Limbaugh again falsely claimed FISA court blocked search of Moussaoui's computer
For the second time in a week, nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court denied the FBI a warrant to search the laptop computer of Zacarias Moussaoui. But in fact, the FBI never petitioned the court for a warrant after bureau attorneys determined they did not have sufficient evidence.
For the second time in a week, nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh  falsely claimed that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (established by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA) denied the FBI a warrant to search the laptop computer of Zacarias Moussaoui  -- the alleged "20th hijacker" in the September 11, 2001 terrorist plot -- shortly before the attacks. In a conversation with a caller during the January 9 broadcast of his radio show, Limbaugh said the FBI "[c]ouldn't get a warrant to do it [search the computer] from the FISA court. They didn't like the way procedures had been followed. Bammo! 9-11 happened." But in fact, as Media Matters for America has noted , the FBI never submitted a search request to the FISA court; the bureau's attorneys determined that they did not have sufficient evidence to petition the court. A bipartisan Senate Judiciary Committee report  later found  that the investigators did have sufficient evidence but that FBI attorneys had applied a too-stringent standard for establishing probable cause. The report, compiled by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Charles Grassley (R-IA), and Arlen Specter (R-PA), concluded that the standard set by the FBI attorneys exceeded that of FISA.
Limbaugh's comments echoed  those made during his January 4 broadcast, when he joined a caller in denouncing the "federal judge" who allegedly barred the FBI from accessing Moussaoui's computer. Two days later, those erroneous remarks earned Limbaugh the "Worst Person in the World " award on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann .
From the January 9 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show:
CALLER: Well, my point -- my point being, I feel that as a rule, you tend to present sort of a half-truth and leave out certain bits of information such as there are apparatus in place to monitor calls within the United States. And, you know --
LIMBAUGH: Right, have you heard of the case of Zacarias Moussaoui?
CALLER: I have.
LIMBAUGH: Yeah, well, that's a case where we didn't get to find out what was on his computer, and we found out he was the 20th hijacker.
LIMBAUGH: And we missed finding out what was going on beforehand. The FBI wanted to know what was on his computer. Couldn't get a warrant to do it from the FISA court. They didn't like the way the procedures had been followed. Bammo! 9-11 happened.