As numerous Bush administration officials, congressional Republicans, and conservative media figures continue to attack The New York Times and other newspapers for their decision to publicly disclose the Treasury Department bank-tracking program, major U.S. newspapers' editorial boards have largely remained silent on the issue. According to a Media Matters for America review, 15 newspapers -- not including The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, which also initially reported the program -- have so far editorialized either in support of the papers' decision to run the story or against the criticism they received for doing so.
A Wall Street Journal editorial twisted logic by attacking The New York Times for publishing a June 23 article on a Treasury Department program designed to monitor terrorists' international financial transactions while simultaneously defending the Journal's own contemporaneous article on the Treasury Department program. In fact, there appears to be no relevant basis for differentiating between the two reports.
On Countdown, Keith Olbermann honored Brent Bozell and Glenn Beck with first and third-place honors, respectively, in his nightly "Worst Person" award segment: Bozell for repeating the Republican assertion that a recently declassified report found there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq prior to the U.S.-led invasion, and Beck for comparing The New York Times' report on a Treasury Department program designed to track terrorists' international financial transactions to condoning the genocide committed by the Nazis during the Holocaust.
An article in The Washington Post reported the claim that the June 23 report by The New York Times on a Treasury Department program designed to monitor terrorists' international financial transactions "undermined a highly successful counter-terrorism program and alerted terrorists to the methods and sources used to track their money trails." But the article at no point mentioned the numerous instances in which administration officials have publicly touted their efforts to track terrorist finances. Nor did it note reports that terrorists were increasingly using alternate means of transferring money to elude detection.
Numerous conservative commentators joined the Bush administration in arguing that, in detailing a secret Treasury Department program designed to monitor terrorists' international financial transactions, a June 23 New York Times article tipped off terrorists to the U.S. government's ability to track their financial activities -- some going so far as to accuse the newspaper of treason. But the Times report was hardly the first indication of U.S. efforts to monitor terrorists' financial transactions: President Bush himself repeatedly touted the government's capability to track and shut down terrorists' international financial networks.
Commenting on Fox News' Your World, private investigator Bo Dietl argued that the recent arrest in Miami of seven men on charges of conspiracy, which allegedly included plans to bomb the Sears Tower in Chicago, illustrates that "we can't go off ... where we are going with [racial] profiling." Dietl referred to the men as a "crew of mutts" and stated that law enforcement officials should "[g]o into your 7-Elevens or go into one of these stores that keep rotating young men who are Muslims," and say "identify yourself."
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On his radio show, Bill O'Reilly downplayed a recent report of an aborted Al Qaeda attack on the New York City subway system, which was to involve the use of deadly hydrogen-cyanide gas, joking, "[I]f you've been to the subways in New York City in the summer, I don't know how you would tell there was a gas attack, based upon the smell that's down there every day."
After a visit to the U.S. detention facility in Guantánamo Bay, Bill O'Reilly minimized the seriousness and credibility of allegations that abuses have taken place at the facility.
During his interview with Bill O'Reilly, NBC Today host Matt Lauer joined O'Reilly in serving up conservative misinformation to Today viewers. In questions he posed to O'Reilly, Lauer suggested that Democrats would play a "dangerous" "troop withdrawal game" in Iraq, and that if detainees were released from the U.S. prison facility at GuantÃ¡namo Bay and went on to commit terrorist acts, "we've got an international Willie Horton on our hands."
On The Chris Matthews Show, Newsweek chief political correspondent Howard Fineman said he doesn't see "a serious answer from the Democrats of how to better make us safe in the world from terrorism," while Bloomberg reporter Janine Zacharia added that "[t]he Democrats have no alternative." In fact, the Democrats have released a comprehensive security plan.
On Fox News' The Big Story, John Gibson falsely claimed that former Al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was recently killed in Iraq by American forces, "attacked" and "blew up" the USS Cole in October 2000. In fact, according to the 9-11 Commission report, the attack on the Cole was an Al Qaeda operation that was "supervised and directed" by Osama bin Laden.
On Fox News' The Big Story, host John Gibson and Republican strategist Ed Rollins suggested that attendees at the "big convention" for the "far-left-wing Daily Kos" weblog were "demoralized" by the death of Al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Rollins said: "Well, they'll claim it's a conspiracy theory. That we knew their meeting was going on and that's why we did it [killed Zarqawi now]."
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.
On Fox News' Special Report, Roll Call executive editor Morton Kondracke said the telecommunications company Qwest was "basically helping terrorists" because "to its discredit, [it] said it was not cooperating with the NSA [National Security Agency] and specifically decided not to cooperate" by providing the NSA with the phone call records of its customers. According to The New York Times, a lawyer representing Qwest's former CEO has said that the company "[[Qwest]] turned down requests by the National Security Agency for private telephone records because it concluded that doing so would violate federal privacy laws."
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