On NBC's Today, Philadelphia-based radio host Michael Smerconish falsely claimed that "no one died at Abu Ghraib" -- a detention facility operated by U.S. forces in Iraq -- and that the abuse of prisoners by U.S. personnel at Abu Ghraib was merely "a lot of ridiculous actions ... carried out by nine knuckleheads." Additionally, in a report that aired repeatedly on CNN, senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre falsely reported that "[n]one of the abused prisoners at Abu Ghraib died." In fact, detainee Manadel al-Jamadi reportedly died at Abu Ghraib during an interrogation by CIA personnel on November 4, 2003. The Pentagon has labeled al-Jamadi's death a "homicide," indicating that it resulted from the treatment he received at the prison -- not from natural causes.
Various conservative media figures have attacked Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA) for his recent appearances on ABC's Good Morning America and This Week, in which Murtha addressed the alleged murder of Iraqi civilians by U.S. Marines at the Iraqi town of Haditha. Fox News hosts Bill O'Reilly and Neil Cavuto, among others, accused Murtha of "bomb-throwing" and "bashing" the military. In fact, Murtha, who had been briefed on the matter, limited his criticisms to those allegedly involved in the incident and the reported cover-up.
During his "My Word" segment on Fox News' The Big Story, John Gibson sought to downplay the significance of recent allegations that U.S. Marines contributed to the deaths of innocent civilians in the Iraqi town of Haditha, stating that while "I'm against massacres of civilians ... [i]f Iraqis know their own history, they know massacres have been committed in Iraq by warring parties for millennia piled on millennia."
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On Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, guest host Terry Keenan asked if the riots that occurred in Kabul, Afghanistan, were the work of "a small group of troublemakers" or whether "the Afghan people [are] simply ungrateful?" During the segment, onscreen text read "Afghan Ingrates?" and "Is Afghanistan being Ungrateful Towards America?"
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Fox News' Sean Hannity falsely claimed that President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair said they believe that in 18 months, "the new [Iraqi] prime minister [Nuri Kamal al-Maliki] will have security forces capable of taking control of all Iraqi provinces." But neither Bush nor Blair made such a statement. Responding to a reporter's question about whether it is "realistic to think that Iraqi forces will be able to take control of all Iraq by the end of next year," Bush did not address the issue, while Blair merely said it is "possible."
For at least the third time, Fox News' Jim Angle repeated misleading characterizations of the National Security Agency's (NSA) domestic surveillance program.
CNN's Lou Dobbs stated that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert "told CNN Iran could make a nuclear bomb within months." Dobbs was referring to an interview CNN host Wolf Blitzer conducted with Olmert, in which Olmert stated: "The question is when will [Iran] cross the technological line that will allow them at any given time, within six or eight months, to have nuclear bomb?" and answered his own question, asserting that the "threshold ... can be measured by months, rather than years." But Dobbs neglected to mention that the U.S. intelligence community disagrees with Olmert's assessment.
On Fox News' Journal Editorial Report, Wall Street Journal editorial board member Robert Pollock falsely claimed that former undersecretary of defense Douglas J. Feith "was more right than the CIA" about "Saddam's links to Al Qaeda." In fact, Feith's assertions that Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein had an operational relationship have been downplayed by the Department of Defense, discredited by the 9-11 Commission, and contradicted by various other sources as documented in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Newsweek.
On Today, Kelly O'Donnell uncritically reported President Bush's claim that the formation of a new government in Iraq is a "fundamental change." Similarly, the Associated Press' Nedra Pickler noted that Bush "embraced the new leadership in Iraq as a turning point in the war." In fact, the Bush administration has touted several purportedly pivotal moments since the beginning of the Iraqi occupation, suggesting each time that the situation in Iraq was about to improve.
On Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, host Sean Hannity and Swift Boat Veterans for Truth co-founder John E. O'Neill attacked Rep. Jack Murtha (D-PA) for saying that a pending military report will show that U.S. Marines deliberately killed innocent Iraqi citizens during a November 2005 raid in Haditha. Murtha served in the Marines for 37 years prior to joining the United States Congress. Yet, while condemning Murtha for discussing the Haditha incident, Hannity did not similarly fault Fox chief White House correspondent Brett Baier, who earlier that day also noted the pending report.
Bill O'Reilly used his interview with Donald Rumsfeld to attack David Letterman, asking Rumsfeld, "Why does a guy like David Letterman think this whole Iraq thing is some kind of corrupt, ridiculous adventure?" and "[H]ave you ever analyzed why he thinks that way?" O'Reilly appeared on CBS' Late Show in January to discuss the so-called "war on Christmas," among other topics, and was told by Letterman: "I have the feeling about 60 percent of what you say is crap."
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In reporting on the formation of the Iraqi cabinet, ABC's Good Morning America, CBS's The Early Show, and NBC's Today each failed to note that three of most critical positions in the new government -- the heads of the defense, national security, and interior ministries -- remain vacant.
On ABC's Nightline, co-anchor Terry Moran characterized "the U.S. claim that Saddam Hussein's regime had weapons of mass destruction" as "a total intelligence failure at the CIA." In fact, while much of the intelligence produced by the CIA before the Iraq war was indeed faulty, many of the Bush administration's most dramatic prewar claims had been called into question by the CIA or other intelligence agencies.
Reports by both ABC's World News Tonight and NBC's Nightly News on the Senate hearing for Gen. Michael Hayden's nomination to be CIA director aired Sen. Ron Wyden's (D-OR) comment that he had "a difficult time with [Hayden's] credibility." But neither network mentioned the reasons cited by Wyden to explain his concern, including Hayden's misleading statement to Congress in 2002 that the National Security Agency did not have the authority to electronically eavesdrop on residents without a warrant -- even as the NSA was reportedly conducting such surveillance.