Distorting Wash. Post report, Gibson claimed Democratic senators are "teed up for lie detector tests" in NSA leak investigation

››› ››› BEN ARMBRUSTER

Fox News' John Gibson misrepresented a Washington Post article to baselessly claim that Democratic senators are "teed up for lie detector tests" in an FBI investigation into the disclosure of the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program. In fact, the Post reported that the Bush administration's efforts to curb leaks have included "a polygraph investigation inside the CIA," not among members of Congress.

On the March 6 edition of Fox News' The Big Story with John Gibson, Gibson misrepresented a Washington Post article to baselessly claim that Democratic senators, including Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV) and Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-IL), are "teed up for lie detector tests" in an FBI investigation into the disclosure of the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program. Focusing exclusively on a potential investigation of Senate Democrats, Gibson claimed that the Post article had reported that "senators and congressional staffers" could be "asked to take polygraph tests." In fact, the Post reported that the Bush administration's efforts to curb leaks have included "a polygraph investigation inside the CIA," not among members of Congress. Further, the FBI investigation into how the surveillance program was leaked to The New York Times has thus far focused on members of the Bush administration, not members of Congress, according to the Times, the Post, and various other news accounts.

Gibson introduced the segment saying "the White House has been on a mission to crack down on leakers since the president's terrorist surveillance program was spilled to the media" -- repeating the Bush administration's preferred terminology for the program -- adding that "according to The Washington Post, senators or congressional staffers who hold security clearances may be asked to take polygraph tests." Gibson was apparently referring to a March 5 Post article that reported that "the Bush administration, seeking to limit leaks of classified information, has launched initiatives targeting journalists and their possible government sources." However, the Post article refers only to polygraph investigations "inside the CIA." Nowhere in the article does the Post mention that members of Congress or their staff will be subject to lie-detector tests.

Then, referring specifically to the White House mission to crack down on leaks as a result of the exposure of the domestic surveillance program, Gibson stated that it is "kind of shocking" that "teed up for lie-detector tests are Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois." Yet according to news reports, the FBI's investigation into the disclosure of the domestic surveillance program has not focused on Rockefeller, Durbin, or any other member of Congress, but rather, the Bush administration itself. For example, a February 12 Times article reported that the "Federal Bureau of Investigation team under the direction of the bureau's counterintelligence division at agency headquarters has questioned employees at the F.B.I., the National Security Agency, the Justice Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the office of the Director of National Intelligence." The Post similarly reported on March 5 that "dozens of employees at the CIA, the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies have been interviewed by agents from the FBI's Washington field office" about the leak of the surveillance program and a separate leak about secret CIA prisons in Europe, according to "law enforcement and intelligence officials." Like the Times report, the Post article did not mention any efforts to investigate members of Congress. The Post mentioned polygraphs only in the context of CIA employees: "At Langley [the CIA's Virginia headquarters], the CIA's security office has been conducting numerous interviews and polygraph examinations of employees in an effort to discover whether any of them have had unauthorized contact with journalists."

Gibson's guest for the segment, American Spectator contributing editor Jed Babbin, has previously claimed that Rockefeller, Durbin, and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) are under investigation for allegedly "blabbing about a highly-classified satellite program to the press" in 2004, a claim he repeated during the segment with Gibson.

From the March 6 edition of The Big Story with John Gibson:

GIBSON: The White House has been on a mission to crack down on leakers since the president's terrorist surveillance program was spilled to the media. Once the weapons [sic] in the fight could be lie detectors. According to The Washington Post, senators or congressional staffers who hold security clearances may be asked to take polygraph tests. Joining us now, Jed Babbin, former deputy undersecretary of defense in the first Bush administration. I think what was kind of shocking about this, Jed, is teed up for lie-detector tests are Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois. Have we ever put a sitting U.S. senator on the polygraph before?

BABBIN: Not to my knowledge, John, but this is a long time coming. There is a pattern of leaks coming out of that committee going back practically all the way to 9-11. We have had several leaks that have damaged national security, not the least of which was the one that Rockefeller and Wyden and Durbin were already subjected to a criminal referral to the Justice Department back over a year ago. So this is a long time coming. It's really high time we got to the bottom of this.

Posted In
Government, The Senate, Justice & Civil Liberties, Domestic Spying
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
John Gibson
Show/Publication
The Big Story with John Gibson
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