Fox News' Alan Colmes repeatedly challenged Fox News political analyst Dick Morris's false claims that "Democrats oppose" "the Patriot Act, the NSA wiretaps, the seizure of bank deposits, [and] data mining."
On the August 29 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Fox News political analyst Dick Morris reiterated the false claim that "Democrats oppose" "the Patriot Act, the NSA [National Security Agency] wiretaps, the seizure of bank deposits, [and] data mining," adding that "[p]eople would love to vote for the Democrats, except they're worried that they'll repeal the Patriot Act and they'll repeal the wiretap." In fact, while many Democrats and other critics of the NSA's warrantless eavesdropping program assert that the Bush administration is acting in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by conducting surveillance of U.S. citizens and legal residents without obtaining a warrant from the FISA court, those critics have not called for the NSA to halt all surveillance of suspected terrorists. Further, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) was the only Democrat to vote against the Patriot Act in 2001, and only nine Democrats voted against the renewal of the act this year.
Throughout the segment, co-host Alan Colmes repeatedly challenged Morris's false claims. Colmes told Morris that "[w]hat Democrats were against was expanding the Patriot Act" and that Democrats do not oppose wiretapping and data mining -- "[t]hey oppose doing it without a court warrant, they oppose doing it without oversight over the presidency."
Morris countered: "Take it on your own terms," adding that "I don't want to get into a debate" because "[w]e did that two weeks ago on the show." As Media Matters for America noted, on the August 21 edition of Hannity & Colmes, Morris did indeed make many of the same false claims, asserting that "the Patriot Act [would be] repealed and the wiretapping program [would be] killed" if Democrats controlled Congress. Media Matters noted at the time that Feingold was the only Senate Democrat to vote against the Patriot Act in 2001 and that only nine Senate Democrats (plus independent Sen. James Jeffords of Vermont) voted against the USA Patriot Improvement and Reauthorization Act in March. Also, contrary to Morris's assertion, it is only warrantless wiretapping in violation of FISA that critics -- including many Democrats -- oppose.
From the August 29 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
MORRIS: President Bush is insisting on defending the war in Iraq and defending the war on terror and saying they're linked. Voters do not think they are linked. The latest New York Times poll shows by about 53 [percent] to 41 [percent], they do not believe that they're linked; they believe they're separate. The Democrats oppose both what Bush is doing in the war on terror and in Iraq, and Bush supports what he's doing in Iraq and in the war on terror. The answer is not to go into Iraq for Bush, but to talk about the war on terror. It's far more important to people whether there's wiretapping that protects them from having their airplane blown up over the Atlantic Ocean --
SEAN HANNITY (co-host): Right.
MORRIS: -- or the Sears Tower knocked down --
HANNITY: Than the Iraq issue.
MORRIS: -- than what's going on in Iraq.
HANNITY: All right, let me, let me -- because --
MORRIS: And they see Iraq as unsolvable, they think that on balance we probably should have gone in, maybe, but what are you going to do about it? But the Patriot Act, the NSA wiretaps, the seizure of bank deposits --
HANNITY: Data mining.
MORRIS: Data mining --
HANNITY: See --
MORRIS: -- they all support that, and the Democrats oppose it.
HANNITY: In many, many ways what you're describing is unfolding naturally. If you talk about the war on terror, the Democrats will talk about Iraq, the Republicans will talk about how weak the Democrats are because they oppose the very issues you're discussing here.
MORRIS: That's the first breath, but the second breath is a defense of being in Iraq that turns the voters off.
COLMES: That's an interesting theory, Dick. I want to talk to you about Kerry in a second, but first what you just said about Democrats opposing wiretapping and data mining, they don't. They oppose doing it without a court warrant.
MORRIS: Yeah, OK, OK.
COLMES: They oppose doing it without oversight over the presidency, that's all.
MORRIS: Take it on your -- take it on your own terms, and I don't want to get into a debate.
COLMES: But that's the issue.
MORRIS: We did that two weeks ago on the show.
COLMES: I love debating you, Dick.
MORRIS: But the issue here, is for the Democrats --
MORRIS: -- is that they should be cleaning up their act on homeland security, not opposing the NSA wiretapping without a warrant --
COLMES: They don't. Right.
MORRIS: -- without a warrant, not opposing the data mining --
COLMES: Well, they want to obey the law and the constitution. That's what they're talking --
MORRIS: -- supporting the Patriot Act, and then, fire on the war in Iraq. People would love to vote for the Democrats, except they're worried that they'll repeal the Patriot Act and they'll repeal the wiretap.
COLMES: Well -- I -- You really think people believe --
MORRIS: They'd love to vote for the Republicans, but they're afraid that they're gonna stay in Iraq.
COLMES: Dick, do you think that people really think the Patriot Act has helped stop us being attacked again?
COLMES: That that's the thing that stood in the way of us not being attacked --
MORRIS: Yes. There are about 100 polls that say that.
COLMES: -- when we almost had an attack a couple of weeks ago.
MORRIS: There are 100 polls that say that. And by the way, I'm in the middle of finishing up a book that's coming out in January --
COLMES: Which you're now going to promote ahead of time.
MORRIS: -- called Outrage, which I'll promote six months ahead --
HANNITY: What's the book, what's it called?
MORRIS: -- called Outrage and it focuses -- has a whole list of the things that wouldn't be there if we couldn't wiretap and have the Patriot Act. The Sears Tower, the Brooklyn Bridge, a whole list --the cargo ships in the Gulf of Hornez [sic: Hormuz]--
COLMES: And by the way, it wasn't the Democrats against the Patriot Act. They were against expanding the Patriot Act as the Bush administration wanted to do, they wanted to take it to the next level --
MORRIS: I'll give you -- I'll give you -- I'll give you a very simple --
COLMES: -- after they promised sunsetting a number of issues.
MORRIS: A very simple example: There was a thing called Operation Crevice, that was a plan to blow up eight or 10 buildings in London. We nabbed a guy who was the central person when he came in through immigration in the United States. Why? Because he went to his local public library in the United States, used the computer and we monitored it --
MORRIS: -- and it permitted us to nab him when he re-entered the country.
COLMES: What Democrats were against was expanding the Patriot Act.
MORRIS: No, they're against the library provision.
COLMES: As the Bush administration tried to do.
MORRIS: They're against that same library provision.
COLMES: They said they were going to sunset things, which they didn't ultimately sunset.
MORRIS: Anyway, I'm here, and my hat as political analyst and I'm saying that both parties are saddled with one thing that's popular that they believe in and one thing that's unpopular. Iraq is unpopular for the Republicans, popular for the Democrats.
HANNITY: I think -- I think --
MORRIS: Homeland security is popular for the R's, unpopular for the D's. And the candidate that loses the unpopular thing and focuses on the one that's popular can win.
HANNITY: We gotta break, but I'm going to tell you something, Republicans need to drive a Mack truck through the fact that Democrats are pathetically weak on national security.
MORRIS: Absolutely, that's right.
COLMES: That's not true.