Intelligence

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  • 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.”

  • NY Times Reports On “Marked Classified” Emails In Clinton Case Without Noting The Classification Was Botched

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    On July 7, The New York Times reported on testimony FBI Director James Comey gave to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about the FBI’s recently closed investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email use as secretary of state. Comey discussed the apparent contradiction between Clinton’s public statements that her private email did not contain emails “marked classified” and the director’s July 5 statement to the contrary. But missing from the Times’ report were the facts that two of these emails were reportedly mistakenly classified and that, in his testimony, Comey explained that it was not “reasonable” to assume even an “expert” would have realized they were classified at all because they were incorrectly marked.

    In its report, the Times failed to note that on July 6, State Department spokesperson John Kirby explained to reporters that two emails with a “C” notation, denoting “confidential” material, were marked as such in error. On July 7, before the committee, Comey further testified that the mistaken marking of those emails as classified was also incorrectly performed, as they lacked necessary headers. Comey said that because of this incorrect procedure, it would be “reasonable” to infer that even an “expert at what is classified and what's not classified” would not have realized the email was classified.

    Despite describing the apparent contradiction between Clinton’s statement and Comey’s July 5 claim that a small number of her emails “bore markings indicating the presence of classified information,” the Times failed to report on either Kirby or Comey’s explanation for why the former secretary may have repeatedly claimed she did not send or received emails “marked classified” on her private email account. From the July 7 New York Times article:

    Mr. Comey — who maintained his composure except for one flash of anger when Republicans questioned his integrity — repeatedly acknowledged that the public statements by the former secretary of state, including some she delivered during a sworn appearance before Congress last year, were contradicted by the facts uncovered during the F.B.I. investigation.

    “Secretary Clinton said there was nothing marked classified on her emails, either sent or received,” Representative Trey Gowdy, Republican of South Carolina, said during several hours of testimony by Mr. Comey before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “Was that true?”

    “That’s not true,” Mr. Comey said. Asked later about Mrs. Clinton’s assertion during congressional testimony that none of her emails had been marked “classified,” Mr. Comey said three emails bore small markings indicating that they contained classified information.

  • Right-Wing Media Run With Another Baseless Comparison With Clinton Emails

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Media spuriously likened Hillary Clinton’s email use to the case of Bryan Nishimura -- who was criminally charged with mishandling classified information -- after FBI Director James Comey announced the bureau would not recommend criminal charges against Clinton. Media figures seized on Nishimura’s 2015 charges to erroneously characterize Comey’s announcement as a double standard, but, as with the debunked comparisons of Clinton’s email use to David Petraeus’ and John Deutch’s cases, legal experts note that unlike Clinton, Nishimura knowingly mishandled classified information.

  • Trump, Right-Wing Media In Sync With Conspiracy Theories Over FBI Referral On Clinton Email Server

    ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN & BOBBY LEWIS

    After FBI Director James Comey announced that the FBI has concluded its investigation into the private email server Hillary Clinton used as secretary of state and recommended no criminal charges be filed, right-wing media figures and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump pushed baseless conspiracy theories, including suggesting that the timing of the event was linked to Clinton’s campaign appearance with President Obama later that day.