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Numerous news outlets -- including the Los Angeles Times, ABC, CNN, and CNBC -- uncritically reported President Bush's false claim that Democrats oppose "listening to," "detaining," "questioning," and "trying the terrorists." In fact, Democrats have repeatedly acknowledged the need to eavesdrop on, detain, question, and try terrorists, while objecting to specific Bush administration antiterrorism policies that they consider to be violations of current U.S. or international law, or unwarranted expansions of presidential powers.
In a segment on whether Osama bin Laden will release a propaganda tape prior to the midterm elections -- as he did two years ago -- NBC's Lisa Myers omitted any discussion of bin Laden's motivations in releasing the 2004 message, which the CIA reportedly determined to be an effort to assist in the re-election of President Bush.
On Fox News Sunday, Michael Barone falsely claimed that Democrats would prefer to "hang up the phone and go to court," rather than "listening to what ... terrorists are plotting." In fact, Democrats -- and numerous Republicans and conservatives -- have said nothing of the sort, pointing to a provision in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which the Bush administration has apparently violated, that allows the government to undertake surveillance in emergency situations for up to 72 hours before obtaining a warrant.
CNN reported a claim by Saddam Hussein's lawyer that the release of the verdict in his trial on charges of crimes against humanity two days before U.S. congressional midterm elections is timed to influence that vote, but CNN did not provide evidence that might lend credence to such an accusation: If true, this would be far from the first time that the Bush administration has timed an Iraq- or national security-related event for political advantage.
A Newsweek article by Mark Hosenball wondered whether "Osama bin Laden [is] going to weigh in on the midterm elections," citing a bin Laden tape released before the 2004 presidential election. But in citing reports that bin Laden wants to be "relevant" to the U.S. electoral process, Hosenball told only part of the story, ignoring evidence that bin Laden's 2004 videotape was intended to assist in the re-election of President Bush.
Despite widespread reports of the Taliban's resurgence in Afghanistan, Bill O'Reilly baselessly claimed that it is a "myth" that "Afghanistan's going backwards" and declared that "the Bush administration has won a victory in Afghanistan." O'Reilly also asserted that "10 years ago, nobody [had] even heard of" Iraq; in fact, the United States led a coalition against Iraq in Operation Desert Storm in 1991.
Numerous media outlets reported without challenge President Bush's assertion that the "ultimate accountability" for the Iraq war "rests with me" -- some even asserting that he "took full responsibility for the war." But these reports ignored Bush's consistent pattern of deflecting questions regarding his judgments on Iraq by stating that he defers to others, including top generals, the intelligence community, and the Iraqi government, in making such decisions.
While it cannot definitively be said that the reason the senior Iraqi court in charge of Saddam Hussein's trial postponed its verdict in the case until two days before the November elections so that it would influence the midterms, the postponement suggests several obvious questions, including, most importantly: Given the Bush administration's history of timing national security-related actions to the political calendar, has the date for the verdict's release been set to provide maximum political benefit for the administration and congressional Republicans?