Fox Nation advances dubious report that "Obama actually delayed pirate rescue"

››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

Following the rescue of Capt. Richard Phillips from Somali pirates, The Fox Nation touted a dubious WorldNetDaily report -- nearly all of which echoes an anti-Obama chain email -- claiming that Obama "actually delayed [the] pirate rescue."

Following the U.S. Navy's successful rescue of Capt. Richard Phillips from Somali pirates, The Fox Nation -- Fox News' purportedly bias-free website -- advanced the dubious claim by the right-wing website WorldNetDaily that President Obama "actually delayed [the] pirate rescue." Nearly all of WND's article echoes elements of an anti-Obama chain email posted on blogs and online bulletin boards, and the article was, according to WorldNetDaily, "adapted from an exclusive report in [WND founder and editor] Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin." Both WND and Farah have a history of advancing baseless smears and conspiracy theories about Obama, such as the debunked theory that Obama does not have a valid birth certificate and the discredited account of a man who claimed he "took drugs [and] had homo sex with Obama."

In an April 21 headline, The Fox Nation asked, "Did Obama DELAY Pirate Rescue?" The headline linked to the April 18 WorldNetDaily article, which claimed that "[w]hile Barack Obama is basking in praise for his 'decisive' handling of the Somali pirate attack ... reliable military sources close to the scene are painting a much different picture of the incident -- accusing the president of employing restrictive rules of engagement that actually hampered the rescue of Capt. Richard Phillips and extended the drama at sea for days." The WND article did not cite any of its sources by name, or even provide any basic information about the sources' backgrounds. Echoing The Fox Nation's headline, a promo for the April 21 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor asked: "Hesitation on the high seas: Did Obama fail to take decisive action against the pirates?"

Nearly all of the details of the WND report echo a chain email -- recently received by Media Matters for America -- that had been posted prior to April 18 on numerous websites and forums. The following is the chain email, with similar portions of the WND report appended in brackets:

Interesting ... sent to me by my SEAL friend ...

Having spoken to some SEAL pals here in Virginia Beach yesterday and asking why this thing dragged out for 4 days, I got the following:

1. BHO wouldn't authorize the DEVGRU/NSWC SEAL teams to the scene for 36 hours going against OSC (on scene commander) recommendation. [WND: "They also report the White House refused to authorize deployment of a Navy SEAL team to the location for 36 hours, despite the recommendation of the on-scene commander."]

2. Once they arrived, BHO imposed restrictions on their ROE that they couldn't do anything unless the hostage's life was in "imminent" danger [WND: "The SEAL team operated under rules of engagement that required them to do nothing unless the hostage's life was in 'imminent' danger."]

3. The first time the hostage jumped, the SEALS had the raggies all sighted in, but could not fire due to ROE restriction [WND: "Phillips jumped into the Indian Ocean with the idea of giving the snipers a clear target. However, the SEAL team was still under orders not to shoot."]

4. When the navy RIB came under fire as it approached with supplies, no fire was returned due to ROE restrictions. As the raggies were shooting at the RIB, they were exposed and the SEALS had them all dialed in. [WND: "In fact, when the USS Bainbridge dispatched a rigid-hull inflatable boat to bring supplies to the Maersk Alabama, it came under fire that could not be returned even though the SEAL team had the pirates in their sights."]

5. BHO specifically denied two rescue plans developed by the Bainbridge CPN and SEAL teams [WND: "The White House also turned down two rescue plans offered up by the Seal commander on the scene and the captain of the USS Bainbridge."]

6. Bainbridge CPN and SEAL team CDR finally decide they have the OpArea and OSC authority to solely determine risk to hostage. 4 hours later, 3 dead raggies [WND: "Hours later, frustrated by the missed opportunities to resolve the standoff, the commander of the Bainbridge and the captain of the Navy SEAL team determined they had operational authority to evaluate the risk to the hostage, and took out the pirates at the first opportunity -- finally freeing Phillips."]

7. BHO immediately claims credit for his "daring and decisive" behaviour. As usual with him, it's BS. [WND: "Barack Obama is basking in praise for his 'decisive' handling of the Somali pirate attack on a merchant ship in the India Ocean."]

So per our last email thread, I'm downgrading Oohbaby's performance to D-. Only reason it's not an F is that the hostage survived.

Portions of the chain email are also posted in the comments section of the Fox Nation post about WND's report:

WorldNetDaily has frequently advanced smears against Obama, including the following:

  • As Media Matters Senior Editor Terry Krepel noted on his website, ConWebWatch, Farah, and contributors to WND have frequently advanced the false conspiracy theory that Obama has a fake birth certificate and is thus ineligible to be president. Indeed, Farah himself wrote of his website: "The overwhelming preponderance of reports by WND on this matter raise serious questions about the eligibility of Obama to serve as president." Farah also asked readers: "Where's the proof Barack Obama was born in the U.S. or that he fulfills the 'natural-born American' clause in the Constitution? If you still want to see it, join more than 190,000 others and sign up now!"
  • WND repeatedly advanced charges by Larry Sinclair that he "took drugs [and] had homo sex with Obama." A February 17, 2008, "WorldNetDaily Exclusive" ran the headline, "Sleaze charge: 'I took drugs, had homo sex with Obama.' " WND later noted that Sinclair "reportedly failed two polygraph tests," but WND nonetheless published a column by Vox Day the next day, in which Day criticized the "media silence ... about the specific charges" made by Sinclair and added, "[T]his isn't a rumor; it's an easily verifiable matter of public record, complete with a YouTube video and United States District Court filing."
  • As Salon.com's Alex Koppelman noted, WND columnist Janet Porter advanced the theory that Obama might be a trained spy or mole for the "Soviet Russian Communists."
  • Media Matters has noted that WND columnists have also referred to or characterized Obama as a "closet communist," "pathological liar," "cellblock rapist," spousal abuser, mobster, and Manchurian candidate. Krepel noted that Farah and WND contributors have frequently compared and defended the practice of comparing Obama to Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels. WorldNetDaily has also frequently promoted and defended the falsehood-laden book The Obama Nation, written by WND staff writer Jerome Corsi.

In an April 12 Defense Department briefing about Phillips' rescue, Vice Adm. William Gortney said that "there were standing orders that if he was at risk and we on scene determined that he was under imminent danger, to go ahead and take decisive action," but that there was "a deliberate, slow deliberate process to let the negotiation process work itself out to a nonviolent end. And unfortunately, that did not occur." From the briefing:

Q: Also, if you could help us understand a little better about how this all went down. Were the three pirates in the capsule on the lifeboat or outside? Where was Captain Phillips at the time this was going on? And where were the sharp shooters? In other words, did they make themselves visible and available for the sharp shooters to then take the shot?

ADM GORTNEY: You are correct that -- you are correct that there were standing orders that if he was at risk and we on scene determined that he was under imminent danger, to go ahead and take decisive action.

The intent of the entire time was a deliberate, slow deliberate process to let the negotiation process work itself out to a nonviolent end.

And unfortunately, that did not occur.

The specifics of where everybody was, I do not have at this particular time, but they would not have been able to take the shots if the captain was anywhere at risk from being hit by one of our snipers.

From The Fox Nation:

WND's April 18 report:

While Barack Obama is basking in praise for his "decisive" handling of the Somali pirate attack on a merchant ship in the India Ocean, reliable military sources close to the scene are painting a much different picture of the incident -- accusing the president of employing restrictive rules of engagement that actually hampered the rescue of Capt. Richard Phillips and extended the drama at sea for days.

Multiple opportunities to free the captain of the Maersk Alabama from three young pirates were missed, these sources say -- all because a Navy SEAL team was not immediately ordered to the scene and then forced to operate under strict, non-lethal rules of engagement.

They say the response duty office at the Pentagon was initially unwilling to grant an order to use lethal force to rescue Phillips. They also report the White House refused to authorize deployment of a Navy SEAL team to the location for 36 hours, despite the recommendation of the on-scene commander.

The White House also turned down two rescue plans offered up by the Seal commander on the scene and the captain of the USS Bainbridge.

The SEAL team operated under rules of engagement that required them to do nothing unless the hostage's life was in "imminent' danger.

In fact, when the USS Bainbridge dispatched a rigid-hull inflatable boat to bring supplies to the Maersk Alabama, it came under fire that could not be returned even though the SEAL team had the pirates in their sights.

Many hours before the fatal shots were fired, taking out the three young pirates, Phillips jumped into the Indian Ocean with the idea of giving the snipers a clear target. However, the SEAL team was still under orders not to shoot.

Hours later, frustrated by the missed opportunities to resolve the standoff, the commander of the Bainbridge and the captain of the Navy SEAL team determined they had operational authority to evaluate the risk to the hostage, and took out the pirates at the first opportunity -- finally freeing Phillips.

The G2 Bulletin report was authored by Joseph Farah, founder and editor of WND, and a veteran newsman with extensive military sources developed over the last 30 years.

From Fox News' April 21 O'Reilly Factor promo:

ANNOUNCER: Hesitation on the high seas: Did Obama fail to take decisive action against the pirates? Plus, young boys busted searching online porn at school. Are criminal charges in order? Tonight.

A tip from reader K.D. contributed to this item. Thanks, and keep them coming.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, Terrorism
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