Fox misused a report by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office finding that the federal government may be able to safely transfer all the prisoners currently detained at Guantanamo Bay to prisons on U.S. soil to manufacture a conspiracy theory that the Obama administration wants to release terrorists onto American streets.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) -- a non-partisan independent agency that works for Congress -- issued a report finding that six Department of Defense detention facilities and 98 Department of Justice prisons may, with modifications, be able to hold the detainees the Department of Defense is currently holding at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
During the December 1 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-hosts Dave Briggs and Juliet Huddy interviewed Republican Party activist and former Justice Department attorney J. Christian Adams to react to the report. Fox has repeatedly given Adams a platform to push his vendetta against the Obama administration's Department of Justice, including the utterly discredited claim that the Justice Department has a policy of not pursuing certain cases against African Americans.
Adams wasted little of Fox's airtime before pushing an anti-Department of Justice conspiracy theory. After discussing how dangerous some of the detainees in Guantanamo are, Huddy asked what would happen if Guantanamo Bay detainees are brought to the U.S. prison system. Adams responded by falsely claiming that the administration had previously attempted to release terrorists into Northern Virginia and suggested that the administration's long-term goal was to release terrorists into the United States:
ADAMS: Well, look what happened with the Uighurs. The Uighurs were these Chinese terrorists. The administration tried to release them into Northern Virginia before Congressman Frank Wolfe [R-VA] found out about it and said you can't do this. I think the long-term plan here is to integrate them into the regular prison population where they can radicalize the other prisoners. And eventually, these people -- some in the administration -- want to just release them into the United States.
In fact, the Uighurs the administration sought to release were not terrorists seeking to harm the United States. The Uighurs at Guantanamo were Chinese Muslims. According to The Washington Post, the Bush administration determined that a number of them were people who had been wrongfully detained by bounty hunters. The Post reported that the rest “were deemed low-risk detainees whose enemy was China's communist government -- not the United States.”
Indeed, according to the Post, the Bush administration had cleared all of them for release by 2005, but they could not find a country willing to take them and could not send them back to China where they might have faced persecution. In October 2008, a federal judge had ruled that the U.S. government had to release the Uighurs still being held, which led to redoubled efforts to find a place to release them.
But Fox and Adams weren't yet done with the fearmongering and smearing. At the end of the segment, Adams claimed that the Justice Department is “full of people who used to work for Al Qaeda terrorists.” According to Adams, “this administration and this Justice Department in particular is on a crusade to implement this radical normalization of terror behavior by putting them into the civil justice system. It's because we have a Justice Department full of people who used to work for Al Qaeda terrorists. And they're lawyers now at Eric Holder's Justice Department.”
Adams appeared to be referring to the fact that some Justice Department attorneys represented detainees at Guantanamo Bay before being hired by the federal government, an argument Adams has pushed before.
This attack has been described by former Bush and Clinton-era government attorneys as “shameful,” “wrong,” a “cheap shot,” and “outrageous.” That is because, far from acting inappropriately, the Justice Department attorneys were working in the finest traditions of American law by agreeing to represent Al Qaeda detainees. A statement signed by a number of Bush administration lawyers pointed out that the attorneys who represented Guantanamo detainees were actually following in the tradition of John Adams who represented the British soldiers charged in the Boston massacre.
Only on Fox can a report by a non-partisan agency finding that it may be possible to transfer the Guantanamo Bay detainees to prisons on U.S. soil be twisted into a conspiracy theory that the Obama administration is going to release dangerous terrorists onto American streets.