On Today, during an interview with former CIA agent Michael Sheehan about his new book, Matt Lauer said, "You say we've got to use more undercover agents, informants, wiretapping, email surveillance, the works. The sound you just heard, Michael, is the far left, grabbing for their remote controls, 'cause they say, you're going to do this, you're going to trample civil liberties." In fact, Americans across the political spectrum have denounced the Bush administration for alleged violations of civil liberties.
In the wake of the New York Times exposé on the hidden ties between media military analysts and the Pentagon, the Department of Defense (DOD) released numerous documents related to the program. One is a June 23, 2006, email containing a report written by CNN military analyst Donald Shepperd about his DOD-sponsored trip to Guantánamo Bay on June 21, 2006. In the report, Shepperd wrote: "Did we drink the government kool-aid? -- of course -- that was the purpose of the trip, to hear the U.S. government side of the story, the other side is provided daily in the media, some informed, most by those who have never been to Gitmo."
On Fox News' Your World, Floyd Brown, creator of a new ad claiming that Sen. Barack Obama is "weak in the war on gangs," asserted: "[I]n Chicago, we saw six people killed and over 31 injured. People were stabbed. This is, you know, like Baghdad. And he was the state senator there, and he didn't do anything to clean it up, and I think it's a legitimate issue." Host Neil Cavuto gave no indication that Obama has responded to the ad, much less provide Obama's response.
During his April 15 interview with Sen. John McCain, Chris Matthews failed to challenge McCain on a variety of issues, including Iraq, other foreign policy issues, campaign finance, and spending projects, despite purporting to ask "tough" questions.
The Hill reported that "Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) is expected to announce Thursday that the House GOP floor emphasis will transition away from passing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act." In fact, FISA became law in 1978, and although it has been amended many times since then, it remains in force today.
A Washington Post article about privacy concerns regarding the federal government's Digital Collection System noted that the number of national security letters "issued by the FBI soared from 8,500 in 2000 to 47,000 in 2005," but it did not mention that the Justice Department's inspector general found many "instances of illegal or improper use of national security letters" by the FBI between 2003 to 2005, according to a 2007 IG report.
Fox News' Alisyn Camerota falsely claimed that House "Democrats are pushing legislation which would strip telecommunications companies of their immunity." In fact, the House Democrats' bill does not "strip" telecommunications companies of immunity; it provides immunity prospectively, leaving intact existing immunity provisions under current law and leaving to the courts the question of whether the telecom companies are immune from suit for their prior alleged cooperation with the government in its warrantless domestic wiretapping program.
On CNN's This Week in Politics, Cliff May falsely asserted, unchallenged, that Nancy Pelosi "is not letting a vote come on" a "bipartisan bill passed by the Senate that would restore to intelligence agencies the authority they used to have to ... surveil, to bug terrorists and terrorist suspects abroad." May further claimed, falsely, that Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama "have said they're against this bill that would restore intelligence authority." In fact, the U.S. government currently has the authority to eavesdrop on the communications of suspected terrorists through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Fox News' Bret Baier reported that "in recent days ... Republicans have tried to link surveillance reauthorization to almost every" piece of legislation House Democrats have tried to pass. In fact, the authority to conduct "surveillance" does not need "reauthorization"; the government currently has the authority to eavesdrop on the communications of suspected terrorists primarily through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
On Fox News' America's Pulse, E.D. Hill falsely asserted, "[T]he law that lets them [U.S. intelligence agencies] listen in to phone calls from overseas by known terrorists expired two weeks ago." In fact, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) did not expire; what expired were revisions to FISA under the Protect America Act, which, among other things, expanded the government's authority to eavesdrop on Americans' domestic-to-foreign communications without a warrant.
Like his Fox News colleague Steve Centanni, Mike Emanuel conflated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act with the Protect America Act, asking President Bush at a recent news conference, "[D]o you worry that perhaps some House Democratic leaders are playing a high-stakes game of 'wait and see' in terms of if we get attacked, we all lose, if we don't get attacked, then maybe that makes the case that you don't need all the powers in FISA?"
On America's Newsroom, Fox News' Steve Centanni conflated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act with the Protect America Act, asserting that President Bush is "urging Congress, pushing Congress, to pass the extension of FISA, or what he calls the Protect America Act." In fact, the 1978 FISA law established the federal government's underlying statutory authority to eavesdrop on the communications of suspected terrorists, while the PAA, among other things, expanded the government's authority to eavesdrop on Americans' domestic-to-foreign communications without a warrant.
An AP article falsely suggested that the U.S. government does not currently have the authority to "eavesdrop on phone calls and e-mails of suspected terrorists." The article also claimed, "The Senate has already passed its version of the measure to renew the law, which expired Feb. 16." In fact, what expired on February 16 was the Protect America Act's revisions to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act; the federal government still has the authority under FISA to listen in on the communications of suspected terrorists. The AP made similar false suggestions in a January report.
The subhead of a Washington Post article asserted that according to the U.S. government, some telecommunications firms are "not cooperating" with the Bush administration's surveillance efforts "for fear of liability" following the expiration of the Protect America Act. In fact, the article itself stated: "[A]dministration officials told lawmakers that the final holdout among the companies had relented and agreed to fully participate in the surveillance program, according to an official familiar with the issue."
Bill O'Reilly falsely asserted that the ACLU's lawsuit over the Bush administration's warrantless domestic wiretapping program "was basically an attempt ... to try to overcome a law which was passed by Congress, through the courts." In fact, the ACLU's lawsuit claimed, in part, that the program was in violation of several, as O'Reilly put it, "law[s] ... passed by Congress," including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, and asked that the courts enforce those laws by ordering the program shut down.