on Terror, he was consulted on Islamist movements, judging by his book on the subject. Or perhaps AbuKhalil’s other employers, like pro-Hezbollah Beirut newspaper Al-Akhbar, knew of such links and were happy to see one of them bash their rivals at Langley.
As for what work AbuKhalil did for the CIA, no one can be sure due to non-disclosure protocol and the fear of legal suit. But thanks to al-Hendi, we now have proof that the Lebanese-American professor has worked with the CIA, no matter how small his involvement.
What AbuKhalil did for the CIA is his business. But what is our business is to show that the man who swears on his honor about his anti-Americanism, and continuously bashes others for being pro-America, clearly has a few skeletons in his closet.
If you are a US citizen, working for the government, including the CIA, is an honorable task. Indeed, Americans are required to recite the pledge of allegiance, and this entails doing whatever it takes to defend the homeland. But the problem with AbuKhalil is that his apparent insecurity about being an American citizen has led him on frequent anti-American crusades.
Maybe it is the Lebanese political culture that has forced AbuKhalil to perfect his trademark ad hominem attacks that blast people’s characters instead of their ideas. Perhaps the only way a man of AbuKhalil’s intellect to be heard is to propagate offensive and populist rhetoric while carrying out his punditry gigs.
AbuKhalil's academic credentials are weak anyways. The sheer amount of time he must spend away from his professorial duties on blogs, social media, and TV appearances make many wonder whether his scholarly work is even diligent or credible.
For those who meet him, AbuKhalil seems like a humble guy. Yet for someone with his background and position, he should know better. AbuKhalil should be more respectful when making his points, and he should do them without slandering others.
No one cares whether AbuKhalil actually worked, or still works, for the CIA. No one cares about his social background or preferences. No one cares who sends him his paychecks or why. What many care about is for him to stop his populism and stop spewing unsubstantiated claims about the character and integrity of those he disagrees with.
Hussain Abdul-Hussain is the Washington Bureau Chief of Kuwaiti newspaper Alrai. He tweets @hahussain