Fox & Friends funnels Exxon-funded NCPPR press release claiming CIA is “spying on icebergs instead of terrorists”

Attacking a CIA program providing climate data to scientists, Fox & Friends accused the Obama administration of "[s]pying on icebergs instead of terrorists" and "[t]racking climate change instead of Al-Qaeda," which echoes a press release from the conservative and ExxonMobil-funded National Center for Public Policy Research that claimed the program “diverts intelligence assets to climate research.” In fact, federal officials have reportedly said that the program, which allows the scientific community to gather data from CIA equipment, “has little or no impact on regular intelligence gathering.”

Industry-funded NCPPR pushes press release: “Spying on Icebergs instead of Terrorists?”

A January 5 press release from the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) asserted that the CIA program designed to provide climate data from CIA equipment to scientists is “divert[ing] intelligence assets” from counterterrorism:


NCPPR funded annually by ExxonMobil. The National Center for Public Policy Research, which "advocates private, free market solutions to today's environmental challenges," has received significant contributions from ExxonMobil Corp., including $55,000 per year in 2008, 2007, and 2006, as well as $30,000 in 2002. NCPPR also received $55,000 per year from the ExxonMobil Foundation in 2005 and 2004, $23,000 in 2003, $15,000 in 2002, and $30,000 in 2001.

NCPPR funneled money for convicted felon Jack Abramoff. The Washington Post reported on June 25, 2006, that documents released in the investigation of former Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff revealed that "[a]s far back as 1996, Abramoff was using [Amy Moritz] Ridenour's National Center for Public Policy Research to hide the source of funding for trips and other ventures intended to boost the interests of his lobbying clients, e-mails show." The article further stated that Ridenour “acknowledged that her organization had accepted grants lined up by Abramoff and disbursed funds at his suggestion” and that "[e]-mails suggest Ridenour was well aware that Abramoff viewed her organization as a convenient pass-through." On October 13, 2006, the Post noted that a Senate report stated that five nonprofit groups including NCPPR “probably violated their tax-exempt status 'by laundering payments and then disbursing funds at Mr. Abramoff's direction; taking payments in exchange for writing newspaper columns or press releases that put Mr. Abramoff's clients in a favorable light; introducing Mr. Abramoff's clients to government officials in exchange for payment; and agreeing to act as a front organization for congressional trips paid for by Mr. Abramoff's clients.' ”

Fox & Friends reproduces NCPPR press release

Doocy: “Tracking climate change instead of Al Qaeda? ... Not making it up.” Teasing a segment on the CIA climate program, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy stated, “Tracking climate change instead of Al Qaeda? Why the government thinks it's a good idea to divert our intel resources from terror to looking at clouds and global warming. Not making it up. We'll be right back.”

Carlson: “Spying on icebergs instead of terrorists?” Teasing the segment, co-host Gretchen Carlson evidently read from the NCPPR press release, which was titled, “Spying on Icebergs Instead of Terrorists?” Carlson stated, “Spying on icebergs instead of terrorists? You won't believe what the Obama administration has the CIA using its resources for. That's next.”

Kilmeade: Climate monitoring program “would task valuable intel resources to study climate change.” During the segment on the CIA program, co-host Brian Kilmeade stated that it “would task valuable intel resources to study climate change.” He later added, “Here the CIA with it's hands full, from the border of Pakistan, Afghanistan, ears and eyes everywhere, especially throughout the Middle East and Africa. Now they're forced to study glaciers and global warming?” Kilmeade suggested the CIA is assessing the impacts of global warming “as opposed to what terrorists can do to the country.”

Fox & Friends interviewed NCPPR representative. The segment on the CIA program consisted of an interview with Deneen Borelli, who asserted that the CIA program is “ridiculous” and “outrageous” and claimed that the Obama administration doesn't think terrorism “is a priority.” Borelli also stated that “our enemies have got to be laughing at us.” In the NCPPR press release, Borelli, a fellow with NCPPR's “Project 21 black leadership network,” is quoted as stating of the climate monitoring program, “This is another example of President Obama not taking terrorism seriously. Our enemies must be laughing at the Obama administration's incompetence.” Fox & Friends stated that Borelli “is with the national black leadership network” and did not mention NCPPR or its ties to the oil industry.

Fox & Friends on-screen text: “Spying on Icebergs,” “Icebergs, not terrorists?” During the interview with Borelli, Fox & Friends aired the following on-screen text:



In fact, federal officials said climate program “has little or no impact on regular intelligence gathering”

NY Times: Officials said climate program has “little or no impact” on intelligence gathering. The NCPPR press release cited a January 5 New York Times report stating that "[t]he nation's top scientists and spies are collaborating on an effort to use the federal government's intelligence assets -- including spy satellites and other classified sensors -- to assess the hidden complexities of environmental change." The Times further reported that federal officials said the program “has little or no impact on regular intelligence gathering”:

The monitoring program has little or no impact on regular intelligence gathering, federal officials said, but instead releases secret information already collected or takes advantage of opportunities to record environmental data when classified sensors are otherwise idle or passing over wilderness.

CIA: Climate efforts assist scientists “without a large commitment of resources.” In a September 25 press release announcing the establishment of the Center on Climate Change and National Security, the CIA stated, “The Center will assume responsibility for coordinating with Intelligence Community partners on the review and declassification of imagery and other data that could be of use to scientists in their own climate-related research. This effort draws on imagery and other information that is collected in any event, assisting the US scientific community without a large commitment of resources.”

Climate change seen by defense, intelligence experts as relevant to national security

Bush NIC chair testified on “wide ranging implications for US national security.” In June 25, 2008, testimony, Dr. Thomas Fingar, then-chairman of the National Intelligence Council, stated that “global climate change will have wide ranging implications for US national security interests over the next 20 years,” citing the possible worsening of “existing problems -- such as poverty, social tensions, environment degradation, ineffectual leadership, and weak political institutions” abroad, as well as the likelihood that “economic migrants will perceive additional reasons to migrate.” The NIC's 2025 Global Trends Report, published in November 2008, further stated that "[c]limate change is likely to exacerbate resource scarcities, particularly water scarcities."

NY Times: Military, intelligence experts considering security impacts of climate change. An August 8, 2009, New York Times report stated that “military and intelligence analysts” have said that climate change “will pose profound strategic challenges to the United States in coming decades”:

The changing global climate will pose profound strategic challenges to the United States in coming decades, raising the prospect of military intervention to deal with the effects of violent storms, drought, mass migration and pandemics, military and intelligence analysts say.

Such climate-induced crises could topple governments, feed terrorist movements or destabilize entire regions, say the analysts, experts at the Pentagon and intelligence agencies who for the first time are taking a serious look at the national security implications of climate change.

Recent war games and intelligence studies conclude that over the next 20 to 30 years, vulnerable regions, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and South and Southeast Asia, will face the prospect of food shortages, water crises and catastrophic flooding driven by climate change that could demand an American humanitarian relief or military response.

Bipartisan report identified global warming as potential “threat to our security.” On October 28, 2009, the Associated Press reported that the American Security Project, “an advisory group of high-powered Republicans and Democrats,” affirmed that global warming is relevant to national security:

A recent report by the American Security Project, an advisory group of high-powered Republicans and Democrats, called global warming “not simply about saving polar bears or preserving beautiful mountain glaciers ... (but) a threat to our security.” The group has on its board Republicans such as former Sen. Warren Rudman as well as Democrats including Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the chief author of the Senate climate bill.

Across the globe there exist conflicts and security challenges including ethnic conflicts and emerging radicalism and often “these are also the parts of the world where we will see the most severe consequences from climate change,” Bernard Finel, a co-author of the American Security Project report, said in an interview. “The intelligence community, CIA, (military) commanders, they're all looking at these issues.”

Former Republican Sen. John Warner, a longtime chairman of the Armed Services Committee and a close ally of the military, has been touring the country to talk about climate change and national security.

“We are talking about energy insecurity, water and food shortages, and climate-driven social instability,” says Warner. “We ignore these threats at the peril of our national security and at great risk to those in uniform.”

Fox News, bloggers previously claimed CIA resources have been “diverted to climate change”

Hannity: “CIA director redirects manpower ... at the cost of our security, your security, your family's security?” Sean Hannity stated on his Fox News program that “the CIA director redirects manpower to monitor climate change, but is it all the cost -- at the cost of our security, your security, your family's security?” Hannity later added: "[I]n the wake of the attempted Christmas Day terror attack, you would think the spies at the CIA, that they would have their hands full securing America. But, believe it or not, assets at Langley are being used for other projects." Citing the NCPPR press release, Fox Nation, Gateway Pundit, and SayAnythingBlog also falsely claimed the CIA program sacrifices resources needed for national security, with Fox Nation including a photo of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man who attempted to bomb Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day.