An ABC World News report on a federal district judge's ruling that the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program is unconstitutional featured only Bush administration officials and a senior research fellow from the conservative Heritage Foundation defending the "necessity" of the program. The report did not note that the program's effectiveness has been called into question.
Media outlets have uncritically reported the comments of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, who, during interviews, have asserted that U.S. laws on detaining suspected terrorists should be modeled after British laws that allow the United Kingdom to detain a suspected terrorist for up to 28 days without charges. However, none of the media outlets noted the administration's expanded use of material witness warrants to detain people for indefinite periods.
Chris Matthews conflated Islamic terrorists with those "who may be politically on the left," and presented a false choice between "honoring civil rights" and "tap[ping]" terrorists' "phones," suggesting that "honoring civil rights" could lead to "the deaths of thousands of people." Matthews also discussed the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race, in which his brother is the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor.
An August 11 Wall Street Journal editorial claimed that the British government would not "recoil" from using "harsh or stressful questioning" when interrogating suspects recently arrested in connection with an alleged plot to blow up airliners. However, the United Kingdom has adopted the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits the use of "torture" or "inhuman and degrading treatment."
In an August 13 Associated Press article, Nedra Pickler suggested that the controversial aspect of the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program is that it is secret, rather than that it bypasses the law requiring court warrants for such surveillance. The Washington Post's Josh White similarly referred to "secretly wiretapping [terrorism] suspects" as one of several "controversial Bush administration programs," without noting the specific nature of the controversy.
An AP article about a speech by RNC chairman Ken Mehlman uncritically reported his claim that, if in power, Democrats -- specifically Rep. Nancy Pelosi and DNC chairman Howard Dean -- would "surrender" the U.S. government's ability to monitor the communications of suspected terrorists. But Pelosi and Dean both have explicitly acknowledged the need for U.S. intelligence agencies to spy on suspected terrorists, although they have said that the government should conduct such surveillance in accordance with the law
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On Fox News and his radio show, Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed that, because of criticism The New York Times has received for publishing a "terror finance story," the newspaper "announced ... it was cutting 25 percent of its work force." Based on figures provided in a Times article, the announced reductions amount to just over 2 percent of the work force. Similarly, on Your World, guest host David Asman falsely suggested the Times' cutbacks were a result of the public's reaction to the paper's recent reporting. In fact, the Times announced a plan to cut half its production staff by 2017 in September 2004, well before it reported on warrantless wiretapping or the Bush administration's bank-monitoring program.
In a July 18 article, New York Times staff writer Kate Zernike reported that Sen. Lindsey Graham is trying "to resist the White House when it comes to defining the treatment of people accused of being terrorists." But Zernike ignored Graham's controversial efforts to strip habeas corpus rights from the detainees held at Guantánamo Bay -- efforts that included an act of legislative deception that was specifically noted by the Supreme Court majority opinion in the case of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld.
In an article on legislation proposed by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) regarding the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program, USA Today failed to quote a single Democrat or progressive critical of Specter's approach.
On MSNBC's Tucker, former New York Police Department detective Bo Dietl falsely claimed that "all the hijackers that came and then bombed [the United States] on 9-11, all of them were in this country illegally." In fact, all 19 of the 9-11 hijackers reportedly entered the United States legally, though two had overstayed their visas.
Bill O'Reilly and Laura Ingraham baselessly attacked the The New York Times for publishing a photo of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's vacation home. In fact, Rumsfeld's public affairs director confirmed that he granted the Times permission to run the photo, the Secret Service confirmed that the photo "is not a threat" to Rumsfeld's security, and numerous media -- including Fox News -- had previously reported the location of Rumsfeld's residence. Further, a nearly identical photo ran in The Washington Post six months earlier.
In his latest column, David Horowitz baselessly suggested that U.S. officials were able to uncover an alleged "attack by radical Islam" to bomb tunnels leading into New York City by monitoring the communications of Americans, an apparent reference to the controversy over The New York Times' reporting in December that the administration was monitoring domestic communications without a warrant. In fact, there is no indication, in any reports, that the FBI engaged in the kind of domestic eavesdropping on which the Times reported to uncover the alleged tunnel plot; the communications made in connection with the purported plot apparently did not involve a party inside the United States.