O'Reilly treated Radio Factor listeners to a cornucopia of misinformation about intelligence, Iraq, terrorism

››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN

On his nationally syndicated radio show, Bill O'Reilly treated viewers to an assortment of misinformation concerning the Iraq war and terrorism.

During the May 8 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Bill O'Reilly treated viewers to an assortment of misinformation concerning the Iraq war and terrorism. O'Reilly falsely claimed former CIA analyst Mary McCarthy was "accused of ... leaking" the existence of the National Security Agency (NSA) warrantless domestic spying program; suggested there was no domestic element to the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance program, stating it involved only "foreign calls" and "nothing domestic"; alleged that House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) "want[s] us to lose in Iraq" and "want[s] there to be chaos in Afghanistan"; and deceptively edited an exchange between retired CIA analyst Ray McGovern and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld while accusing the media of being "derelict" for failing to note that McGovern belongs to a group that opposes Bush's policies.

  • McCarthy

O'Reilly claimed that McCarthy was "accused of, you know, leaking the CIA prisons in Eastern Europe [to The Washington Post] and then the NSA leak [to The New York Times] and all of that." McCarthy was dismissed on April 21 for allegedly disclosing classified information to two different news reporters. But, as Media Matters for America has repeatedly noted, the CIA has not accused McCarthy of leaking information about the prisons and has not explicitly connected her to the Post's November 2 report regarding the CIA's alleged secret detention operations. McCarthy has also denied being the source for the Post's CIA secret prison story. Further, as Media Matters noted the last time O'Reilly made the accusation, no official has publicly accused McCarthy of being the source for any New York Times story, including its December 2005 Pulitzer Prize-winning report exposing the NSA's warrantless wiretapping.

  • The NSA's warrantless spying

O'Reilly suggested -- contrary to the Bush administration's own acknowledgement -- there was no domestic component to the NSA program, stating the NSA tapped only "foreign calls" and "nothing domestic." In fact, even though the Bush administration disputes that the calls monitored byt the NSA are "domestic," the administration has admitted that the agency monitors certain calls "coming into or going out of the United States." The Bush administration asserts that the program monitors only domestic communications in which one actor is in a foreign country and has ties to terrorism.

  • Pelosi

Commenting on Pelosi's concerns over Air Force Gen. Michael V. Hayden, who was recently appointed to replace Porter Goss as CIA director, O'Reilly asserted that "all Pelosi wants is someone who hates Bush so there could be more leaks to embarrass Bush and make his job harder." O'Reilly continued: "Nancy Pelosi and her acolytes, people who like her, they want us to lose in Iraq. They want there to be chaos in Afghanistan. They want this. They're rooting against their own country."

  • McGovern-Rumsfeld exchange

After cropping the exchange between McGovern and Rumsfeld, in which McGovern confronted Rumsfeld on the Defense secretary's previous claims about Iraq's purported weapons of mass destruction and ties to Al Qaeda, O'Reilly complained that the press didn't provide the full context of the exchange because it failed to identify McGovern as "a far-left guy" associated with the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. O'Reilly declared:

O'REILLY: So everybody should know that. And then we listen to what he has to say and you listen to what Rumsfeld what has to say. That's why we played the clip. Then you make up your own mind. But full disclosure is part of making a responsible decision.

Yet, as he was claiming to give his audience the "full disclosure" he found lacking in other media outlets, O'Reilly edited the Rumsfeld-McGovern exchange while giving his listeners no indication that the audio had been edited. O'Reilly aired the contentious questions and answers until Rumsfeld, defending prior attempts to link Al Qaeda to Iraq, told McGovern that Jordanian-born terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi "was in Baghdad during the prewar period. That is a fact." O'Reilly did not air McGovern's response that Zarqawi "was in the north of Iraq in a place where Saddam Hussein had no rule" and that he went to Baghdad only "when he needed to go to the hospital":

McGOVERN: We're talking about lies, and your allegation that there was "bulletproof" evidence of ties between Al Qaeda and Iraq. Was that a lie or were you misled?

RUMSFELD: Zarqawi was in Baghdad during the prewar period. That is a fact.

McGOVERN: Zarqawi? He was in the north of Iraq in a place where Saddam Hussein had no rule. That's where he was.

RUMSFELD: He was also in Baghdad.

McGOVERN: Yeah, when he needed to go to the hospital. Come on, these people aren't idiots. They know the story.

An October 5, 2005, Knight Ridder article noted that "[t]here's no dispute that al-Zarqawi spent time in Iraq before the U.S. invasion, but virtually all that time was in a portion of northeastern Iraq that wasn't under Saddam's control." The Washington Post reported on Zarqawi's hospitalization in Baghdad in an October 21, 2004, article:

In 2002, Bush administration officials said, Zarqawi went to Baghdad to have one leg amputated after having been wounded by a U.S. bombing attack. That account has turned out to be wrong, according to U.S. intelligence officials who have interrogated Zarqawi associates.

"It was for another ailment, but not his leg," one intelligence official said yesterday. "We are still learning about him," this official added.

From the May 8 broadcast of Westwood One's The Radio Factor:

O'REILLY: Anyway, the reason Goss got fired was because of all the leaks. Was leaks all over the place. Because there are some people within CIA who don't like the Bush administration. Who are tied to the old Tenet -- when George Tenet was CIA director. They, they were hired by him. And because Tenet got embarrassed, you know, the Bush people threw him overboard on the 9-11 collapse of intelligence there and then the bad intelligence in Iraq. These people who like Tenet are trying to undermine the Bush administration. And you saw that with all the leaks.

This woman, Mary McCarthy, is accused of, you know, leaking the CIA prisons in Eastern Europe and then the NSA leak and all of that. So the Bush administration said, "Look, we can't have these leaks." I mean, you can't run, fight a war with all of our top-secret agents leaking the press. And the press, of course, hates Bush. You can't have it. You -- everybody would understand that.

[...]

O'REILLY: All right. So, you, you know. General -- Admiral Stansfield Turner was a CIA chief under Jimmy Carter. Of course Pelosi doesn't even know that. I mean, all Pelosi wants is someone who hates Bush so there could be more leaks to embarrass Bush and make his job harder.

You know, at this point, I'm gonna say that Nancy Pelosi and her acolytes, people who like her, they want us to lose in Iraq. They want there to be chaos in Afghanistan. They want this. They're rooting against their own country. I believe that. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm wrong. But I watch these people every day, and I never see anything out of them as far as protecting the American people ever.

[...]

CALLER: Hello. I think the border -- I'm all with you on the border deal. As an over-the-road truck driver, I've listened entirely to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings about the NSA wiretaps, and I think that even prior to 9-11, George Bush had said that he wanted to restore the presidential power to what it had been prior to the Nixon administration. And I think that he's completely within his Article 2 rights to pursue these wiretaps. And the reason why people are against Hayden isn't because of his qualifications, it's because he was in charge of the NSA during --

O'REILLY: Yeah, and because he's a Bush crony. Because the, you know, he likes Bush, Bush likes him. Sure. That's the opposition. I -- it'll be interesting. Look, the NSA wiretap thing is a winner for the Bush administration. They know it's a winner. They know most people feel the way you do, [caller]. Now, what's the big deal? You're taping foreign calls. You know, it's nothing domestic. So we want to be protected, and that looks like it's designed to protect us. So it's a winner for the Bush administration. All the polls say that. Congress just doesn't want to get into this fight. The Democrats know it's a loser. It just makes them look soft on terror.

So that's the truth of the matter. But I do believe that the Bush administration could've gotten the wiretap warrants 72 hours after the fact, because the court is set up to do that. And the reason that the Bush administration did not do it is their arrogance. And I, I believe that. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's what I believe.

[...]

O'REILLY: OK. We're talking about the totalitarian left. Now, the reason that these guys get away with this is that the media pretty much gives them a pass. And here's the best example I've seen in years about this. Remember last week that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld went down to Atlanta and gave a talk. All right. And he was confronted by a guy named Raymond McGovern, who used to work at the CIA. Roll the tape:

[begin audio clip]

McGOVERN: Why did you lie to get us into a war that was not necessary and has caused these kinds of casualties? Why?

RUMSFELD: Well, first of all, I, I haven't lied. I did not lie then. Colin Powell didn't lie. He spent weeks and weeks with the Central Intelligence Agency people and prepared a presentation that I know he believed was accurate. And he presented that to the United Nations. The president spent weeks and weeks with the Central Intelligence people and he went to the American people and made a presentation. I'm not in the intelligence business.

They gave the world their honest opinion. It appears that there were not weapons of mass destruction there.

McGOVERN: You said you know where they were.

RUMSFELD: I did not. I said I knew where suspect sites were and we were --

McGOVERN: You said, you said you knew where they were near Tikrit, near Baghdad, and northeast, south and west of there. Those are your words.

RUMSFELD: My words, my words were that -- no, no, no, wait a minute, wait a minute, let him stay one second, just a second.

McGOVERN: This is America, huh?

RUMSFELD: You're getting plenty of play, sir.

McGOVERN: I'd just like an honest answer.

RUMSFELD: I'm giving it to you.

McGOVERN: We're talking about lies and your, your allegation that there was bulletproof evidence of ties between Al Qaeda and Iraq. Was that a lie or were your misled?

RUMSFELD: Zarqawi was in Baghdad during the pre-war period.

[end audio clip]

O'REILLY: All right. Now, who is this guy Raymond McGovern? Well, according to the media reports, and I was -- right away, we didn't do this story per se on The Factor radio or TV. But on CNN, Fox News, and in the newspapers, he was identified as a former CIA employee, former CIA agent. But who he is really is one of the organizers of a group called the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, a group that's called for the resignation of Dick Cheney and the impeachment of President Bush. He's a far-left guy, but he wasn't identified as such. And even Fox News was derelict in doing that. All right.

[...]

O'REILLY: Yeah, I, I mean I -- let's get that online. Let's, let's get that on billoreilly.com. Look, I understand the frustration that Americans have because you guys can't quiz them, but I'm your voice. And I don't care whether this CIA guy, former CIA guy, stood up and, and challenged Rumsfeld. I -- that's fine with me. I just think everybody should know who he is and where he's coming from. All right? That he's already convicted Rumsfeld and Cheney and Bush of war crimes. In his mind, they're already guilty.

So everybody should know that. And then we listen to what he has to say and you listen to what Rumsfeld what has to say. That's why we played the clip. Then you make up your own mind. But full disclosure is part of making a responsible decision.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, Terrorism, War in Iraq
Network/Outlet
Westwood One
Person
Bill O'Reilly
Show/Publication
The Radio Factor
Stories/Interests
Attacks on Progressives, Propaganda/Noise Machine
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