Fox News figures took part in a press conference today announcing a "citizen's commission" to investigate the 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi. In the process they promoted outlandish conspiracies about the incident while re-hashing false stories that have been investigated and debunked.
The event was organized by Accuracy in Media (AIM), a fringe conservative group responsible for promoting many conspiracy theories over the years. Roger Aronoff, AIM's editor, led the event.
In attendance were Admiral James Lyons (Ret.), General Thomas McInerney (Ret.) and former CIA officer Wayne Simmons. McInerney is a Fox News military analyst, while Simmons is a frequent guest on Fox. Lyons regularly writes opinion columns for the Washington Times.
Fox News suggested that an attack in Syria might have involved chemical weapons from Iraq, pushing a conspiracy theory that Saddam Hussein hid WMD in other countries prior to the Iraq war. Fox made a similar claim just two days ago.
On March 19, the Syrian government and Syrian rebels accused each other of launching a chemical weapon attack within the country. The United States government has said there is no confirmation that such a strike occurred, but the United Nations announced on March 21 that it will investigate the accusations that chemical weapons were used.
On the March 22 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade asked Fox News military analyst and birther Thomas McInerney: "What are the chances of the return address on these chemicals being from Iraq?" McInerney said that this was conjecture but that there was still a high probability of that being the case, explaining: "[W]e do know prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom that there was a lot of vehicles crossing the border into Syria ... I think that it would be a very high probability if we could get into those bunkers, that they would have Iraqi signatures on them."
The claim that Iraq transferred WMD to other countries before the U.S.-led invasion is not supported by evidence.
In 2004, the CIA's Iraq Survey Group (ISG) released a report that found that Iraq "ended the nuclear program in 1991 following the Gulf war. ISG found no evidence to suggest concerted efforts to restart the program." The report further stated, "While a small number of old, abandoned chemical munitions have been discovered, ISG judges that Iraq unilaterally destroyed its undeclared chemical weapons stockpile in 1991."
The ISG also concluded that after 1995, Iraq "abandoned its existing [biological warfare] program in the belief that it constituted a potential embarrassment, whose discovery would undercut Baghdad's ability to reach its overarching goal of obtaining relief from UN sanctions." The report stated that Iraq appeared to have destroyed its undeclared stocks of biological warfare-related weapons in 1991 and 1992.
A 2005 Associated Press report stated that intelligence officials said they found no evidence "indicating that WMD or significant amounts of components and equipment were transferred from Iraq to neighboring Syria, Jordan or elsewhere." The AP report continued:
The Iraq Survey Group's chief, Charles Duelfer, is expected to submit the final installments of his report in February. A small number of the organization's experts will remain on the job in case new intelligence on Iraqi WMD is unearthed.
But the officials familiar with the search say U.S. authorities have found no evidence that former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein transferred WMD or related equipment out of Iraq.
Last week, a congressional official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said suggestions that weapons or components were sent from Iraq were based on speculation stemming from uncorroborated information.
On the March 20 edition of America's Newsroom, Fox News' Oliver North made a similar claim of the Iraq war, saying: "We got rid of a brutal despot who used chemical and biological weapons against his own people. Weapons of mass destruction that he probably exported to Sudan before we got there."
Fox News military analysts, retired Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney and retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, today dismissed recently published photos of soldiers posing with Afghan corpses as an incident that "did not even rise to the level of a fraternity prank," and "young people blowing off testosterone," as Peters put it. Peters and McInerney also attacked the Los Angeles Times, the newspaper that first published the photos, and Peters went after the anonymous soldier who reportedly provided the photos, suggesting the soldier was "a misfit who couldn't measure up to the very high standards of the 82nd Airborne."
The photos have been widely condemned by the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and the senior allied commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen. Army spokesman Col. Tomas W. Collins was quoted as saying: "[T]hese photos are probably a manifestation of the soldiers' relief that this insurgent no longer posed a threat to them or their fellow soldiers. That cannot excuse what they did. We are the United States Army, and the world rightly has very high expectations that our soldiers will do what's right. Clearly, that didn't happen in this case." Afghan President Hamid Karzai has called the photos "inhumane and provocative."
Appearing on Fox News' America Live to talk about the controversy the photos have generated, Peters said that "the LA Times editors are liars" and that they published the photos "because their paper is on the rocks and they're trying to push up circulation." He added: "I think there really is maybe a scandal out there at the LA Times." McInerney added that the Times "is the problem" and "they should be condemned."
Peters also took the opportunity to attack the unnamed soldier, saying: "If it is a soldier, why wait two years to enforce good order and discipline? Was the soldier really in the unit? Was the soldier present at any of these events? Was the soldier a misfit who couldn't measure up to the very high standards of the 82nd Airborne?"
As Fox aggressively promotes Rep. Peter King's controversial hearings on Muslim radicalization, Media Matters looks at the long history of anti-Muslim rhetoric on Fox and from Fox personalities.
In an affidavit reported last night by birther site WorldNetDaily, Thomas McInerney, a retired lieutenant general who now serves as a Fox News military analyst, says that he believes there are "widespread and legitimate concerns that the President is constitutionally ineligible to hold office," and expresses support for an Army officer who is currently awaiting a court-martial for refusing to obey orders from his commanding officers "until the president produces his original birth certificate."
McInerney has been interviewed on Fox News at least four times in the last year, most recently on the August 29 edition of Fox News' America's News HQ. During that time, he has appeared in taped reports on five editions of Fox News' premiere "news" program, Special Report.* He has also written occasional columns for FoxNews.com's Fox Forum. Between January 1, 2002, and May 13, 2008, McInerney made 144 Fox News appearances.
McInerney submitted his affidavit in support of a request for discovery from attorneys for Lieutenant Colonel Terrence Lakin seeking Obama's "birth records." On August 5, the Associated Press reported that Lakin had been "charged with disobeying orders after failing to show up for duty in Afghanistan and questioning whether President Barack Obama has the right to order him there."
McInerney writes that if Obama is constitutionally ineligible, "that creates a break in the chain of command of such magnitude that its significance can scarcely be imagined." Citing the importance of a "unified chain of command" in his own experience commanding nuclear-equipped forces, the Fox analyst claims that "[t]oday, because of the widespread and legitimate concerns that the President is constitutionally ineligible to hold office, I fear what would happen should such a crisis occur today."
McInerney goes on to praise Lakin, writing that he "has acted exactly as proper training dictates. That training mandates that he determine in his own conscience that an order is legal before obeying it." He also credits Lakin for "demonstrating the courage of his convictions and his bravery" by "invit[ing]" a court martial.
The Fox News military analyst concludes:
For the foregoing reasons, it is my opinion that LTC Lakin's request for discovery relating to the President's birth record in Hawaii is absolutely essential to determining not merely his guilt or innocence but to reassuring all military personnel once and for all for this President whether his service as Commander in Chief is Constitutionally proper. He is the one single person in the Chain of Command that the Constitution demands proof of natural born citizenship. This determination is fundamental to our Republic, where civilian control over the military is the rule. According to the Constitution, the Commander is Chief must now, in the face of serious -- and widely-held -- concerns that he is ineligible, either voluntarily establish his eligibility by authorizing release of his birth records or this court must authorize their discovery. The invasion of his privacy is utterly trivial compared to the issues at stake here. Our military MUST have confidence their Commander in Chief lawfully holds his office and absent which confidence grievous consequences may ensue.
Of course, President Obama has released his birth certificate, which shows that he was born in Hawaii and is constitutionally eligible to be president. Does Fox News really want to keep someone so detached from reality that they doubt Obama's eligibility on their payroll? Is he really the one they want serving as their military analyst?
If so, that tells us even more about Fox News than we just learned about Thomas McInerney.
Conservative media figures have politicized the failed Christmas Day terrorist attack to criticize President Obama's handling of national security matters. But their assertions about Obama's and former President Bush's handling of terrorism and national security are replete with myths and falsehoods.
In the wake of the Christmas Day attempt to detonate a bomb on a Northwest Airlines flight, numerous Fox News hosts, contributors, and guests have called for profiling of Muslims by airport security personnel. But several national security experts have termed such policies ineffective, with Bush administration secretary of homeland security Michael Chertoff stating that "relying on preconceptions or stereotypes is actually kind of misleading and, arguably, dangerous."
From the July 10 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
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Reporting on Robert Gates' decision to end production of F-22 fighter jets, The Washington Times quoted Tom McInerney's claim that Gates "has decimated the Air Force for the future" without noting that McInerney has reportedly served as a consultant to Northrop Grumman, a major subcontractor on the F-22.
Fox News military analyst Tom McInerney criticized the Obama administration's decision to procure only four more F-22 fighters, but at no point was it disclosed during his appearance that McInerney has served as a consultant for Northrop Grumman Corp., a major subcontractor on the F-22.