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As “The Wanted” Chases Terrorists, Controversy Follows

Wanted_7.14.JPGThe NYTimes’ Brian Stelter takes a hard look at NBC News’ new summer series “The Wanted.” Debuting Monday, the show is “a dramatic new television format for the so-called age of terror: conducting international manhunts for suspected terrorists and war criminals,” Stelter writes, “filming them and selling the finished product to television networks around the world. Its first bidder is NBC News.”

Some have called the series an extension of “To Catch a Predator,” the “Dateline” franchise during which correspondent Chris Hansen and the group Perverted Justice worked alongside police officers to catch possible sex offenders as they tried to hook-up with minors.

Jane E. Kirtley, a professor of media ethics and law at the University of Minnesota, said she was stunned that NBC would use some of the same tactics that led to the harsh criticism of the “Predator” series. When she first learned of the new program, she “thought it was something that The Onion was doing as satirical summer silliness,” referring to the satirical newspaper.

In an NBC press release, Dateline EP David Corvo says, “We hope this program sheds light on an overlooked story. It is surprising how many people with serious accusations against them are living openly and avoiding any sort of judicial process.”

“‘The Wanted’ is about seeking justice for the many victims of terrorism and atrocity around the world,” says David Crane, a decorated former US intelligence official who is working alongside NBC News producer Adam Ciralsky (center in photo) on the project. And it’s that cooperation that has critics wondering.

When Stelter asked
Lucy Dalglish
, the executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press about the series, she asked, “Is this supposed to be journalism?”

Read more about “The Wanted” in the NBC press release after the jump…


NBC NEWS PRESENTS: “THE WANTED” TO BEGIN AIRING MONDAY, JULY 20

A Groundbreaking Television Event Will Bring Viewers on an International Hunt for an Accused Terrorist

June 30, 2009, New York, N.Y. – On Monday, July 20, join NBC News for a groundbreaking television event when it sets forth on an international hunt for an accused terrorist with “The Wanted” at 10 PM ET.

“The Wanted” brings together an elite team with backgrounds in intelligence, unconventional warfare and investigative journalism. The show focuses on real operators, in search of real targets — all in an effort to see individuals brought to justice.

“We hope this program sheds light on an overlooked story,” said David Corvo, executive producer at NBC News. “It is surprising how many people with serious accusations against them are living openly and avoiding any sort of judicial process.”

The faces of “The Wanted” include Roger Carstens who is recognized as one of the world’s preeminent authorities on counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency; former Navy Seal Scott Tyler, an expert in urban reconnaissance and unconventional warfare; David Crane a decorated former US intelligence official and the first American to serve as Chief Prosecutor of an international war crimes tribunal since Justice Robert Jackson at Nuremberg; and Emmy award-winning investigative journalist Adam Ciralsky. Ciralsky also serves as co-executive producer of “The Wanted” with documentary filmmaker Charlie Ebersol.

“‘The Wanted’ is about seeking justice for the many victims of terrorism and atrocity around the world,” said Crane. “It will start a national conversation, an important dialog about war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and international terrorism, as well as the indifference and political cynicism that hampers international criminal law and the quest for justice. ‘The Wanted’ drives home the point that the rule of law is more powerful than the rule of the gun.”

The July 20 episode follows Mullah Krekar, the founder and leader of Ansar Al Islam, an internationally designated terrorist organization that has been accused of killing hundreds of Americans and other Westerners. Krekar has been called “Bin Laden 2.0″ as well as an “Islamic Nazi” and yet he has been living free in Norway — this after the Norwegian Supreme Court declared him a threat to national security and ordered him deported. In “The Wanted,” viewers will be taken inside intelligence briefings in the Middle East and surveillance operations in Krekar’s community in Oslo.

On July 27, viewers will travel to Germany on the trail of Mamoun Darkazanli. 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.

Executive Producers and Co-Creators Charlie Ebersol and Adam Ciralsky said, “We are excited about our groundbreaking new TV project ‘The Wanted’ on NBC, and know that viewers will be intrigued by the show.” Ebersol and Ciralsky added, “It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen on TV before. The pairing of rigorous investigative journalism with high-end production values has resulted in a fast-paced show which we hope will leave viewers wanting more.”

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