Fox News' Megyn Kelly dishonestly criticized the Obama administration for allegedly endorsing an anti-terror handbook which advises against referring to terrorists as "jihadis," as it "emboldens them," failing to mention that the Bush administration made a decision to stop using the word "jihadist" to describe terrorists in 2008.
On the October 15 edition of The Kelly File, Kelly hosted National Review Online's Andrew McCarthy to discuss the State Department's Twitter "endorsement" of a handbook that aims to prevent the recruitment of young people by terrorist groups. Kelly quoted the handbook, which was created by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and two Canadian Muslim organizations, as saying jihad is "noble," and said that "our State Department sends this out saying, enjoy." McCarthy stated that this is "the position of the Obama administration. It has been from the beginning of the administration," and criticized CIA chief John Brennan for saying in 2010 that "we can't use the word 'jihad' in connection with terrorism because jihad is a noble concept in Islam."
But this shift in language used to discuss terrorism predates the Obama administration. In May 2008, UPI reported that "U.S. officials are being advised in internal government documents to avoid referring publicly to al-Qaida and other terrorist groups as Islamic or Muslim, and not to use terms like jihad or mujahedin, which "unintentionally legitimize" terrorism." The report continued:
Instead of calling terror groups Muslim or Islamic, the guide suggests using words like totalitarian, terrorist or violent extremist -- "widely understood terms that define our enemies appropriately and simultaneously deny them any level of legitimacy."
By employing the language the extremists use about themselves, the guide warns, officials can inadvertently help legitimize them in the eyes of Muslims.
"Never use the terms 'jihadist' or 'mujahedin' ... to describe the terrorists," instructs the guide. "A mujahed, a holy warrior, is a positive characterization in the context of a just war. In Arabic, jihad means 'striving in the path of God' and is used in many contexts beyond warfare. Calling our enemies Jihadis and their movement a global Jihad unintentionally legitimizes their actions."
"There are some terms which al-Qaida wants us to use because they are helpful to them," Daniel Sutherland, who runs the Department of Homeland Security Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, told United Press International in an interview.
"This is in no way an exercise in political correctness ... we are not watering down what we say."
Fox has attacked the Obama administration for adopting this uncontroversial understanding of jihad in the past. In 2013, Sean Hannity asked if Brennan was "stupid and naïve" for describing jihad as a legitimate tenet of Islam. In 2010, Fox host Brian Kilmeade called a ban on references to jihad "insulting" -- again, without noting the Bush administration's similar policy, which former Bush advisers said laid the groundwork of the Obama administration policy.
Fox News falsely claimed an indictment filed against alleged Benghazi attacker Ahmed Abu Khattala proves the September 11, 2012, attack was not sparked by an anti-Muslim video. But Fox ignored the fact that Abu Khattala himself reportedly cited the video as his motivation for the attack.
On October 15, Fox & Friends reported that new charges against Abu Khattala allege that he "masterminded the pillage of ... documents, maps and computers, secret stuff" from the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi during the assault. Guest host Kimberly Guilfoyle claimed these details prove Fox's longtime claim that the Benghazi attack was "a planned terrorist attack. Not a spontaneous outburst of some kind of video."
But in reality, planning theft of confidential information during the assault and targeting the U.S. outpost in response to an anti-Muslim video are not mutually exclusive. Abu Khattala reportedly "told fellow Islamist fighters and others that the assault was retaliation for the same insulting video." According to The New York Times:
On the day of the attack, Islamists in Cairo had staged a demonstration outside the United States Embassy there to protest an American-made online video mocking Islam, and the protest culminated in a breach of the embassy's walls -- images that flashed through news coverage around the Arab world.
As the attack in Benghazi was unfolding a few hours later, Mr. Abu Khattala told fellow Islamist fighters and others that the assault was retaliation for the same insulting video, according to people who heard him.
In an interview a few days later, he pointedly declined to say whether an offensive online video might indeed warrant the destruction of the diplomatic mission or the killing of the ambassador. "From a religious point of view, it is hard to say whether it is good or bad," he said.
Despite Fox's claims, the latest indictment against Abu Khattala does not contradict this account. It is unspecific about the timeline, saying that "on or before" the night of the attack Abu Khattala told people that he "believed the [U.S] facility was actually being used to collect intelligence" and that he was "going to do something about the facility." It also reports that the theft of the documents did not take place during the first portion of the attack. Abu Khattala allegedly took part in the initial 9:45 p.m. assault that set fire to the compound, retreated, and then returned to the facility with other conspirators nearly two hours later to "plunder property from the Mission's office."
Fox News has been relentless in claiming that the attack had no connection to the inflammatory video, spending 478 segments attacking administration talking points that mentioned the connection -- though the myth continues to fall flat.
From the October 10 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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In an article for National Review Online, anti-Muslim activist David Horowitz described the benefits to conservatives of the recent beheadings carried out by the Islamic State terrorist group (ISIS). The October 9 article is headlined "Thank You, ISIS" and bears the subhead, "The beheadings have achieved what all the warnings from conservatives never could":
Beheadings of innocent human beings are unspeakable acts reflecting the barbaric savagery of the Islamic "holy war" against the West -- against us. Yet despite the intentions of their perpetrators, they have had an unexpected utility. Their gruesome images have entered the living rooms and consciousness of ordinary Americans and waked them up.
For more than a decade, a handful of conservatives, of whom I was one, tried to sound the alarm about the Islamist threat. For our efforts, we were ridiculed, smeared as bigots, and marginalized as Islamophobes.
And then came ISIS. The horrific images of the beheadings, the reports of mass slaughters, and the threats to the American homeland have accomplished what our small contingent of beleaguered conservatives could never have achieved by ourselves. They brought images of these Islamic fanatics and savages into the living rooms of the American public, and suddenly the acceptable language for describing the enemy began to change. "Savages" and "barbarians" began to roll off the tongues of evening-news anchors and commentators who never would have dreamed of crossing that line before, for fear of offending the politically correct.
This strange sentiment is made stranger by the fact that a writer for NRO previously accused President Obama of advising ISIS.
Horowitz is a former member of the New Left who, since his political conversion, has made a career out of alleging liberal bias on college campuses and accusing anyone who is not overtly Islamophobic of being in league with terrorists. The Southern Poverty Law Center described Horowitz as "the godfather of the modern anti-Muslim movement."
The website of Horowitz's organization, the David Horowitz Freedom Center, says it "combats the efforts of the radical left and its Islamist allies to destroy American values and disarm this country as it attempts to defend itself in a time of terror."
From the October 9 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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The Department of Homeland Security definitively debunked the persistent right-wing media conspiracy theory that Islamic State fighters have attempted to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, saying the rumor is not supported by any "credible intelligence" and knocking the claim that the terrorists have been apprehended at the border as "categorically false."
What began early this summer as an unsubstantiated claim from Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) that "people that are coming [across the U.S.-Mexico border] from states like Syria that have substantial connections back to terrorist regimes and terrorist operations," (a claim PolitiFact Texas rated "Pants on Fire"), has morphed into a full-blown right-wing conspiracy theory. Conservative media and elected officials are hyping fears that members of the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) terrorist group are utilizing the U.S.-Mexico border to enter the U.S. and launch terrorist attacks, a chorus that has only grown louder in the ensuing months to attack immigration reform.
In September, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) claimed to have seen information detailing "four individuals trying to cross through the Texas border who were apprehended at two different stations that do have ties to known terrorists organizations in the Middle East," a story subsequently hyped by Fox News. Nearly a month later, the number had jumped from four terrorists allegedly apprehended to 10.
Fox News' On The Record provided a platform to Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) who claimed to have first-hand knowledge of the terrorists crossing the border. Host Greta Van Susteren replied to Hunter's allegations by asking, "Do you have any information, or any evidence, that they are actually coming in the southern border now?" And Hunter responded, "Yes. ... I know that at least 10 ISIS fighters have been caught coming across the Mexican border in Texas," citing information he'd received from border patrol agents.
But the right-wing talking point is "categorically false," according to the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees border security. On October 8, DHS spokesperson Marsha Catron refuted the rumor that Islamic State terrorists had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border, telling The New Republic:
Fox News used doctored video of an interview with President Obama to claim his description of briefings he received on the night of the Benghazi attack contrasts with former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's. In reality, their accounts are consistent.
Panetta discussed the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi during a September 7 interview with Fox News host Bill O'Reilly. The Factor -- and subsequently the October 8 edition of Fox & Friends -- exploited the interview to revive the debunked claim that Obama didn't describe the Benghazi attacks as terrorism and conclude "the administration did not want to talk about terror." To make their point, each program featured a clip of the president's interview with O'Reilly in February in which the Fox host asked the president about the "terror" designation. The clip egregiously omits Obama's response to the dialogue, in which the president explicitly says, "When somebody is attacking our compound ... that's an act of terror, which is how I characterized it the day after it happened."
Here's a more complete transcript of the the February 2 interview [omitted portion in bold]:
O'REILLY: Did he tell you, Secretary Panetta, it was a terrorist attack?
OBAMA: You know what he told me was that there was an attack on our compound...
O'REILLY: He didn't tell you [...] he didn't use the word "terror?"
OBAMA: You know, in -- in the heat of the moment, Bill, what folks are focused on is what's happening on the ground, do we have eyes on it, how can we make sure our folks are secure...
O'REILLY: Because I just want to get this on the record...
OBAMA: So, I...
O'REILLY: -- did he tell you it was a terror attack?
OBAMA: Bill -- and what I'm -- I'm answering your question. What he said to me was, we've got an attack on our compound. We don't know yet...
O'REILLY: No terror attack?
OBAMA: -- we don't know yet who's doing it. Understand, by definition, Bill, when somebody is attacking our compound...
OBAMA: -- that's an act of terror, which is how I characterized it the day after it happened.
Fox has spent more than two years and 244 segments propping up baseless allegations that the White House engaged in a Benghazi "cover-up" with accusations that the administration waited weeks to admit to the attacks were "terror" or a "terrorist act," though in reality, Obama called the Benghazi attack an "act of terror" during his Rose Garden speech on September 12, the morning after the attacks and repeated the reference twice the next day, during speeches in Colorado and Nevada.
From the October 6 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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From the October 6 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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The New York Post has settled a lawsuit about a front page that the paper ran shortly after the Boston Marathon bombing on which it highlighted two "Bag Men" it claimed were being sought authorities.
Fox News' Martha MacCallum falsely suggested the White House has failed to acknowledge the connection between the Khorasan group, the terrorist organization recently targeted along with the Islamic State (ISIS) by U.S. airstrikes, and Al Qaeda -- ignoring a statement from President Obama doing just that.
During the September 30 edition of America's Newsroom, co-host Martha MacCallum and contributor Stephen Hayes discussed whether the White House had "misunderstood the evolution of Al Qaeda" with respect to ISIS and the Khorasan group. Speculating as to why many people had not previously heard of the Khorasan group, MacCallum asked why "the White House doesn't want to call" the Khorasan group Al Qaeda:
But in a September 23 statement on the U.S. airstrikes in Syria, Obama specifically referenced the Khorasan group's affiliation with the terrorist organization, noting that it consisted of "seasoned al Qaeda operatives" (emphasis added):
OBAMA: Last night, we also took strikes to disrupt plotting against the United States and our allies by seasoned al Qaeda operatives in Syria who are known as the Khorasan Group. And once again, it must be clear to anyone who would plot against America and try to do Americans harm that we will not tolerate safe havens for terrorists who threaten our people.
From the September 29 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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Fox News hyped fears that an influx of immigrants from the Middle East could pose a terrorism threat for the U.S., advocating for greater immigration from English-speaking countries. But Fox's report parrots a study released by the anti-immigration group, the Center for Immigration Studies, and ignored the fact that the growth of Middle East immigrants in the U.S. was modest when compared to other regions.
The September 25 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto cited data that shows 41.3 million "legal and illegal" immigrants currently in the United States and stoked fears over "where a lot of them are coming from." Cavuto highlighted the increased immigration from countries in the Middle East from 2010 to 2013, lamenting the "disproportionate" number of immigrants of Arab descent compared to immigrants from western countries. Guest and conservative pundit Pat Buchanan suggested that the rise in immigrants from the Middle East would increase terror threats in the United States.
Buchanan asserted that "you've got to look with more concern at folks coming out of there than you would look at folks, for example, native born Brits coming over to the United States who speak English perfectly," because the majority of terrorism is committed "by children of immigrants and immigrants themselves from Islamic countries":
Fox News continued to hype reports of an imminent Islamic State terrorist plot against U.S. and Parisian public transportation hours after the U.S. intelligence community discredited the rumor as "total bunk."
News broke on September 25 that Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi had informed reporters at the United Nations of "accurate reports from Baghdad" detailing a terrorist plot by the group calling themselves the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) in advanced stages against subways in the U.S. and Paris, France.
The prime minister's remarks quickly spread across American media, but by early afternoon, U.S. intelligence officials had roundly discredited the rumor. As NBC News reported, "Virtually every major U.S. law enforcement agency and intelligence agency said they had no evidence of any such plot. The report is viewed as 'total bunk,' according to a senior intelligence official."
CNN's Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto tweeted:
Yet over an hour later, Fox News continued to hype fears over the discredited plot. On The Real Story, host Gretchen Carlson repeated the Iraqi prime minister's warning despite noting that an Obama administration official had not confirmed the report, cautioning, "Apparently the plot has not been thwarted."
Rather than acknowledging the fact that multiple U.S. intelligence agencies had discredited reports of the plot, Carlson simply said, "The other threat we heard about today from the Iraqi prime minister, which, by the way, the FBI says this administration doesn't know anything about it, but the word was that the attacks could be imminent on our subway systems here and in Paris."
Right-wing media are claiming that President Obama's decision to target the Islamic State and Khorasan terror groups with airstrikes is a political move designed to give Democrats a boost in the 2014 midterm elections.