Numerous media outlets echoed Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales's criticisms of former Vice President Al Gore's January 16 speech, which was highly critical of President Bush's authorization of warrantless domestic espionage in apparent violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Gonzales argued that Gore was being "inconsistent" because the Clinton administration did the same thing; in fact, Clinton's use of warrantless physical searches, which Gonzales cited, did not violate FISA because at the time FISA did not address physical searches.
In a conversation with Radio Factor host Bill O'Reilly about President Bush's secret authorization of warrantless domestic wiretapping, Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew P. Napolitano asked: "Would you feel this way if Hillary [Clinton] were president?" Napolitano then added: "Because then you know the pro-life and the pro-gun will -- they'll be targets of warrantless searches. ... And maybe conservative commentators will be targets of warrantless searches."
MSNBC's Hardball host Chris Matthews asserted that illegally spying on Americans in an effort to track down terrorists was "maybe ... part of the job" of the president of the United States.
CBS, the Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post reported without challenge the disputed claim that President Bush has the legal authority to instruct the National Security Agency to conduct electronic surveillance of people in the United States without obtaining warrants.
Rush Limbaugh baselessly claimed that "Americans were not spied on without a warrant" through President Bush's controversial electronic surveillance program. In fact, the program is controversial precisely because evidence suggests that Bush authorized the National Security Agency to spy on people within the United States without obtaining warrants.
A January 10 Wall Street Journal editorial presented as fact misleading and disputed assertions about President Bush's authorization of warrantless domestic surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency.
CNN's Jeffrey Toobin corrected a previous misstatement that Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. was in the majority of the Doe v. Groody decision, a 2003 case involving the physical and visual search of a 10-year-old girl. In fact, Alito dissented in the case, while the majority ruled that the search went beyond the scope of the warrant, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
For the second time in a week, nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court denied the FBI a warrant to search the laptop computer of Zacarias Moussaoui. But in fact, the FBI never petitioned the court for a warrant after bureau attorneys determined they did not have sufficient evidence.
CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin falsely claimed that Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. was in the majority on a three-judge panel when he said that the physical and visual search of a 10-year-old girl and her mother was legal. In fact, Alito dissented from the majority opinion, which ruled that the search was illegal.
Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes falsely claimed that public polling shows "support" for the National Security Agency's warrantless domestic spy program. In fact, an AP/Ipsos poll released January 6 shows that 56 percent of Americans said the Bush administration "[s]hould ... be required to get a warrant from a judge before monitoring phone and internet communications between American citizens in the United States and suspected terrorists."
CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin suggested that "the Democrats may be looking for trouble" if they criticize the Bush administration's warrantless spying program during the Alito hearings, falsely stating that the public supports the administration's program
Kris Kobach, a University of Missouri-Kansas City law professor and former aide to Attorney General John Ashcroft, falsely claimed that four appeals court decisions confirmed that it is legal for the president to authorize warrantless domestic surveillance. A January 4 Washington Times editorial made a similar claim.
Fox News' Jim Angle reported on how, hypothetically, domestic eavesdropping could be done without violating FISA, even though the reality of the Bush administration eavesdropping program reportedly conflicts with Angle's scenario.
Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court prevented the FBI from accessing the laptop computer of Zacarias Moussaoui -- the alleged "20th hijacker" in the September 11, 2001, terrorist plot -- immediately prior to the attacks. In fact, the Moussaoui case never reached the FISA court.
Gary Schmitt of the American Enterprise Institute falsely claimed, in an article in the The Weekly Standard, that FISA prevented the government from getting warrants in the Zacarias Moussaoui and Wen Ho Lee cases, even though formal reviews of those cases determined that it was misinterpretation of FISA, not the law itself, that prevented the FBI from getting the warrants in question.