NBC Today co-host Matt Lauer failed to challenge Sen. John McCain's misleading claims that "members of Congress -- including Democrats -- were briefed" on President Bush's warrantless domestic spying program "and there didn't seem to be ... any public outcry until recently." In fact, of the seven Democratic lawmakers known to have been briefed on the domestic spying program prior to its disclosure by The New York Times, three have said they objected privately at the time, and three more have said they weren't given adequate information about the program. Moreover, these lawmakers could not have raised "any public outcry," because the briefings were classified.
Numerous media outlets have cited Gen. Michael V. Hayden's defense of the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program while ignoring a Justice Department statement from June 2002 that contradicted Hayden's claims. Now that the statement has surfaced, will those media outlets now report the facts undermining Hayden's defense?
CNN's David Ensor reported that the upcoming Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on President Bush's warrantless domestic surveillance program are being held to determine "whether the law should be changed to require court approval of all domestic surveillance." In fact, the purpose of the hearings, as described by the committee chairman, is to determine whether the president had the constitutional authority to ignore the law.
Many news outlets have uncritically repeated Gen. Michael Hayden's claim that the administration's warrantless spying program would have detected some of the 9-11 attackers.
In coverage of President Bush's January 23 speech at Kansas State University, evening news broadcasts on ABC, CBS, and NBC uncritically reported Bush's assertion that his "briefing Congress" about his authorization of warrantless domestic wiretaps by the National Security Agency shows that he believed the wiretapping program was legal; however, members of Congress from both parties have disputed the claim that they were adequately briefed. Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) said that the "program in fact goes far beyond the measures to target Al Qaeda about which I was briefed."
Defending President Bush's domestic spying program in his January 17 column, Pete du Pont claimed that "the federal courts have consistently ruled that the constitution gives the president the authority ... to acquire foreign intelligence without warrants or other approvals." But, contrary to his suggestion, these federal court rulings do not address the legality of Bush's authorization of the National Security Agency to conduct warrantless domestic surveillance.
Numerous media outlets repeated without challenge White House senior adviser Karl Rove's defense of President Bush's warrantless domestic surveillance program, in which Rove falsely claimed that "some important Democrats clearly disagree" with the proposition that "if Al Qaeda is calling somebody in America, it is in our national security interest to know who they're calling and why." In fact, no leading Democrat has said that it is not in our interest to monitor Al Qaeda's communications.
Bill O'Reilly falsely portrayed a San Francisco Chronicle editorial -- about California's proposed "Jessica's Law" -- as based only on concerns for the civil rights of sex offenders. In fact, the editorial was strongly in favor of increased child protection but questioned the effectiveness of the proposed law.
On CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, Andrew C. McCarthy, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and a contributor to National Review, falsely suggested that FISA did not apply in wartime because due process "in wartime is not the same as" due process "the rest of the time." In direct contradiction to McCarthy's claim, FISA does, in fact, contain specific wartime provisions.
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Republican attorney and former Reagan Justice Department official Victoria Toensing offered a variety of falsehoods in defending the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program.
Los Angeles Times columnist Max Boot claimed that the National Security Agency's (NSA) warrantless domestic surveillance program led to the arrest of Al Qaeda accomplice Iyman Faris. But contrary to Boot's assertion, a New York Times report indicated that information gleaned from the NSA eavesdropping program did not play "a significant role" in Faris's capture.
During a World News Tonight report on two recently filed lawsuits that challenge the legality of the Bush administration's use of warrantless domestic surveillance, ABC Justice Department correspondent Pierre Thomas failed to disclose that the "legal scholar" he quoted saying that "it's really questionable" whether the lawsuits can go forward worked as a White House lawyer for President Bush and may have been involved in reviewing and approving the surveillance programs in question.
In a radio commentary, Charles W. Colson claimed that Martin Luther King Jr. was a "great conservative" who would have supported the nomination of Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court.
On CNN's The Situation Room, conservative columnist Frank J. Gaffney Jr. made the dubious claim that by attempting to obtain warrants for electronic surveillance of U.S. persons, as required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), President Bush would have "tipp[ed] off our enemies" to the fact the U.S. government was spying on them.
Numerous media outlets echoed Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales's criticisms of former Vice President Al Gore's January 16 speech, which was highly critical of President Bush's authorization of warrantless domestic espionage in apparent violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Gonzales argued that Gore was being "inconsistent" because the Clinton administration did the same thing; in fact, Clinton's use of warrantless physical searches, which Gonzales cited, did not violate FISA because at the time FISA did not address physical searches.