Over the objections of their own legal experts, right-wing media continue to argue the alleged Boston bomber should be denied constitutional rights unlike the hundreds of terrorists before him who have been successfully tried and convicted.
Prominent right-wing media figures have advocated a wide range of unconstitutional treatment for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old U.S. citizen accused of complicity in the Boston marathon bombing and subsequent murder of a police officer. Echoing GOP politicians from Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) to Rep. Michelle Bachman (R-MN), right-wing media have called for Tsarnaev to be denied the constitutional protections regularly given to domestic or foreign terrorists in this country, both before and after the September 11, 2001, attacks.
Fox News hosts have suggested using torture on Tsarnaev because not all American citizens are "worthy of the constitutional rights that we have." The Wall Street Journal joined the dangerous clamor (fueled by Graham and Bachman) to indefinitely detain Tsarnaev in military custody as an "enemy combatant." Conservative pundit Ann Coulter told Fox's Sean Hannity she wanted authorities to "shoot up the boat" when they found Tsarnaev unarmed and "get him an automatic death penalty there."
When the Department of Justice initiated criminal proceedings against Tsarnaev, right-wing media turned their ire upon Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama for not preventing the federal judge from following the law. National Review Online's John Yoo accused the president of the "elevation of ideology over national security." Fox host Megyn Kelly continues to pretend "the public safety exception to Miranda lasts only 48 hours." A Washington Times columnist called for President Obama's impeachment because he is "unwilling" to protect America.
Washington Times columnist Jeffrey Kuhner called for President Obama's impeachment over the Boston Marathon bombings, accusing the president of being "unwilling" to keep Americans safe.
In his April 26 Washington Times column, Kuhner wrote that Obama "has been unable -- even unwilling -- to keep us safe" from terror attacks, including the bombings in Boston, because "[h]e refuses to acknowledge that we are in a war with radical Islam." Kuhner added: "It's time he is held responsible for his gross negligence. It's time that he be impeached. Justice demands no less."
Kuhner's call to impeach the president comes a week after Fox News host Brian Kilmeade blamed Obama's Middle East policy for the bombings.
From Kuhner's column:
Under Mr. Obama's watch, Islamic terrorists have targeted the United States repeatedly -- the underwear bomber, the Fort Hood shooting, the killing of an Army recruiter in Arkansas, the consulate in Benghazi and now Boston. The president has been unable -- even unwilling -- to keep us safe. The reason is simple: He refuses to acknowledge that we are in a war with radical Islam. The Boston bombings were not the acts of criminals. They were an act of war against Americans. The commander in chief has the duty to not only defend America, but to identity and denounce the enemy. In short, he must fight back.
The Boston massacre was a defining moment. It exposed Mr. Obama's narcissistic and reckless approach to combating terror. There can be no illusions any longer -- we are in a clash of civilizations between radical Islam and the West. Mr. Obama has denied this painful reality long enough. By burying his head in the ideological sands, he has made Americans pay a terrible price. It's time he is held responsible for his gross negligence. It's time that he be impeached. Justice demands no less.
Kuhner has repeatedly pushed for Obama's impeachment. In March 2011, Kuhner argued that Obama should be impeached over his handling of the military intervention in Libya, and in March 2010, Kuhner called for Obama to be impeached if he signed a health care reform bill passed via a legislative procedure known as a "self-executing rule."
Fox News accused MA Gov. Deval Patrick of "playing politics" by refusing to release details of welfare benefits reportedly used by the Boston Marathon bombing suspects. But as Patrick has noted, state and federal law prevents the release of this information.
On April 24, an article in the right-leaning Boston Herald reported that the Boston Marathon bombing suspects had received some government assistance as children and that deceased suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev's family received some welfare benefits until 2012. The paper later reported that Massachusetts state officials had "clamped down the lid" on the Herald's requests for more details on Tamerlan Tsarnaev's government benefits.
Fox hosts seized on this to criticize Gov. Patrick on the April 26 edition of Fox & Friends. Co-host Steve Doocy said that "the governor told all the state agencies to clam up" and on-air text asked if Patrick is "playing politics."
Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson said:
CARLSON: Well, apparently Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts won't exactly explain what taxpayer assistance the bombers actually received because he says it's a matter of protecting their personal privacy. Well, that's interesting because one of those suspects is dead, and so what kind of personal privacy would be at hand to not be able to at least release what should be public knowledge if the taxpayers actually were financing these two people and their families for the last 10 years.
Fox failed to note that state and federal laws prohibit the government officials from releasing such information, a fact that Patrick had pointed out after facing questions about why the government had not released more details. On April 25, the Boston Herald reported:
Gov. Deval Patrick defended his administration's refusal to release financial aid, welfare, unemployment and other information about the suspected Boston Marathon bombers today.
"It's not about a right to privacy, it's about abiding by the law," said Patrick in Jamaica Plain today. "We'll do what we can do within the law. I'm curious, too. I understand people's curiosity."
Patrick added that he would be "happy" to release whatever information the law allows.
The Associated Press reported that the Massachusetts welfare agency later acknowledged that it had been a "mistake" to release the information to the media, saying it "inappropriately confirmed" media inquiries on the issue. The agency further stated: "Disclosing such information is not allowed by law. Regardless of the circumstances, we are obligated to follow state and federal law."
Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post's Fact Checker blog further discredited "absurd" claims by congressional Republicans, pushed by Fox News, that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally approved a reduction in security at a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, that was attacked on September 11, 2012.
Fox News has spent days promoting a GOP attack on Clinton based on a partisan House report released April 23 that claims Secretary Clinton had seen and denied requests for more security at the Benghazi facility. Special Report host Bret Baier hyped it as a "scathing indictment" the night the report was released and national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin quoted the report's attacks on Clinton. On April 24, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade interviewed GOP House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrel Issa about the report, claiming that it "sharply contradicts [Clinton's] sworn testimony" that she had not seen any cables about security concerns regarding the Benghazi facility. Fox News also conducted a poll that coincided with the release of the GOP report, which asked voters how they felt about Clinton saying she had not seen the Benghazi security cables.
Kessler examined Kilmeade's interview of Issa over the issue, and explained that the State Department's Foreign Affairs Manual stipulates that the department's communications centers add the secretary's names to all messages that go out to overseas posts. Former senior State Department officials who worked under Republican secretaries also confirmed this procedure:
"A very small fraction would be seen by the Secretary of State," said R. Nicholas Burns, a career diplomat who was undersecretary of state for political affairs under Rice.
Burns said he would only show a cable to Rice if it had very sensitive instructions for an ambassador and he wanted to be sure she agreed with his draft language. But generally he said the secretary is much too busy and would never see the cables. He added that sometimes even assistant secretaries would not view cables that are sent out under the secretary's "signature."
Burns noted that the confusion over "signature" is a common misunderstanding about State Department cables. He frequently has to correct historians from overseas who mistakenly believe the secretary's name at the bottom of the cable has much meaning.
"I can say that from being there with one secretary and reviewing the work of many other secretaries in my academic research, there are many, many cables the secretary never sees," said Larry Wilkerson, who was chief of staff to Colin L. Powell. "From time to time, the deputy may 'chop' [approve], the undersecretary may 'chop', or the assistant secretary or office director may 'chop' -- and the cable goes."
Kessler concluded: "At this point, Issa has no basis or evidence to show that Clinton had anything to do with this cable," and awarded the claim Four Pinnochios, the highest rating for a false claim.
Other news reports had already undermined this Fox-based smear against Clinton, with The Washington Post, the Associated Press, and a Foreign Policy national security reporter explaining that official cables are routinely sent out bearing the secretary's name. A member of the independent State Department Accountability Review Board that examined the Benghazi attack said that it's "total bullshit" to claim that Clinton saw or sent a specific cable because it bore her signature, as "[m]illions of cable come into" the State Department every year, all addressed to the secretary, and it's "the normal procedure" that "[e]very single cable going out is signed 'Clinton.' "
Fox News contributor Judith Miller wrote a highly speculative Wall Street Journal op-ed that claimed New York City police surveillance practices "may well have... prevented" the Boston bombing, ignoring that the constitutionality of these programs is currently being challenged in court and their efficacy is questioned.
In the April 24 op-ed, Miller lauded the New York Police Department (NYPD) for its blanket surveillance of American Muslim communities, which has extended beyond the jurisdiction of New York City. According to Miller, this extensive spying program "is a model of how to identify and stop killers like the Tsarnaev brothers before they strike" and should be emulated by other cities. From the WSJ:
[T]he city has developed a counterterror program that is a model of how to identify and stop killers like the Tsarnaev brothers before they strike. The 1,000 cops and analysts who work in the NYPD's intelligence and counterterrorism divisions, for instance, would likely have flagged Tamerlan Tsarnaev for surveillance, given Police Commissioner Ray Kelly's insistence on aggressively monitoring groups and individuals suspected of radicalization.
The NYPD maintains close ties to Muslim preachers and community leaders, as well as a network of tipsters and undercover operatives.
Once the department had Tamerlan under surveillance, the NYPD's cyberunit might have detected his suspicious online viewing choices and social-media postings. Other detectives might have picked up his purchase of a weapon, gunpowder and even a pressure cooker--an item featured in an article, "How to Build a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom," in the online al Qaeda magazine Inspire.
Even if the NYPD hadn't been watching Tamerlan, it might have been tipped off to such suspicious purchases thanks to its Nexus program. Since the program's launch in 2002, the department has visited more than 40,000 businesses in the metropolitan area, encouraging business owners and managers to report suspicious purchases or other activities potentially related to terrorism.
From the April 24 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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From the April 24 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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Rush Limbaugh is criticizing Vice President Joe Biden for praising Americans for their resilience in the face of terrorism after the tragic Boston marathon bombings.
Speaking at Time magazine's 100 gala, Biden stated:
If the purpose of terror is to instill fear, you saw none of that in Boston ... [T]he only way terrorism wins is if we change our way of life, if we yield ... Our message to terrorists is you cannot break us, you can't change us. We will never yield. We will not be intimidated.
During his April 24 radio broadcast, Limbaugh attacked Biden for these comments, calling them "typical Biden" and wondering if the vice president was drunk. Limbaugh suggested that Biden's praise was misplaced because police put Boston and surrounding communities on lockdown during the manhunt for suspected bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev:
LIMBAUGH: Was the vice president a little overindulgent in adult beverages or was he joking? ... We watched a major American metropolitan area of more than one million people on lockdown. A million people were told to stay home from work, stay home from school. To shelter in place. Do not go outside. Boston's subways, buses, cabs, even Amtrak service was halted. They cancelled a Bruins game. They cancelled a Red Sox game. I saw a lot of lives change. What was Biden watching? They shut down an entire city! They had the - these two terrorists had the city fathers telling everybody, 'Don't go outside. Stay in there - Don't you dare go outside. Don't answer the door. Stay right -' They had people cowering in fear in the corners of their own homes. And the vice president says, 'The only way terrorism wins is if we change our way of life, if we yield. And we didn't yield. And we didn't change our way of life. And they didn't break us. And they didn't change us. And they can't, and we will never yield.' What was he watching? I saw a lot of lives being changed.
Fox News' latest attempt to use the September attack on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya to blame Hillary Clinton for the deaths of U.S. personnel has been undermined by several news outlets.
Fox has claimed that a new Republican report on the Benghazi attack proves that Clinton falsely claimed she was unaware of requests for additional security at the Benghazi compound because she personally read and signed off on a cable responding to one such missive. Reporting from The Washington Post, the Associated Press, and Foreign Policy, however, demonstrates that all such messages from the State Department to diplomatic facilities abroad are sent out over the secretary's signature.
On April 23, Republican congressional committee chairmen released a report on the September 11, 2012, attacks on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi that resulted in the deaths of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three others. The report claimed that an "April 2012 cable from Secretary Clinton" was a "critical cable" that responded to the U.S. ambassador's request for additional security resources by calling for reductions in security. The GOP's evidence that this cable came personally from Clinton is that it bore her signature [emphasis in original]:
State Department officials in Washington acknowledged that the Benghazi Mission lacked sufficient resources to protect its personnel in a deteriorating security environment. However, in a cable signed by Secretary Clinton in April 2012, the State Department settled on a plan to scale back security assets for the U.S. Mission in Libya, including Benghazi. Specifically, despite acknowledging Ambassador Cretz's March 2012 cable requesting additional security assets, the April plan called for the removal of the two remaining MSD teams, the third initially deployed MSD team having been previously removed.
Fox News, which has spent months pushing falsehoods and conspiracies in an attempt to politically damage the Obama administration, subsequently seized on the report to claim that it undermines then-Secretary Clinton's January 23 testimony that the cables requesting additional security did not reach her desk and were handled by subordinates.
But several news outlets have reported that it is routine for outgoing messages from the State Department to be sent under the secretary's name without the secretary's direct involvement. An Associated Press article on the House Republican report stated that "every cable from Washington to the department's field offices is sent over the secretary of state's name." Foreign Policy concurred, reporting:
It's not clear who in the State Department sent the April 19 response. But as a general rule, "every single cable sent from Washington to the field is sent over the secretary of state's name," a former State Department official noted, adding, "Though they are trying to make this new, it's not. After 30+ hearings and briefings, thousands of pages, this has all been addressed."
And The Washington Post similarly reported: "Many State Department cables routinely go out with the secretary of state's name, and it was not immediately clear whether this one was personally written by Clinton."
But Fox News has repeatedly treated the House report's claims credulously. In an April 23 segment on Fox News' Special Report, national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin quoted the section of the report that claims then-Secretary Clinton personally approved of security reductions, and that the action contradicts her prior testimony. On April 24, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed during an interview of Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) that the GOP report "sharply contradicts [Clinton's] sworn testimony."
Fox News' campaign to use the September terrorist attack on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, to damage President Obama may not have succeeded in defeating his bid for re-election, but it has resulted in Congressional Republicans issuing a politicized report that echoes longstanding conspiracy theories in an obvious attempt to damage Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The report, compiled by House Republicans on five committees for the House Republican Conference, has already come under fire from the Democratic leaders of those committees, who have reportedly sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner accusing him of politicizing the inquiry by shutting out Democratic views. Fox News, however, is already promoting its conclusions, with a segment on the "scathing report" leading Fox's Special Report:
This is no surprise. The right-wing media -- led by Fox News -- has spent more than half a year blaming the Obama administration for the tragic deaths of U.S. personnel in Benghazi and wielding that attack as a cudgel in an attempt to cause political damage. They have politicized the attack since day 1, claiming that the Obama administration's actions are directly responsible for the deaths and pushing conspiracies about administration officials deliberately misleading the public.
Several Fox talking points on the attack were later used by Republican senators seeking to criticize the administration during that hearing. So it's no surprise that similar talking points have found their way into the report itself.
Notably, the document accuses the Obama administration of "deliberately misleading" by asserting that an anti-Islam YouTube video had triggered the attack, echoing claims by Fox News. But The New York Times has reported that the attackers themselves said they were motivated by the video.
Likewise, the report pins the blame for the Benghazi facility's level of security directly on Clinton. A nonpartisan review conducted by a State Department Accountability Review Board, led by Ambassador Tom Pickering and Admiral Mike Mullen, made no such finding with regard to Clinton, attributing the security conditions to lower level bureaucrats.
Expect Fox to continue to push the report in the days and weeks to come. They've been pushing these partisan attacks for months, and apparently have no intention of backing off now.
From the April 23 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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Fox News is leading the right-wing media chorus baselessly claiming Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the apparent bomber in the Boston Marathon attacks, should be indefinitely detained as an "enemy combatant," even though legal experts maintain it is unlikely he qualifies for this designation.
Militarily detaining U.S. citizens apprehended in this country as "enemy combatants" for acts of terror is extremely rare and constitutionally questionable. Former President George W. Bush transferred the last U.S. citizen held in such a fashion to federal criminal court rather than have the Supreme Court rule on the matter. President Barack Obama, while not explicitly disavowing his authority to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens as "enemy combatants," has publicly determined the practice to be unwise and contrary to American tradition and law.
Despite the legal uncertainty of the practice, Fox News host Sean Hannity declared that Tsarnaev should be held as an "enemy combatant" because "the evidence is obviously out there." From an interview with right-wing commentator Ann Coulter on the April 22 edition of Hannity:
Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin is seizing on a recent poll showing that George W. Bush's approval numbers are up to declare "Bush is back," arguing that America is starting to appreciate Bush's policies in the light of what she calls the "rotten" Obama presidency. To make her case, Rubin neatly excises from Bush's record every single massive failure and disaster that resulted in Bush leaving office as one of the least popular presidents in history.
Rubin managed to cram so much misinformation and nonsense into seven short paragraphs that it's tough to pick a place to start, but this one is worthy of special attention:
Why the shift? Aside from the "memories fade" point, many of his supposed failures are mild compared to the current president (e.g. spending, debt). Unlike Obama's tenure, there was no successful attack on the homeland after 9/11. People do remember the big stuff -- rallying the country after the Twin Towers attack, 7 1/2 years of job growth and prosperity, millions of people saved from AIDS in Africa, a good faith try for immigration reform, education reform and a clear moral compass.
"Aside from the 'memories fade' point, many of his supposed failures are mild compared to the current president (e.g. spending, debt)." Funny thing about those "spending" and "debt" failures of Obama's that make Bush's supposedly seem so mild: Bush-era policies are responsible for the lion's share of the current public debt and will continue exacerbating the debt situation long after President Obama has left office.
"Unlike Obama's tenure, there was no successful attack on the homeland after 9/11." This is false. There were a number of successful terrorist attacks between 9-11 and the end of the Bush presidency, most prominently the DC-area sniper attacks of 2002. But I'm dodging the real problem, which is the phrase "after 9/11." Her argument -- an argument she's made before -- is that the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history, despite happening on Bush's watch, doesn't count against Bush. Why? She doesn't say. Rubin doesn't allow Obama any terrorism Mulligans, calling his record "spotty at best with Benghazi, Libya, Boston and Fort Hood."
From the April 23 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Fox News hosted a series of discredited anti-Islam activists to smear Muslims during Fox's coverage of the April 15 bombings at the Boston Marathon.