Intelligence

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  • Architect Of CIA's Waterboarding Program And Fox & Friends Host Mislead About Torture

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Fox host Brian Kilmeade praised waterboarding, claiming it “yield[ed] tremendous results,” during an error-filled interview with psychologist James Mitchell, the man who created the CIA’s so-called “enhanced interrogation” program. Mitchell and Kilmeade promoted numerous misleading arguments about the supposed effectiveness of torture as a form of interrogation while promoting Mitchell's upcoming memoir. Fox figures have previously spoken out in support of reinstating waterboarding as an interrogation technique, even though experts have condemned the practice, saying that it constitutes torture, is illegal under American and international law, and “yielded no intelligence.” 

  • Conservatives Run With NY Post Story About Maid Printing Clinton's Emails, Botch Classification History

    ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    The New York Post published a front page report alleging that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton “routinely asked her maid to print out sensitive government e-mails and documents -- including ones containing classified information,” but ignored the fact the emails in question were classified years after the fact. The report cited only two classified emails, both of which were retroactively classified at the lowest level of classification, a practice which is consistent with past State Department actions. Additionally, in both confidential emails Clinton did not request that her maid print the emails. The author of the report has a history of inaccurate reporting when it comes to Clinton’s emails.

  • Stop Calling Bret Baier A “Real Journalist”

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Fox News anchor Bret Baier made a massive face plant on his now-debunked report of a forthcoming indictment as part of supposed FBI investigations related to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Yet fellow journalists are giving Baier a pass because he is a “solid reporter” and a “real journalist.” To the contrary, Baier is part of the cadre of so-called “hard news” Fox reporters who frequently peddle conservative misinformation under the guise of “straight news,” and his latest “indictment” error is not simply a one-time slip up. 

    Baier seemingly stunned the political world on November 2 when he cited anonymous sources to claim that FBI agents investigating the Clinton Foundation and Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state found an “avalanche of new information coming in every day” that would lead to “likely an indictment.” The claim quickly made its way to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who said the FBI investigation “is likely to yield an indictment.”

    Less than 24 hours after the initial claim, however, Baier partially walked back his “inartful” and flawed report, saying it was wrong for him to “phrase it like I did.” Later that day, ABC News and NBC News poured cold water on Baier’s report, and NBC’s Pete Williams reported that “there really isn’t” an investigation into the Clinton Foundation and that “this idea that there are indictments near … is just not true.”

    Yet despite Baier’s botched reporting, some journalists claimed Baier’s inaccurate reporting was a one-off error. CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota held Baier up as “a real journalist,” saying, “He’s not Sean Hannity. … Bret is a real journalist,” suggesting that his latest miscue was out of character for him. Fellow CNN anchor Chris Cuomo also suggested that it was Baier’s sources who were at fault, not he, because Baier is a “solid reporter” who shouldn’t be “assail[ed]” for being misled.

    Baier’s bungled report is indeed an example of terrible journalism, but he hardly has an otherwise-clean slate of “solid” and honest reporting.

    Throughout his tenure at Fox, Baier has pushed false and misleading claims about numerous issues. He has distorted conversations about reproductive rights by pushing an overwhelming amount of abortion-related misinformation on his show, including referring to common abortion procedures as “dismemberment abortion.” He has also used his show as a vehicle for pushing debunked conspiracy theories and flatout falsehoods regarding the September 11, 2012, terror attacks in Benghazi -- in fact, Baier’s Special Report aired the most Benghazi-related segments of all of Fox’s evening programs in the 20 months following the attacks.

    Baier has attacked first lady Michelle Obama’s healthy lunches initiative, pushed falsehoods about Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, and fearmongered over nondiscrimination ordinances. He has falsely suggested that climate change data is “cooked,” peddled false conspiracy theories about Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, and even pushed House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to threaten a government shutdown. Baier also defended his former boss Roger Ailes after sexual harassment allegations surfaced and attempted to downplay Trump’s widely condemned invitation for the Russian government to hack Clinton by claiming Trump was simply “joking.”

    In addition to all of this, Baier has not even fully retracted his false reporting on Clinton and the FBI, doubling down on November 3 despite the debunking from other outlets.

    So no, Bret Baier is not a “real journalist.” He is a right-leaning Fox News reporter who exploits the facade of his “straight news” evening show to peddle conservative misinformation, and his latest “indictment” misfire is part of an ongoing trend.

    UPDATE: On November 4, Baier apologized on-air for his misleading report and effectively walked back all three of his original and now debunked claims. Journalists praised Baier for correcting his false reportingignoring the broader context of flawed body of work. 

  • ABC News And NBC News Dispute Fox Anchor Baier’s “Inaccurate” Clinton Foundation Investigation Reporting

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    ABC News and NBC News are both disputing Fox News’ anonymously sourced report that there is an active, “very high priority” FBI investigation into the Clinton Foundation which has collected “a great deal of evidence,” citing their own anonymous sources. Both ABC and NBC report that the investigation in question produced little evidence of wrongdoing and there have been no recent developments in the case.

    On November 2, days before the presidential election, Fox News’ Bret Baier cited two anonymous sources “with intimate knowledge of the FBI investigations into the Clinton emails and the Clinton Foundation” to claim that the investigation “into possible pay-for-play interaction between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Foundation” is a “‘very high priority'” and that “agents are actively and aggressively pursuing this case.” Baier said FBI agents “had collected a great deal of evidence” to suggest wrongdoing. The story has been trumpeted on Fox and in the conservative media and was highlighted during a November 3 speech by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.  

    MSNBC anchor Kate Snow noted on November 3 that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump “cited a Fox report” to allege that the FBI investigation “is likely to yield an indictment” and the Justice Department “is trying to protect” Clinton. Snow also reported, however, that “law enforcement officials tell NBC News” that “there have been no developments” in the Clinton Foundation case “for several months,” presumably because there is insufficient evidence for an indictment. From the November 3 edition of MSNBC Live:

    KATE SNOW (HOST): Let me ask you about something Donald Trump said just a couple of hours ago in Jacksonville, Florida. He went on kind of went on a rant against Hillary Clinton and the about the FBI. He cited a Fox report that said that Clinton might face indictment related to the Clinton Foundation; I just want to note that law enforcement officials tell NBC News that the FBI did take an initial look at the Clinton Foundation based on allegations that were made in the press, and a book that’s gotten some attention -- excuse me -- but that there have been no developments on that front in the last several months. That said, here’s what Donald Trump said:

    [BEGIN VIDEO]

    DONALD TRUMP: The FBI agents say their investigation is likely to yield an indictment. But just remember, the system is rigged. Just remember that. And reports also show the political leadership at the Department of Justice is trying to protect Hillary Clinton and is trying to interfere with the FBI investigation

    [END VIDEO]

    ABC News’ sources similarly called the Fox report “inaccurate and without merit.” In a November 3 article, Matt Levine wrote that ABC News’ sources told him that in February, “prosecutors and senior FBI officials agreed there was no clear evidence of wrongdoing, and that a criminal case tied to the Clinton Foundation could not be made.” ABC further reported:

    Investigators and higher-ups have continued to discuss the matter, but there has been no change in posture, sources said. Authorities still believe there is no evidence of wrongdoing, and they do not believe there is a sufficient reason to pursue charges, according to the sources.

  • Fox’s Bret Baier Walks Back Flawed Reporting About “Likely” Clinton Indictment

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Fox News’ Bret Baier walked back his November 2 claim, which was based on two unnamed sources, that FBI investigations relating to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton will “continue to likely an indictment.” On the November 3 edition of Fox’s Happening Now, Baier described his comments as “inartful,” acknowledging that “that’s not the process.” Baier’s uncritical reporting of anonymous, unvetted sources has been parroted by a stream of Fox hosts and correspondents, as well as right-wing blogs

    The Daily Beast has reported on a pipeline between conservative FBI agents (both active and retired) -- angered by FBI Director James Comey’s conclusion in July that there was insufficient evidence to recommend any indictment in the review of Clinton’s use of private email as secretary of state -- and Fox News. According to The Daily Beast, “Trump supporters with strong ties to the agency kept talking about surprises and leaks to come -- and come they did.” From the November 3 edition of Fox News’ Happening Now:

    MARTHA MACCALLUM (CO-HOST): The FBI sources that you spoke with suggest that an indictment is likely. That would prove -- go ahead.

    BRET BAIER: I want to be clear -- I want to be clear about this, and this was -- came from a Q and A that I did with Brit Hume after my show and after we went through everything. He asked me if, after the election, if Hillary Clinton wins, will this investigation continue, and I said, “yes absolutely.” I pressed the sources again and again what would happen. I got to the end of that and said, “they have a lot of evidence that would, likely lead to an indictment.” But that’s not, that’s inartfully answered. That’s not the process. That’s not how you do it. You have to have a prosecutor. If they don't move forward with a prosecutor with the DOJ, there would be, I'm told, a very public call for an independent prosecutor to move forward. There is confidence in the evidence, but for me to phrase it like I did, of course that got picked up everywhere, but the process is different than that.

  • Bret Baier Is Serving As A Mouthpiece For Unknown Sources On FBI Stories

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Amid an unprecedented stream of leaks from anonymous FBI sources to various media outlets, Fox News’ Bret Baier is reporting unverified but explosive allegations about bureau investigations involving Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton based on extremely sketchy sourcing, escalating the scandalized tenor of the campaign just days before its climax. Baier’s unsubstantiated claims based on anonymous sources contradict reports from other media outlets and public FBI statements and are overplaying what is reportedly a common dispute between law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

    In a November 2 report, Baier cited “two separate sources with intimate knowledge of the FBI investigations into the Clinton emails and the Clinton Foundation” to claim that the investigation “into possible pay-for-play interaction between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Foundation” is a “‘very high priority'” and that “agents are actively and aggressively pursuing this case.” Baier said FBI agents “had collected a great deal of evidence” to suggest wrongdoing -- though his reporting did not indicate what the alleged evidence concerned or who it suggested committed a crime.

    Baier also alleged, per his anonymous sources, that the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server has turned up “new emails, not duplicates, that have been transported … [through Clinton’s] server,” and that FBI officials are claiming with “99 percent accuracy” that the server “had been hacked by at least five foreign intelligence agencies.” Baier ultimately claimed that the investigation “will continue to likely an indictment.” Since Baier broke the news, a steady stream of fellow Fox hosts and correspondents have been furiously hyping his claims.

    Baier’s uncritical reporting of anonymous sources first and foremost calls into question the veracity and motivation of the allegations being made. Who are Baier’s sources? They could be disgruntled FBI agents pursuing the investigations. But the description of “sources with intimate knowledge of the FBI investigations” doesn’t require that the sources have firsthand knowledge -- Baier’s sources could include partisan congressional Republicans seeking to influence the election or even someone like Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani, who reportedly has “illicit FBI sources” who “[circumvent] bureau guidelines to discuss a case with a public partisan.”

    Regardless of the source, Baier has decided to parrot their claims with no scrutiny, turning him into a mouthpiece for these unknown actors.

    Having accepted that role as a de facto spokesman for whomever is leaking information, Baier is effectively turning what is reportedly a common dispute between intelligence agencies into an election scandal on the cusp of Election Day. According to The Wall Street Journal, “Senior officials in the Justice Department and the FBI didn’t think much of the evidence [related to the Clinton Foundation investigation], while investigators believed they had promising leads their bosses wouldn’t let them pursue.” Thus, agents and officials in the FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) have become “increasingly frustrated with each other, as often happens within and between departments” (emphasis added). As the Journal previously reported, “It isn’t unusual for field agents to favor a more aggressive approach than supervisors and prosecutors think is merited.”

    Baier’s reporting on the Clinton Foundation investigation is taking one side of a two-front battle, and thus leaving out critical context that senior DOJ and FBI officials believe there to be no case in the Clinton Foundation investigation and that disputes like this are common. His reporting also ignores context reported by the Journal that FBI agents have repeatedly been told to drop the investigation specifically because information gathered was “weak” and unimpressive.

    Baier’s decision to trumpet these claims is reminiscent of Fox’s endless flogging of the New Black Panthers Party pseudoscandal. In 2010, the network devoted hours of coverage to generating a scandal around the decision by senior career Justice Department officials to overrule a push from lower-level attorneys to seek more charges in the case. An internal investigation ultimately cleared DOJ officials of any wrongdoing or misconduct in that case.

    Moreover, Baier’s allegations about the Clinton email investigation raise more questions than answers about the claims. In choosing to parrot his sources, Baier is willingly ignoring the obvious holes in the story. His claim that FBI officials are “99 percent” sure that the server “had been hacked by at least five foreign intelligence agencies” flies in the face of the FBI’s public statements that there is “no evidence” Clinton’s server was hacked -- leading to question why Baier didn’t raise that contradiction. While Baier reports that his sources think the email investigation will “likely” result in "an indictment," he doesn’t bother to answer the questions of who is supposedly going to be indicted, and for what?

    Baier is essentially taking information already known about a dispute over the significance of the Clinton Foundation investigation, uncritically amplifying one side of that dispute with shaky claims, and parroting anonymous leaks that are likely overblown to further cast an aura of scandal right before the election. The reports leave little doubt that Fox News is acting as “the pipeline for the fifth column inside the bureau” that is publicly seeking to influence the election.

  • Trump Ally Roger Stone’s Teleconference Was Full Of Lies And Smears

    Blog ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    Political trickster Roger Stone, a close confidant of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, used his biweekly open teleconference with the public to push numerous lies and smears in an effort to damage Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign

    Stone is a discredited author and a Republican political operative with a history of racism and sexism. He is an informal adviser to the candidate. He has previously peddled falsehoods about election rigging, 9/11, and the Clinton and Bush families committing murders, including of John F. Kennedy Jr., among other conspiracies. CNN and MSNBC have banned Stone from appearing on air because of his offensive rhetoric and disregard for truth. Even so, the Trump campaign’s recent shift in campaign strategy to focus on the Clintons’ personal affairs indicates it will follow an election strategy laid out by Stone.

    During his September 29 “Insider Teleconference,” Stone continued to spread conspiracy theories and smears about the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton, and billionaire George Soros.

    Stone Claimed Clinton Wore An Earpiece During Debate: “The Fix Was In”

    During the live teleconference, Stone falsely claimed Clinton was “quite clearly operating with an earpiece” to receive answers to questions during the September 26 presidential debate because “she can’t remember anything.”

    He also falsely alleged that Clinton “clearly had advance notice to the questions” at the debate and accused NBC of “some funny business,” including sending an intern to Clinton’s campaign headquarters ahead of the debate to help prepare. Stone added that it was “clear” that “the mainstream media fix was in,” and he attacked moderator Lester Holt. This conspiracy theory, also pushed by fellow Trump ally Newt Gingrich, originated from a fake news website.

    Stone Warned That Clinton Could Rig Voting Machines “For A Desired Result”

    Stone warned his listeners that Clinton may rig voting machines to defeat Trump. Stone said “there is no doubt” that voter machines are “easy to manipulate” and “program to have a desired result.” He baselessly claimed there was evidence showing voting machines were “rigged by Hillary to screw Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries,” and that “if Hillary will cheat Bernie, she’ll cheat Donald Trump and the American people.” Trump has also pushed the “rigged” claim, and numerous media figures have condemned it as “preposterous” and “irresponsible.”

    Stone leads the pro-Trump group Stop The Steal, which aims to “stop the Democrats from stealing the election from Donald Trump.” The group claims that it will “[d]emand inspection of the software used to program the voting machines in every jurisdiction prior to the beginning of voting by an independent and truly non-partisan third party” and “[c]onduct targeted EXIT-POLLING in targeted states and targeted localities that we believe the Democrats could manipulate.”

    Stone Called Billionaire George Soros A “Nazi War Criminal”

    Stone encouraged listeners to join his “Defend the Donald” blogging campaign aimed at fighting Trump criticism online. Stone also attacked Media Matters, which he claimed receives funding from billionaire political activist George Soros, who is Jewish and who Stone called a “Nazi war criminal.” The smear against Soros, who has donated to Media Matters in the past, has previously been debunked

    Stone tweeted in 2014 that Soros should be “detained, charged, tried, convicted and executed. He is a cancer on the body politic.”

    Stone Doubted CIA Reports On Russian Hackers And Claimed CIA Director Works For Clinton’s Campaign

    Stone also raised doubts about CIA Director John Brennan’s finding that the United States should be concerned about Russian cyberattacks and attempts to influence the 2016 election, calling such concerns “laughable.” Stone challenged Brennan to put forth evidence, said that the director “has been politicized,” and accused him of “reading the talking points from the Clinton campaign, presumably because he wants to keep his job.” Brennan’s warning came after security officials agreed that Russian hackers were most likely responsible for stealing email records from the Democratic National Committee over the summer and noted that there was evidence they were behind other hacking attempts.

    Stone also called concerns about Trump’s connections to Russia “the new McCarthyism” despite Trump’s numerous campaign connections to Russia and Trump’s support and praise for Russia’s president and policies.

  • Politico’s False Equivalency On Election Rigging

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Politico perpetuated a false equivalency between claims from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump of a “rigged” election, which are grounded in conspiracy theories and right-wing myths, and worries from Democrats, including Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, that Russia is attempting to interfere with the election, which are based on recent precedent and intelligence.

    In a September 28 article claiming both Clinton and Trump are engaging in a “conspiracy theory” and “feed[ing] the rigged-election charge,” Politico explained that Trump and his allies have been “sounding the alarm since summer that the results in battleground states – from Ohio to Florida – will be fixed so he’ll lose.” The report went on to erroneously equate Trump’s claim with worries from Democrats, including Clinton, that Russia could be “‘attempting to influence the outcome of the election,’” writing:

    But Trump isn’t the only one who warns the election is being tampered with.

    Clinton’s campaign contends that the Republican’s shadowy connections to Russia may be tied to the slow release of hacked emails meant to embarrass the Democrat to the point that she loses in November. While Obama said in an NBC interview in July that “anything’s possible” when it comes to Russia’s attempts to influence the presidential election, the U.S. government still hasn’t officially named a culprit in the hackings.

    “It’s a fascinating question, and an important question, and an alarming question when the Russian government appears to be attempting to influence the outcome of the election,” Clinton spokesman Glen Caplin said in a recent interview.

    At an August 1 rally, Trump baselessly asserted that he’s “afraid the election’s going to be rigged.” Trump went on to double down on his claim, adding that without voter ID laws, people “are going to vote 10 times.” Trump was widely denounced by journalists for his claims. The New York Times editorial board called his comments “not just ludicrous, but dangerous.” And Talking Points Memo editor John Marshall wrote that Trump used “this canard to lay the groundwork for rejecting the result of a national election.”

    Trump’s claims are grounded in conspiracy theories and misinformation. Trump ally and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones asserted on August 1 that Clinton “stole the primary” and is “going to try to steal the general election.” Fellow conspiracy theorist and Trump ally Roger Stone urged Trump to raise the issue of a “rigged” election on the July 29 edition of The Milo Yiannopoulos Show, saying, “I think we have widespread voter fraud, but the first thing Trump needs to do is begin talking about it constantly.” Fox News hosts and contributors helped mainstream these conspiracy theories, arguing that talking about the possibility of rigged elections is “an important discussion to have going into the election.”

    Trump’s claims are linked to conservative myths used to push for discriminatory voter ID laws. Right-wing media have repeatedly pushed myths about in-person voter fraud, arguing that denying voter fraud exists “is to frankly deny reality.” Academic studies, however, have found that “voter fraud is vanishingly rare” and that voter ID laws largely disenfranchise minority voters.

    Concerns that Democrats, including Clinton, have raised about Russian interference in the election, however, are grounded in recent precedent and government intelligence. The New York Times reported that intelligence officials “have ‘high confidence’ that the Russian government was behind the theft of emails and documents from the Democratic National Committee” this summer. Russia is also suspected of having hacked into the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s computer system.

    The FBI also said there is evidence that Russian hackers “targeted voter registration systems in Illinois and Arizona.” In addition, on September 22, the Democratic ranking members on the Senate and House Intelligence Committees warned, “Based on briefings we have received, we have concluded that the Russian intelligence agencies are making a serious and concerted effort to influence the US election.” Given Trump’s reported ties to Russia, including the connections of some of his current and former senior campaign staff, the idea that Russia would want to sway the election is not unrealistic.

    Politico’s false equivalence of these two accusations is made more incredulous by the article’s acknowledgment that “Clinton and many other election watchers are not flying blind in making this allegation” about Russian interference, and the article detailed some of the evidence behind the concern.

    But this is hardly the first time media outlets have applied false equivalency during this election. For example, numerous reports claimed that Trump and Clinton were “exchang[ing] racially charged attacks” after Trump claimed that Clinton is a “bigot.” But Trump’s remarks consisted only of outlandish, evidence-free insults while Clinton reasonably and accurately described Trump’s racist rhetoric and very real ties to white nationalists and the "alt-right."

    False equivalency is a dangerous practice journalists use to give both sides equal weight, even when there is a clear right and wrong. By perpetuating in this false dichotomy, media outlets are doing disservice to their audiences.

  • After Terror Attacks, Fox News Brings On Anti-Muslim Fearmongers To Push Lies And Anti-Refugee Rhetoric

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Fox News is providing a platform for conservatives to spread misinformation about refugees and stoke anti-Muslim fears following a series of apparent terror attacks around the country. Fox’s open-door policy for fearmongers is in keeping with the network’s disconcerting history as a source of Islamophobia and anti-immigrant and anti-refugee sentiment after terror attacks at home and abroad.

    Authorities have arrested a suspect in the September 17 bomb explosions in Manhattan and Seaside Park, N.J.; a suspect was shot in a stabbing spree the same day in Saint Cloud, MN. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “We have every reason to believe this was an act of terrorism,” referring to the two New York area bombings, and ISIS has claimed responsibility for the Minnesota mall attack.

    President Obama advised that “the press try to refrain from getting out ahead of the investigation” and warned against the dissemination of “false reports or incomplete information” -- a warning Fox News ignored as it hosted a series of guests who peddled anti-Muslim talking points and xenophobic rhetoric.

    During a segment that led off with Fox host Ainsley Earhardt asking, “Is the Somali refugee crisis now a terror crisis?” Fox contributor Pete Hegseth warned of the “incubation” of radical Islam in “radical mosques” in Minnesota, claiming that “the problem is that a lot of those communities have not assimilated the way we would want them to.” Hegseth then proclaimed that there “is a terrorist recruitment problem in Minnesota.” Hegseth regularly fearmongers on Fox’s airwaves about terror and the “concerns about integration” of Muslims.

    Jim Hanson, executive vice president of the anti-Muslim hate group Center for Security Policy, argued for heightened policing of Muslim communities because the New York attacker was “conducting jihad” and “saying Allahu Akbar.” Hanson also baselessly speculated that the Chelsea neighborhood of New York was targeted because it “is a prominently gay area” and claimed that “there’s a decent chance that this might have been another attempt to attack the gay community.” Hanson has regularly appeared on Fox to spread fears about Islam and terror. 

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump appeared on Fox & Friends to fearmonger about refugees and immigration, claiming that President Obama’s policy of “letting people in by the thousands and tens of thousands” will lead to terror attacks “happen[ing] perhaps more and more all over the country.”

    Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a senior adviser to Trump and a Fox regular, exploited the attacks to call for surveilling the Muslim community, adding that it “is absolute nonsense” to say that going “into these communities” for that purpose is Islamophobic. Flynn suggested that heightened surveillance of Muslim communities doesn’t occur because of “political correctness” and that “political correctness kills. It will cause death.” Fox has a record of responding to terror attacks by pushing profiling and mosque surveillance, which have been found to be ineffective and, according to the ACLU, lead to stigma, interference with religious worship, fear, free speech violation, and damaged relationships with law enforcement.

    Conservative columnist and Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich claimed that the government is letting refugees come “into the country unvetted from terrorism hotspots all over the world,” even though the United States has a rigorous and stringent vetting process for refugees and immigrants.

    Fox News consistently turns to fearmongering, anti-Muslim narratives after terror attacks, adopting racially charged rhetoric and recycling distorted lies about Muslims and refugees. Fox hosts and guests exploited the European refugee crisis and used the Paris terrorist attacks to stoke fears about admitting refugees into America; conservatives used Fox to advocate for profiling Muslim Americans following the San Bernardino, CA, shooting; and right-wing pundits twisted the Brussels attack to whip up anti-Muslim fears.

  • Meet The Iraq War Architect: Paul Wolfowitz Uses Opportunity On NBC To Re-litigate Iraq Invasion

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    NBC’s Meet the Press hosted Paul Wolfowitz, one of the discredited architects of the Iraq War, on the 15th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Wolfowitz took advantage of the platform to downplay his role in starting the conflict. He also used his appearance on the program to object to statements that President George W. Bush misled America before the war, despite a Senate intelligence report which concluded that the Bush administration made its case for war with statements not supported by the intelligence available at the time.

    Wolfowitz, who served in the Bush administration from 2001 through 2005 as Deputy Secretary of Defense, is universally recognized as one of the original architects of the Iraq invasion. He infamously predicted the war reconstruction effort could pay for itself from Iraqi oil revenue (for reference, the cost of the Iraq War is now estimated to be more than $2 trillion), and publicly accused Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein of possessing weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) long after the intelligence community had informed the Pentagon that he did not. Later, Wolfowitz claimed that the conflict was primarily about liberating the Iraqi people rather than confronting the supposed WMD threat, while also making the assertion -- without evidence -- that without the invasion, "we would have had a growing development of Saddam's support for terrorism."

    On his September 11 appearance on Meet the Press, Wolfowitz said he rejects the title of “architect of the Iraq war,” because he “was not the commander-in-chief, or even the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, or national security advisor.”

    Wolfwowitz also whitewashed President Bush’s misleading statements leading up to the war. Wolfowitz said: “People who say after the fact that Bush lied and got us into a war, he wasn’t lying. He was saying what everyone believed” about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction. Host Chuck Todd responded by asking, “Who lied? … Somebody got us into this, and somebody convinced the United States Congress that weapons of mass destruction were imminent in Iraq.”

    But instead of asking an Iraq War architect to deflect blame from the administration he served in, Todd could have referenced the Senate Intelligence Committee report that was covered by news outlets when it was released in June 2008. The report found that some statements by President Bush and senior members of the administration about Iraq, terrorist organizations, and weapons of mass destruction were “contradicted by available intelligence information,” “did not accurately convey the intelligence assessments,” and “were not substantiated by the intelligence.”

    From the June 5, 2008, United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report, titled Whether Public Statements Regarding Iraq by U.S. Government Officials Were Substantiated by Intelligence Information:

    (U) Conclusion 12: Statements and implications by the President and Secretary of State suggesting that Iraq and al-Qa'ida had a partnership, or that Iraq had provided al-Qa'ida with weapons training, were not substantiated by the intelligence.

    Intelligence assessments, including multiple CIA reports and the November 2002 NIE [National Intelligence Estimate], dismissed the claim that Iraq and al-Qa'ida were cooperating partners. According to an undisputed INR [State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research] footnote in the NIE, there was no intelligence information that supported the claim that Iraq would provide weapons of mass destruction to al-Qa'ida. The credibility of the principal intelligence source behind the claim that Iraq had provided al-Qa'ida with biological and chemical weapons training was regularly questioned by DIA [Defense Intelligence Agency], and later by the CIA. The Committee repeats its conclusion from a prior report that "assessments were inconsistent regarding the likelihood that Saddam Hussein provided chemical and biological weapons (CBW) training to al-Qa'ida."

    (U) Conclusion 13: Statements in the major speeches analyzed, as well additional statements, regarding Iraq's contacts with al-Qa'ida were substantiated by intelligence information. However, policymakers' statements did not accurately convey the intelligence assessments of the nature of these contacts, and left the impression that the contacts led to substantive Iraqi cooperation or support of al-Qa'ida.

    [...]

    (U) Conclusion 15: Statements by the President and the Vice President indicating that Saddam Hussein was prepared to give weapons of mass destruction to terrorists groups for attacks against the United States were contradicted by available intelligence information.

    The October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate assessed that Saddam Hussein did not have nuclear weapons, and was unwilling to conduct terrorist attacks [sic] the US using conventional, chemical or biological weapons at that time, in part because he feared doing so would give the US a stronger case for war with Iraq. This judgment was echoed by both earlier and later intelligence community assessments. All of these assessments noted that gauging Saddam's intentions was quite difficult, and most suggested that he would be more likely to initiate hostilities if he felt that a US invasion was imminent.

  • The Benghazi Hoax Has Its Own Night At The GOP Convention

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    The Republican National Convention will include a themed-night highlighting the September 11, 2012, Benghazi attacks, according to a new report. The announcement follows years of conservative media myths surrounding the attacks.

    According to The New York Times, the convention will emphasize “a few of [Donald Trump’s] favorite hot-button issues,” featuring different themes each night of the convention, including “the 2012 attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi.” From the Times July 13 report (emphasis original):

    A night highlighting the tragedy in Benghazi, Libya. An appearance by onetime football star Tim Tebow. A presentation detailing former President Bill Clinton’s sexual misconduct.

    Donald J. Trump, the presumptive nominee, has been promising a different kind of Republican National Convention, and plans obtained by The New York Times show that he is eager to put his showbiz stamp on the party’s gathering, even as he struggles to attract A-list talent.

    [...]

    There are plans to emphasize different themes each night of the convention. Mr. Trump wants to touch on a few of his favorite hot-button issues, like the 2012 attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, former President Clinton’s infidelities and border security.

    [...]

    Night 1: A Benghazi focus, followed by border patrol agents and Mr. Shaw, whose son was killed by an undocumented immigrant. Senator Cotton, Mr. Giuliani, Melania Trump, Ms. Ernst and others.

    Conservative media have spent years continually misleading about the attacks and falsely alleging nefariousness on the parts of Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration. Fox News, in particular, relentlessly pushed misinformation surrounding the attacks, running nearly 1,100 segments on the attacks within the first 20 months after the attacks alone. Thanks in part to Fox’s calls for a special investigation into the attacks, House Republicans convened a two-year select committee to investigate that subsequently revealed little new information about the attacks. Donald Trump has also used conservative media myths surrounding the attacks throughout his campaign thus far, and has lamented that “outside of Fox, Benghazi has never resonated.”