CNN's Kitty Pilgrim uncritically repeated White House senior adviser Karl Rove's dubious claim that the Bush administration's warrantless domestic wiretapping program "might have prevented" the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In fact, the Bush administration had information on two of the 9-11 hijackers more than a year before the attacks occurred, and according to the 9-11 Commission and congressional investigators, it was primarily bureaucratic problems -- rather than a lack of information -- that resulted in their escaping detection.
An Associated Press article uncritically repeated Karl Rove's assertion that the Bush administration's warrantless domestic wiretapping program "might have prevented the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks," even though law enforcement officials had information on some of the 9-11 hijackers more than a year before the attacks occurred. The article also accepted Rove's characterization of the debate over the program as whether "the government should be free to listen if al-Qaida is calling someone within the U.S.," although critics of the program have not contested this point.
On Your World, Neil Cavuto suggested that the British have "been pragmatic" in their efforts to combat terrorism and that they have enacted some counterterrorism laws that would be unconstitutional in the United States because the British "have a tradition of wanting to live."
On The Radio Factor and Hannity & Colmes, Dick Morris repeated the false claim that critics of the Bush administration's warrantless domestic wiretapping program, including many Democrats, oppose any wiretapping of suspected terrorists and question the legality of wiretapping in general.
McClatchy Newspapers misleadingly reported that legislation proposed by Sen. Arlen Specter is "intended to put the surveillance program under the jurisdiction of a special court established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [FISA]." In fact, under a deal reached between the White House and congressional Republicans on the legislation, the president has the option of asking the FISA court to review the program. CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin claimed that the Specter bill would "be a compromise" on the domestic surveillance program; many Democrats and progressives, however, have called the Specter bill an "end run" around FISA.
Bill O'Reilly baselessly claimed that the federal judge who struck down the Bush administration's warrantless domestic wiretapping program "would oppose every anti-terror measure the Bush administration has put in just because they are the Bush administration." In fact, the judge made a ruling in the administration's favor, dismissing the claim that the National Security Agency's "data-mining practices" are unconstitutional.
After a federal judge recently struck down the Bush administration's warrantless domestic wiretapping program, some media figures have repeated the false Republican charge that critics of the program are opposed to wiretapping in general. In fact, critics of the program say that the Bush administration is violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by conducting surveillance of U.S. citizens and legal residents without obtaining a warrant from the FISA court
CNN correspondent Elaine Quijano uncritically reported a dubious statement by President Bush suggesting a link between a recent terror plot in Britain and the administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program. And host Wolf Blitzer did not identify the program as warrantless, although it is the administration's failure to obtain warrants to conduct surveillance on U.S. persons that is the issue in controversy and the reason a judge struck down the program.
On MSNBC's Hardball, Chris Matthews again falsely suggested that critics of the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program are opposed to all wiretapping of terrorist suspects. In fact, critics have accused the Bush administration of violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by conducting surveillance of U.S. citizens and legal residents without obtaining a warrant.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Lou Dobbs, and Kelli Arena characterized a judge's ruling that the Bush administration's warrantless domestic spying program is unconstitutional as a serious blow to the administration's efforts to combat terrorists. But it's not at all clear that the administration must violate the law to protect the country or that warrantless domestic wiretapping has been effective in combating terrorists.
Despite several reports that the recently foiled London terrorist plot had no connections to the United States, The New York Times, CNN, and Fox News uncritically repeated Republican assertions that the Bush administration's warrantless domestic wiretapping program played a role in the plot's breakup.
An ABC World News report on a federal district judge's ruling that the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program is unconstitutional featured only Bush administration officials and a senior research fellow from the conservative Heritage Foundation defending the "necessity" of the program. The report did not note that the program's effectiveness has been called into question.
Media outlets have uncritically reported the comments of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, who, during interviews, have asserted that U.S. laws on detaining suspected terrorists should be modeled after British laws that allow the United Kingdom to detain a suspected terrorist for up to 28 days without charges. However, none of the media outlets noted the administration's expanded use of material witness warrants to detain people for indefinite periods.
Chris Matthews conflated Islamic terrorists with those "who may be politically on the left," and presented a false choice between "honoring civil rights" and "tap[ping]" terrorists' "phones," suggesting that "honoring civil rights" could lead to "the deaths of thousands of people." Matthews also discussed the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race, in which his brother is the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor.