National Security & Foreign Policy

Issues ››› National Security & Foreign Policy
  • Pundits Defend Trump’s Dangerous Phone Call With Taiwan’s President

    Experts In Asian Pacific Studies And International Relations Warn It “Raises The Risk Of Diplomatic Disaster”

    ››› ››› NINA MAST

    Pundits are defending President-elect Donald Trump’s protocol-shattering phone conversation with Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen as “terrific” and saying it will have “no cost to America,” but experts in Asian Pacific studies and international relations warn that the move “does not bode well for US-China relations” and “raises the risk of diplomatic disaster.”

  • 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.” 

  • Morning Joe Hosts, After Carrying Water For Trump And Meeting Him Privately, Aghast That Anyone Questions Their Impartiality

    ››› ››› KATIE SULLIVAN

    Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, co-hosts of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, have met privately with Donald Trump while Scarborough is reportedly advising the president-elect, yet both still reject media criticism of their overly positive coverage of the former reality show celebrity. On the November 29 edition of Morning Joe alone, the hosts carried water for President-elect Trump on five separate topics, including criticizing journalists for scrutinizing his extensive conflicts of interest and reporting on Pro-Trump “fake news.”

  • Trump's Other Putin-Praising, Anti-Muslim National Security Pick K.T. McFarland Has Supported Torture And War With Iran

    McFarland Is The Latest Fox News Personality To Be Named To New Trump Administration

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    President-elect Donald Trump has named Fox News analyst K.T. McFarland as his pick for deputy national security adviser, joining frequent Fox guest and fellow anti-Muslim Putin fan retired Gen. Michael Flynn on Trump’s White House national security team. McFarland has repeatedly advocated for war with Iran and misled about its nuclear program, expressed support for torture, and has made bizarre and incendiary statements about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other topics.

    McFarland’s Praise Of Russia’s Putin

    McFarland: “Vladimir Putin Is The One Who Really Deserves That Nobel Peace Prize.” In a September 10, 2013, FoxNews.com column, K.T. McFarland credited Putin with offering Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry "a way out of the mess they'd created" with a proposal to place Syria's chemical weapons under international control. McFarland went on to say "the world knows that Vladimir Putin is the one who really deserves that Nobel Peace Prize" for saving "the world from near-certain disaster." [Media Matters, 9/10/13]

    McFarland Lauded Putin For Seizing Ukraine’s Crimea: “Winners Write History.”

    McFarland’s Support For Profiling Muslims

    McFarland Blamed Charlie Hebdo Terror Attack On "Political Correctness," Called For More Profiling To Prevent Future Attacks.

    McFarland’s Response To Brussels Terror Attack: “Political Correctness” By Not Discriminating Against Muslims “Is Getting Us Killed.”

    New York’s Muslim Surveillance Program Failure Shows Profiling American Muslims Doesn’t Work. An April 2014 New York Times report on the shuttering of the NYPD's Muslim surveillance program admitted that after years of collecting information on Muslims in the city, "the police acknowledged that it never generated a lead." The extensive program had police mapping “communities inside and outside the city, logging where customers in traditional Islamic clothes ate meals and documenting their lunch-counter conversations.” [Media Matters, 11/19/15]

    McFarland’s Support For War Against Iran And Opposition To Nuclear Deal

    Since 2008, McFarland Repeatedly Claimed Iran Is A Year Or Two Away From Nuclear Weapons. In December 2008, McFarland claimed “Iran is probably two years away from a nuclear weapon.” In April 2010, McFarland said, “In a couple of months time -- 6 months, 9 months -- we're going to be faced with this choice: bombing Iran or letting Iran get the bomb." And in June 2012, McFarland said Iran is “on the verge of getting nuclear weapons." [Media Matters, 2/21/12; 6/6/12]

    McFarland In 2012: “Either Bomb Iran, Or Let Iran Get The Bomb."

    McFarland: “The Military Option Should Not Be Off The Table” For Dealing With Iran. On the October 11, 2011, edition of Fox News’ America Live, McFarland said:

    MEGYN KELLY (HOST): I want to pick up on your point then that if this is, or can be considered, an act of war, what is that mean? Is that a decision that our government will make, whether to use that terminology, and if they do, does that not raise the stakes?

    McFARLAND: It raises the stakes enormously. What are things that we might do other than sanctions? I mean, we can scold them, but that's not very effective. We could put a blockade around Iran. You know, it's certainly -- if Iran continues with its nuclear weapons program and sort of thumbs its nose at the world, it lends credibility to the idea that the military option should not be off the table, for example. [Media Matters, 10/14/11]

    Numerous Nuclear And Military Experts Supported Nuclear Deal With Iran. In August 2015, the nonpartisan Arms Control Association released a statement from nuclear nonproliferation specialists backing the Obama administration’s deal with Iran over its nuclear program, calling the agreement "a net-plus for nonproliferation." The statement, which was signed by 75 experts, called the agreement "strong, long-term, and verifiable" and noted that it "advances the security interests" of the United States and its allies. Many retired generals and admirals also released an open letter in August 2015 in support of the deal, which they described as “the most effective means currently available to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons." [Media Matters, 8/18/15]

    McFarland’s Support Of Torture

    McFarland Defends Waterboarding: "Even If It's Torture, It's Probably Worth Doing"

    McFarland Criticized Senate’s Publication Of Torture Report: It “Was Completely Political.”

    Click here for the testimonies of numerous experts regarding how techniques like waterboarding are ineffective.

    McFarland’s History Of Incendiary And Bizarre Comments

    McFarland Said Of Hillary Clinton: You Have “Blood On Your Hands” From Benghazi Attack.

    McFarland Claimed Obama Administration Made “Political Decision Not To Rescue” Americans Killed In Benghazi. [Media Matters, 10/10/12]

    McFarland: Saudi Arabia Was Hiding Opposition To Iran Nuclear Deal Because “They’re Arabs” And Thus Dishonest.

    McFarland: "We Should Eventually Take Our Troops Out Of Europe And Put Them On The Mexican Border."

    McFarland Claimed During 2006 Senate Run That Clinton “Had Helicopters Flying Over My House.” TPM Media’s Josh Marshall noted that during her 2006 attempt to run against Clinton for Senate in New York, “McFarland claimed that Clinton was so worried about her candidacy that she sent secret helicopters to spy on her house in the Hamptons and also cased her apartment Manhattan. ‘Hillary Clinton is really worried about me, and is so worried, in fact, that she had helicopters flying over my house in Southampton today taking pictures.’" [TPM Media, 11/25/16]

    McFarland Fell For Obviously Fake Rudy Giuliani Twitter Account.

  • Broadcast Morning Shows Mostly Ignore New Reports Detailing Trump’s Potential Conflicts Of Interests

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ & CYDNEY HARGIS

    Broadcast morning news shows mostly ignored multiple new reports highlighting potential conflicts of interests involving President-elect Donald Trump. In doing so, broadcast news outlets are continuing a pattern of ignoring important revelations about Trump’s business practices.

    On November 21, multiple stories broke detailing “new questions about Mr. Trump’s willingness to use the power of the presidency to advance his business interests.” The New York Times noted that experts in legal ethics claim Trump’s business “arrangements could easily run afoul of” a constitutional clause that protects against conflicts of interest “if [the arrangements] continue after Mr. Trump takes office.” The Times and The Hill both detailed specific incidents during Trump’s transition to the presidency that have “raised concerns about conflicts of interest between his future White House and his private enterprises,” but broadcast news outlets have chosen to ignore the new reports by and large.

    Media Matters searched video and transcripts of the November 22 broadcast morning news shows -- ABC’s Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, and CBS’ CBS This Morning -- for reports on Trump’s conflicts of interest and found that the shows devoted less than two minutes combined to the newest reports of the president-elect’s business dealings overseas. NBC’s Today did not mention the potential conflicts of interest at all, while CBS This Morning had only 23 seconds worth of coverage, and ABC’s Good Morning America spent one minute and 31 seconds on the issue.

    Inadequate reporting of Trump’s inherent conflicts of interest has been a consistent problem, despite concerns that his business entanglements will be a “national security nightmare.” News networks for the most part sidelined reporting on Trump’s conflicts of interest until after his election. Between September 14 and Election Day, the networks aired approximately seven minutes of stories about or at least mentioning Trump’s various conflicts of interest, and in the week after the election, they aired approximately 14 minutes of coverage about conflicts ranging from Trump’s foreign business ties to Ivanka Trump’s company pushing a $10,000-plus bracelet that she wore in a recent 60 Minutes interview.

    Trump’s lack of transparency when it comes to divulging his business dealings makes it imperative that network news shows raise awareness about these conflicts of interest -- but so far, they’re failing.

  • Fox’s Tucker Carlson Is A Putin Apologist

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    In the first full week of his own Fox News prime-time show, host Tucker Carlson failed to mention the post-election revelation that the Russian Foreign Ministry had “contacts” with President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign throughout the 2016 election. Carlson’s silence comes after the Fox host spent the final month of the 2016 presidential campaign denying claims from the United States intelligence community that the Russian government was “trying to influence the outcome of” the presidential election. Now, with his own prime-time show, will Carlson continue to spin for the Russian Federation?

    On October 7, during the final month of the 2016 presidential campaign, President Obama and his administration “officially accused Russia of attempting to interfere in the 2016 elections,” according to The Washington Post. But while appearing on Fox News in the ensuing weeks Carlson called the Clinton campaign’s claim that Russia was trying to influence the election “a lie” that might have a “political motivation behind” it. In fact, Carlson made a point of repeatedly and unequivocally insisting that the U.S. intelligence community was pushing “an utterly unsubstantiated claim from the Clinton campaign that” the cyberattacks on American political institutions are “a Russian propaganda effort,” adding that the U.S. intelligence community doesn’t “know that that’s true; they’re just throwing it out there.”

    Following the election, “a senior Russian diplomat” confirmed that “Russian government officials conferred with members of Donald Trump’s campaign team” during the campaign, a revelation that Carlson failed to mention in his first week hosting his new prime-time show. Media Matters reviewed transcripts and video of the first week of Carlson's new Fox News program, Tucker Carlson Tonight, and found no substantive mentions of the reports that Russian officials were in contact with Trump’s team before Election Day. Carlson’s only substantive discussion or American-Russian relations during the first week of his show began with Carlson asking Garry Kasparov, an activist who opposes Russian President Vladimir Putin, “Why should human rights abuses within Russia dictate our posture toward Russia?”

    Carlson’s personal disinformation campaign regarding Russia’s confirmed role in the presidential election is consistent with his positive characterization of Russia’s actions in Syria. Carlson has praised Putin for “riding to President Obama's rescue” in the Syrian civil war. Moreover, while the State Department and humanitarian monitors note that in many ways Russia is hindering progress in Syria, Carlson has also repeatedly asserted that "Putin is fighting ISIS" in Syria and that "the Assad regime” -- a close ally of Russia’s -- “is also fighting ISIS.” But, as experts note, “Assad's government has done little to counter the rise of IS, instead focusing on its fight against rebel forces.”

    Carlson’s admiration of Putin and Russia is not new. In 2011, Carlson tweeted a link to a Daily Caller article about Putin and proclaimed that the “Tiger fighter” and “bad ass” would be “our greatest hope when Aliens finally attack.”

    Carlson’s first week at the prime-time helm seemed a perfect opportunity to correct his repeated and false claims -- and certainly to mention the Russian government’s admission that it was in contact with the Trump team throughout the election. It seems that instead, he’ll continue to use his platform on Fox News to spin for an American adversary.

  • Trump's Anti-Muslim National Security Adviser Michael Flynn -- A Fox Favorite -- Is Rife With Conflicts Of Interest 

    ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    President-elect Donald Trump has reportedly named retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as his national security adviser. Flynn, a Fox News favorite with conflicts of interest in Russia and Turkey, has frequently appeared on the network to push his anti-Islam views, has lauded Russian President Vladimir Putin, and has made repeated appearances on Russian state television. 

  • What To Know About Fox Contributor And Possible Trump Secretary Of State John Bolton

    Trump Rumored To Be Considering Warmonger And Benghazi Conspiracy Theorist As Nation’s Top Diplomat

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON & CAT DUFFY

    President-elect Donald Trump is reportedly considering numerous right-wing media personalities and cast-off Republican figures for key positions in his incoming administration. John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush and a longtime Fox News contributor, is seen as a front-runner for secretary of state.

  • An Anti-LGBTQ Birther Who Leads An Anti-Muslim Hate Group Reportedly Advising Trump's Transition

    Center For Security Policy’s Frank Gaffney Reportedly Advising Trump’s Transition Team On National Security Issues

    ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Anti-Muslim hate group leader Frank Gaffney is reportedly giving President-elect Donald Trump national security advice for his transition to the White House. Gaffney has a long history of vile statements about Muslims, has embraced white nationalists, flirted with birtherism, and has stridently opposed allowing LGBTQ Americans to openly serve in the military.

  • Fox’s Final Election Hail Mary Is A Four Year Old Benghazi Claim Floated By Organization Of Conspiracy Theorists

    Fox News Already Reported Speculation That Libya Consulate Guards Turned On U.S. Personnel Four Years Ago

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    On the eve of the 2016 presidential election, Fox News pushed a report detailing the “explosive charge” that a security company hired to protect the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, was staffed with locals that participated in the September 11, 2012, attack that left four Americans dead, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Fox actually reported identical speculation more than four years ago; their sources for the charge are an anonymous “independent security specialist, the co-author of a book that stated that there is “no evidence” the guards “were in league with the attackers,” and an organization filled with birthers and conspiracy theorists; and the network’s previous reporting about the security company featured noted fabulist Dylan Davies.

    A week after the September 11, 2012, attack, Fox correspondent Ed Henry reported that “there are reports that security guards” hired by the British security contracting firm Blue Mountain Group “ “turned on the ambassador and that led to his death.” From a Nexis transcript of the September 18, 2012, edition of Fox News’ Special Report with Bret Baier (subscription required):

    HENRY: Today, [State Department spokesperson Victoria] Nuland clarified the administration had, in fact, hired a private security company, Blue Mountain Group, to work inside the perimeter.

    NULAND: They were hired to provide local Libyan guards who operated inside the gate doing things like operating the security access equipment, screening the cars.

    (END VIDEOTAPE)

    HENRY (on-camera): Significant, because there are reports that those Libyan security guards turned on the ambassador and that led to his death. Now, late today, Secretary Hillary Clinton said there was no actionable intelligence about an imminent attack in Libya. The keyword being actionable there.

    Tonight, a FoxNews.com report by Malia Zimmerman and Adam Housley called similar reports an “explosive charge,” and presented them as completely new information:

    An obscure private firm hired by the State Department over internal objections to protect U.S. diplomats in Benghazi just months before the American ambassador and three others were killed was staffed with hastily recruited locals with terror ties who helped carry out the attack, multiple sources told Fox News.

    The explosive charge against Wales-based Blue Mountain Group comes from several sources, including an independent security specialist who has implemented training programs at U.S. Consulates around the world, including in Benghazi, where he trained a local militia that preceded Blue Mountain. The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Blue Mountain used local newspaper ads to assemble a team of 20 guards, many of

    whom had terror ties, after securing a $9.2 million annual contract.

    “The guards who were hired were locals who were part of the Ansar al-Sharia and Al Qaeda groups operating in Benghazi,” said the source, whose assignment in Benghazi had ended in November 2011. “Whoever approved contracts at the State Department hired Blue Mountain Group and then allowed Blue Mountain Group to hire local Libyans who were not vetted.”

    [...]

    John “Tig” Tiegen, one of the CIA contractors that responded to the Sept. 11, 2012 attack and co-author of “13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi,” confirmed to Fox News that the local Libyans who attacked the consulate that night included guards working for Blue Mountain.

    "Many of the local Libyans who attacked the consulate on the night of Sept. 11, 2012, were the actual guards that the State Department under Hillary Clinton hired to protect the Consulate in Benghazi,” Tiegen told Fox News. “The guards were unvetted and were locals with basically no background at all in providing security. Most of them never had held a job in security in the past.

    “Blue Mountain Libya, at the time of being awarded the contract by our State Department, had no employees so they quickly had to find people to work, regardless of their backgrounds,” he said.

    One former guard who witnessed the attack, Weeam Mohamed, confirmed in an email sent to the Citizens Commission on Benghazi and obtained by Fox News, that at least four of the guards hired by Blue Mountain took part in the attack after opening doors to allow their confederates in.

    “In the U.S. Mission, there were four people [who] belonged to the battalion February 17,” Mohamed wrote to the Commission, an independent body formed with Accuracy in Media to investigate the attack and the administration's handling of it.

    Fox’s sourcing for the story -- which would contradict several reports by congressional committees and a review by the State Department -- is extremely dubious. Their lead source is anonymous. Their second source, Tiegan, wrote in his bestseller 13 Hours that there was “no evidence” the guards helped the attackers. From 13 Hours (page 84-85):

    Who opened the gate wasn’t clear, but responsibility for the entrance rested with the Blue Mountain Libya guards. By some accounts the armed invaders threatened the unarmed guards, who immediately acquiesced. A US government review raised the possibility that the “poorly skilled” local guards left the pedestrian gate open “after initially seeing the attackers and fleeing the vicinity.” No evidence has shown that the Blue Mountain guards were in league with the attackers, but maybe they were incompetent. As the report noted, “They had left the gate unlatched before.” Further complicating matters, the camera monitor in the guard booth at the front gate was broken, and new surveillance cameras.

    The network’s third source comes by way of the Citizens Commission on Benghazi, which is staffed by multiple birthers, anti-Muslim activists, and conspiracy theorists who maintained that there was a Benghazi “cover-up.”

    Fox previously relied upon Blue Mountain Group security contractor Dylan Davies for Benghazi reporting -- in fact, Housley himself acknowledged on-air that some of the network's 2012 Benghazi coverage had cited Davies, but they "stopped speaking to him when he asked for money." In 2013, CBS News retracted a report that featured Davies’ fabricated claims about having scaled a wall of the Benghazi diplomatic compound while it was under attack and striking a terrorist with his rifle.

    It’s no surprise that Fox News, whose obsession with finding a way to turn the tragedy in Benghazi into political attacks on President Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, would close the 2016 presidential campaign with a new Benghazi conspiracy.

  • 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.