Right wing runs wild with Fox News and CBN reports on dubious Fort Jackson "terror" plot

››› ››› JOCELYN FONG

Right-wing media seized on Fox News and Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) reports and claimed that in December "five Muslim soldiers" were "arrested for trying to poison the food supply at Fort Jackson," often while fearmongering about a "jihadist" plot against the base or speculating that the delay in reporting on the allegations was due to a "Fort Jackson cover-up." The right wing has made these claims despite the fact that military officials have said "there is currently no credible evidence to substantiate the allegations."

Fort Jackson officials said, "[T]here is currently no credible evidence to substantiate the allegations"

Fort Jackson spokesman: "Two months of investigation, there has been no credible evidence to support the allegations." A February 18 press release from the Fort Jackson Public Affairs Office states:

In December 2009, five Soldiers were investigated for potential verbal threats against fellow Soldiers. While the investigation continues there is currently no credible evidence to substantiate the allegations. At no time was there any danger to the Fort Jackson community.

ArmyTimes reported on February 19 that Fort Jackson spokesman Patrick Jones said, "Two months of investigation, there has been no credible evidence to support the allegations."

Army spokesman Garver: "[T]hey have not found any credible information to substantiate the allegations." The Associated Press reported on February 18 that "[t]he Army has been investigating allegations that soldiers' food at its largest basic training base in South Carolina was being poisoned, but no credible information to support the allegations has been found." The article noted that Army spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Garver said, "I can say that, according to Criminal Investigation Division spokespersons, they have not found any credible information to substantiate the allegations."

Fox News: CID spokesman said "there is no credible evidence to support the allegations." Fox News' Catherine Herridge stated on the February 18 edition of Fox News' Special Report that Criminal Investigation Division spokesman Chris Grey "says there is no credible information to support the allegations, but their work continues." FoxNews.com also reported Grey's statement.

Pentagon spokesman "said he is unaware of any arrests made." The Christian Broadcasting Network reported that five Muslim suspects were "arrested," a claim repeated by Michelle Malkin, Jim Hoft, the New York Post, Atlas Shrugs, Jihad Watch, Fox Nation, and the Drudge Report. However, AP reported that Garver "said he is unaware of any arrests made in the investigation." The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder reported that "the Army says it's not true. No one has been arrested. The National Security Council was not aware of any arrests, a spokesperson said." The ArmyTimes article noted that "[t]he soldiers being investigated are not being detained, Jones said."

Fort Jackson said the investigation was into "potential verbal threats." In its February 18 press release, the Fort Jackson Public Affairs Office stated that the investigation was focused on "potential verbal threats against fellow Soldiers" and that "[a]t no time was there any danger to the Fort Jackson community." A February 19 AP report further noted that "Army spokeswoman Julia Simpkins said Friday no soldiers were ever in danger at the South Carolina base" and "[s]he said the investigation involved potentially threatening comments toward fellow soldiers."

Fox News' subsequent report notes "it doesn't appear there was ever any actual danger to the food supply." In a February 19 report on Fox News' America's Newsroom, correspondent Steve Centanni stated that "it doesn't appear there was ever any actual danger to the food supply at Fort Jackson, but there was talk about such a threat, and that's what the Criminal Investigation Division in the Army is looking into." Centanni further stated, "The fact that the FBI is not actively investigating is a fair indication it's not any kind of extremist plot." However, co-host Martha MacCallum and Centanni did not note that officials have found "no credible evidence to substantiate the allegations."

Despite lack of "credible evidence," right-wing media run with story pushed by Fox News, CBN

Fox News reported: "Army is now investigating allegations" that soldiers "deliberately tried to poison the food supply" at Fort Jackson, and a source says "the soldiers may be Muslim." Shortly after 6 p.m. on February 18, Bret Baier, host of Fox News' Special Report, stated that "[t]he Army is now investigating allegations that some soldiers at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, have deliberately tried to poison the food supply at that facility." Herridge reported that "a military source tells Fox that they believe the soldiers may be Muslim, but CID would not confirm or comment" and that a CID spokesman "says there is no credible information to support the allegations" so far. Herridge further reported, "And just within the last half hour, two sources at Fort Jackson have told Fox that five individuals were detained and they were part of an Arabic translation program." Herridge subsequently offered a similar report during The Fox Report with Shepard Smith.

Special Report aired the following on-screen text:

ftjacksonone

CBN's Stakelbeck: "[F]ive Muslim soldiers" were "arrested" and "may have been in contact" with Muslims "that traveled to Pakistan to wage jihad against U.S. troops in December" according to "a source." On February 18, CBN blogger Erick Stakelbeck wrote in a 6:17 p.m. post that "CBN News has learned exclusively that five Muslim soldiers at Fort Jackson in South Carolina were arrested just before Christmas" and that "[t]he men are suspected of trying to poison the food supply." Stakelbeck added:

A source with intimate knowledge of the investigation, which is ongoing, told CBN News investigators suspect the "Fort Jackson Five" may have been in contact with the group of five Washington, D.C., area Muslims that traveled to Pakistan to wage jihad against U.S. troops in December. That group was arrested by Pakistani authorities, also just before Christmas.

Coming as it does on the heels of November's Fort Hood jihadist massacre, this news could have major implications.

Stay tuned to this blog for more details.

Malkin: "Who are the 'Fort Jackson Five'? On February 18, Malkin linked to CBN's "exclusive on a disturbing news development at Fort Jackson":

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Jim Hoft: "5 Muslim Soldiers Arrested"; why "are [we] just hearing about this now?" Quoting from CBN, Gateway Pundit blogger Jim Hoft stated on February 18, "5 Muslim Soldiers Arrested at Fort Jackson For Trying to Poison Food Supply." Hoft wrote, "I'm sure it was just a 'tragic event' and not an act of terrorism (As Obama would put it)" and forwarded CBN's statement that a source said the soldiers "may have been in contact" with Muslims "that traveled to Pakistan to wage jihad against U.S. troops in December." Hoft added: "Exit question: If they were caught in early December so why are [we] just hearing about this now?"

NY Post: "Five Muslim soldiers arrested over Fort Jackson poison probe." Citing CBN and Fox News, the New York Post reported on February 18 at 8:36 p.m. that "[f]ive individuals were arrested amid a probe into food poisoning at Fort Jackson" and "a military source told Fox News the suspects were Muslims." The Post article further forwarded CBN's assertion that a source "said they may have been in contact with five Washington, DC Muslims, who were arrested in December after authorities uncovered their plans to travel to Pakistan to wage jihad against the U.S." The article, titled, "Five Muslim soldiers arrested over Fort Jackson poison probe: report," noted that the CID spokesman said "there is no credible information to support the allegations." The New York Post again reported on the story on February 19, stating, "Arab 'plot' eyed at SC Army base."

Atlas Shrugs: Fort Jackson story "more terrible proof" of a coverup of the Muslim infiltration of our government. In a February 18 Atlas Shrugs post, titled, "Five Muslim Soldiers Arrested for Trying to Poison the Food Supply at Fort Jackson," Pamela Gellar wrote: "Jihad: The Political Third Rail- what they're not telling. Here's more terrible proof. This happened at the same time as the Christmas balls bomber - why are we hearing about it now?" Jihad: The Political Third Rail is a CPAC session co-sponsored by Gellar, which purportedly seeks "to educate Americans about the Muslim Brotherhood's infiltration at the highest levels of the U.S. government, as well as its war on free speech: its attempt to silence and discredit those who speak up against the jihad and Sharia encroachment in the West."

Jihad Watch: "They were arrested just before Christmas, but we are only learning about it now. ... Was this yet another coverup?" A February 18 Jihad Watch post stated, "Five Muslim soldiers arrested at Fort Jackson for trying to poison the food supply." Jihad Watch quoted from CBN and added, "They were arrested just before Christmas, but we are only learning about it now, almost two months later. Why the long delay? Was this yet another coverup? Who ordered it, and why?"

Fox Nation: "Five Army Translators Arrested in Alleged Fort Jackson Poison Plot." Fox Nation linked to CBN on February 19:

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Fox & Friends hypes allegations while ignoring that officials said "there is currently no credible evidence to substantiate the allegations." During the February 19 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson reported that "[t]he U.S. Army is investigating allegations that soldiers tried to poison the food supply at South Carolina's Fort Jackson" but did not note that Fort Jackson's Public Affairs Office said that "there is currently no credible evidence to substantiate the allegations. At no time was there any danger to the Fort Jackson community." From Fox & Friends:

CARLSON: The U.S. Army is investigating allegations that soldiers tried to poison the food supply at South Carolina's Fort Jackson. Sources say five suspects who were part of an Arabic translation program were taken into custody in December. An Army spokesperson tells Fox the investigation started two months ago, and the military is taking the claims very seriously.

Drudge Report: "Five Muslim Soldiers Arrested at Fort Jackson." Linking to Fox News and CBN, the Drudge Report posted the following links on February 19:

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Commentary magazine: "Was There a Fort Jackson Cover-Up?" Jennifer Rubin wrote in a February 19 post for Commentary:

[H]ad the Fort Jackson incident come to light before release of the Fort Hood review, it would have been very difficult to give such short shrift to the jihadist motivation of Major Nadal Hasan. Nor would it be possible for the arrest of five Muslim individuals accused of poisoning fellow soldiers to have gone unnoticed at the "highest levels" of the Department of Defense. The only rational conclusion is that the Army worked furiously to keep the Ford Jackson incident under the media radar and to proceed with the Fort Hood whitewash.

Wash. Examiner: "Did the Defense Department try and whitewash South Carolina terror attack?" In a February 19 Washington Examiner post, Mark Hemingway quoted from Rubin's post, stating, "Rubin asks some pertinent questions about the alleged poisoning by five Muslim soldiers at a South Carolina military base." Hemingway's post was titled, "Did the Defense Department try and whitewash South Carolina terror attack?"

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