Media outlets have uncritically reported the comments of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, who, during interviews, have asserted that U.S. laws on detaining suspected terrorists should be modeled after British laws that allow the United Kingdom to detain a suspected terrorist for up to 28 days without charges. However, none of the media outlets noted the administration's expanded use of material witness warrants to detain people for indefinite periods.
In response to the reports describing a Treasury Department program designed to monitor international financial transactions for terrorist activity, President Bush and other White House officials lashed out at the media -- and The New York Times in particular -- for purportedly undermining the government's antiterrorism efforts. But as with the disclosure of the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance and domestic call-tracking programs, the administration and its supporters in the media have relied on numerous false and misleading claims to support their arguments.
February 28 articles in The New York Times and The Boston Globe falsely reported that a bill introduced by Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Robert Menendez, and other Democratic senators would bar "foreign-owned companies" from controlling operations at U.S. ports. In fact, the bill would prohibit companies owned by foreign governments -- not all foreign-owned companies -- from controlling U.S. port operations.