OpinionJournal.com editor James Taranto cited a 1998 memo to then-President Bill Clinton titled "Bin Ladin Preparing to Hijack US Aircraft and Other Attacks" to claim that Clinton ignored evidence of the danger Al Qaeda posed to the United States. However, the 9-11 Commission detailed an immediate and aggressive response to the memo by the Clinton administration.
On NBC's Today, discussing the recent dispute between the Clinton and Bush administrations over which administration has better handled the terrorism threat, Bill Bennett falsely claimed that President Clinton was the one who "brought ... up" the topic of his administration's anti-terror efforts. In fact, the recent dispute between the Clinton and Bush administrations grew out of Clinton's Fox News interview, during which host Chris Wallace first brought up the subject by asking Clinton why he did not "do more to put [Osama] bin Laden and Al Qaeda out of business."
In reports on the dispute over the Bush and Clinton administrations' anti-terrorism policies and their culpability in failing to prevent the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Associated Press and Newsday presented the two sides of the argument without exploring the factual basis for either.
Despite initially hyping Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer's and Rep. Curt Weldon's claims that the military intelligence unit Able Danger identified Mohamed Atta prior to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, CNN and other media outlets have completely ignored the Defense Department inspector general's September 21 conclusion that "prior to September 11, 2001, Able Danger team members did not identify Mohammed Atta or any other 9/11 hijacker."
In their coverage of the Clinton-Wallace interview, the media largely ignored the substance of former President Clinton's criticism of the Bush administration's efforts to combat terrorism, instead focusing on Clinton's behavior during the interview or the possibility that his reaction was motivated by politics.
At a White House press conference, President Bush described Americans who think the Iraq war has made the country less safe as "naïve" and rebutted claims that the conflict has contributed to the growing terrorist threat by repeating his illogical argument that "[w]e weren't in Iraq when we got attacked on September the 11th." But reporters failed to challenge his non-responsive remarks, and several print outlets uncritically reported them shortly thereafter.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer failed to challenge White House homeland security adviser Frances Townsend's claims that "there's no question that terrorism was a priority" in the Bush administration before 9-11 and that the Bush administration was unaware of the "comprehensive strategy to proceed with the war on terror" former President Clinton said he left with the incoming administration, despite the fact that the 9-11 Commission offered claims to the contrary.
CNN and the Associated Press reported without challenge Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's misleading response to former President Bill Clinton's recent assertion that the Bush administration failed to adequately address the growing terrorism threat during the eight months prior to September 11, 2001.
ABC's Diane Sawyer let Bill O'Reilly misleadingly defend President Bush's efforts to pursue Osama bin Laden and to put forward without challenge the dubious claim that the so-called "traditionalist" cause O'Reilly champions in his book is "not a religious movement." Sawyer also failed to challenge O'Reilly on the numerous falsehoods, distortions, and misrepresentations in his new book.
In the Fox News premiere of her new show, The Live Desk, host Martha MacCallum advanced several falsehoods regarding the respective anti-terrorism efforts of Presidents Clinton and Bush, while discussing Chris Wallace's recent interview with Clinton. MacCallum falsely claimed that Richard Clarke was demoted by the Bush administration after 9-11 and that the Clinton administration abandoned opportunities to take out Osama bin Laden, despite having him "in their scope."
In discussing former President Clinton's interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, Howard Kurtz wrote in his column that Clinton gave an "impassioned, finger-wagging answer" to Wallace's question about why he failed to "do more ... and put [Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda] out of business." On CNN's Reliable Sources, Kurtz asserted, "[I]t would seem that ... the former president just went overboard." But in neither instance did Kurtz indicate that Clinton gave a substantive defense of his administration's anti-terror efforts in response.
During his interview with former President Bill Clinton on Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace asked Clinton why he failed to "do more" during his presidency to put Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden "out of business," a question, Clinton said, Fox News "do[esn't] ask the other side." Wallace denied the charge, responding, "That is not true."
CNN's Kelly Arena uncritically reported U.S. government officials' claim that the interrogation of Al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah and terrorism suspect Ramzi bin al-Shibh led to the capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But Arena failed to note evidence indicating that the interrogation of Zubaydah and bin al-Shibh had little to no impact on Mohammed's capture.
In recent reports on President Bush's September 20 statement that he "[a]bsolutely" would order U.S. troops into Pakistan to capture Osama bin Laden, Bloomberg News and Reuters joined CNN in ignoring Bush's contradictory statement that the United States could send troops into Pakistan to hunt for bin Laden unless it was "invited" to do so, because Pakistan is a "sovereign nation."