Garrett misrepresented Lieberman quote on domestic wiretapping

››› ››› JOE BROWN

Fox News correspondent Major Garrett cropped a quote from Sen. Joseph Lieberman to present a misleading account of Lieberman's view of the Bush administration's warrantless domestic eavesdropping program. Garrett reported that Lieberman said he "supports the surveillance" and called it "a critically important program to the prevention of terrorist acts." But Garrett cut out a key part of Lieberman's statement, in which he said, "I don't believe that [the administration has] operated within the law as it exists."

On the March 13 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, correspondent Major Garrett cropped a quote from Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-CT) to present a misleading account of Lieberman's view of the Bush administration's warrantless domestic eavesdropping program. In a report addressing the resolution introduced by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) to censure President Bush over his authorization of the National Security Agency's warrantless domestic wiretapping program, Garrett reported that Lieberman said he "supports the surveillance" and called it "a critically important program to the prevention of terrorist acts." Garrett also reported Lieberman's comment that "I don't know a person here in the Senate who is against this program." But Garrett cut out a key part of Lieberman's statement, in which he said that he "disagree[s] with the Bush administration's legal judgment" about the program, saying, "I don't believe that they have operated within the law as it exists."

In introducing the resolution, Feingold argued that the Bush administration's conduct of the domestic surveillance program violates the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Additionally, Garrett misleadingly stated that "Lieberman said not only does the Senate oppose censure, it supports the surveillance." In fact, Lieberman didn't "oppose" Feingold's measure in the March 13 press conference on which Garrett reported; Lieberman merely said he would "take a look" at Feingold's proposal.

From the March 13 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:

GARRETT: Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid [D-NV] declined to support the censure resolution.

REID: I commend Senator Feingold for bringing this to the attention of the American people.

GARRETT: Connecticut Democrat Joseph Lieberman said not only does the Senate oppose censure, it supports the surveillance.

LIEBERMAN: But this is a critically important program to the prevention of terrorist acts here in the United States. And I don't know a person here in the Senate who is against this program.

GARRETT: Feingold wants to run for president in 2008 as the liberal anti-war alternative to New York Senator Hillary Clinton [D]. The censure effort, sure to fail in the Senate, could succeed among party liberals.

However, in his report, Garrett cropped out a portion of Lieberman's statement in which Lieberman stated that he believes the warrantless wiretapping program is illegal. From Lieberman's press conference:

QUESTION: Would you support censuring the president?

LIEBERMAN: Well, in fairness, I want to -- first off, I respect Senator Feingold, and I certainly respect him enough to take a look at his resolution of censure. It's a very unusual measure. I don't believe it's happened in more than a century and a half. But frankly, I'd prefer to spend our time figuring out ways to bring this very important program of surveillance of potential terrorists here in the United States under the law.

I've said before that I disagree with the Bush administration's legal judgment on this one. I don't believe that they have operated within the law as it exists. But this is a critically important program -- the prevention of terrorist acts here in the United States. And I don't know a person here in the Senate who is against this program. If this place was operating as it should, we'd all be figuring out how to sit down around a table and bring it within the law. And I hope that's what will happen. But I'll look at it and let you know how I feel after that.

QUESTION: Will you likely vote no? I just want to be clear on where you would be on this.

LIEBERMAN: I haven't even seen it. As I said, I don't think -- I don't want to see us get into -- look, Russ is a very thoughtful senator, a friend. He has a right to put before the Senate whatever he chooses, and I feel a responsibility to respect it and look at it. I'd prefer to see us solve the problem. And the problem is that we have a critically important national security program -- how do we listen to the conversations and read the e-mails of people we have reason to believe are terrorists, who want to strike the United States. I don't think the administration program has been conducted within the existing FISA law. We ought to figure out a way together to make sure that that's the way the program goes forward.

Posted In
Justice & Civil Liberties, Domestic Spying
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Major Garrett
Show/Publication
Special Report with Brit Hume
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