MSNBC host Dan Abrams failed to challenge the assertion of Kris W. Kobach, a constitutional law professor and former counsel to former Attorney General John Ashcroft, that President Bush's controversial domestic spying program dealt only with "very targeted" calls. In fact, recent media reports indicate that the program has cast a broad net, monitoring thousands of people with no relationship to Al Qaeda.
In his nationally syndicated column, the Media Research Center's Brent Bozell drew a false comparison between the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program and Bill Clinton's call for expanding anti-terror legislation following the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. In drawing the comparison, Bozell ignored key distinctions: Clinton publicly called for Congress to pass legislation; Bush secretly authorized a clandestine surveillance program without informing the public or seeking congressional approval.
Bill O'Reilly claimed that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was "set up to prevent ... criminal abuses" and does not address wartime. In fact, FISA contains specific wartime provisions.
Chris Matthews claimed that a comment made by President Bush in April 2004 that "[a]ny time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires ... a court order" was "pre-9-11."
A February 6 New York Times article by reporter Scott Shane reprinted, without challenge, a Republican senator's defense of President Bush's warrantless domestic spying program, failing to note reports that, contrary to Sen. Pat Roberts's claims, the Bush program has intercepted the communications of people in the United States with no apparent connection to Al Qaeda.
An International Herald Tribune article -- also published on The New York Times' website -- asserted that some Democrats who had been briefed on the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program before it was publicly revealed "say" they "expressed concerns or objections" at the time -- suggesting that their claims are the only evidence that they did in fact express concern. The report ignored a letter written more than two years ago by the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee describing his "lingering concerns" about the program.
On The O'Reilly Factor, guest host Tony Snow repeated the false claim that Valerie Plame's husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, said his wife "wasn't covert for six years" before she was exposed as a CIA operative by Robert Novak in a July 14, 2003, column. In fact, Wilson never made such a statement.
During an interview on Fox News Sunday, Fox News' Chris Wallace failed to challenge Gen. Michael Hayden when he defended the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program by claiming that in order to undertake domestic surveillance without a warrant, the National Security Agency must have evidence "in the probable cause range." Hayden's statement appears to be in direct contradiction to an earlier statement he made, in which he said the program requires a "reasonable basis" standard that he admitted is "a bit softer than it is for a FISA warrant."
Stating on Meet the Press that Americans support President Bush's domestic spying program, Tim Russert selectively cited data from an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll to prove his point. Russert cited a question about whether people support Bush's "approach" to the domestic spying program, while ignoring poll questions regarding privacy concerns raised by the program and whether warrants should have been obtained before wiretapping.
Fox News' Jim Angle falsely claimed that Democrats initially objected to the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program because they opposed eavesdropping on people believed to be tied to terrorist activity but then made a "shift in strategy" to argue, as Charles Krauthammer put it, "a narrow issue of legality." Krauthammer further suggested that Democrats engaged in a "wholesale retreat" after recognizing that "opposing the idea of listening in on an Al Qaeda call into the U.S. is not a political winner."
Fox News chief Washington correspondent Jim Angle repeated the discredited claim that the National Security Agency's (NSA) warrantless domestic surveillance program led to the arrest of Al Qaeda accomplice Iyman Faris, a naturalized U.S. citizen who pleaded guilty in 2003 to plotting to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge. However, a January 17 New York Times report indicated that information gleaned from the warrantless NSA eavesdropping did not play "a significant role" in Faris's capture.
A Washington Times editorial on President Bush's State of the Union address adopted the White House's terminology for its warrantless domestic surveillance program, dubbing it the "terrorist surveillance program."
Keith Olbermann again awarded Bill O'Reilly third-place honors in his nightly "Worst Person in the World" segment, this time for accusing CNN's Christiane Amanpour of having a "rooting interest" in the Iraq war being a disaster.
During an interview with Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, CNN Justice Department correspondent Kelli Arena failed to question Gonzales about his 2005 confirmation hearing, in which he responded to a question from Sen. Russ Feingold about whether the president could authorize warrantless domestic wiretaps. At the hearing, Gonzales suggested that Feingold had described a "hypothetical situation," despite the fact that the warrantless surveillance program had been in place since 2001 and that President Bush had reauthorized it numerous times.
CNN national security correspondent David Ensor suggested that Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV was disingenuous in his criticism of the Bush administration's apparent failure to fully inform Congress about its warrantless domestic surveillance program because he had been briefed on the program in 2003. But Ensor failed to note that, immediately after being briefed, Rockefeller wrote a letter to Vice President Dick Cheney expressing strong reservations about the program and restrictions on information he needed to evaluate it.