On MSNBC's Countdown, Keith Olbermann gave Rush Limbaugh the show's "Worst Person in the World" award for falsely claiming that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court denied the FBI a warrant to access the laptop computer of Zacarias Moussaoui -- the alleged "20th hijacker" in the September 11, 2001, terrorist plot -- prior to the attacks.
On the January 6 edition of MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, host Keith Olbermann gave nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh the show's "Worst Person in the World" award for falsely claiming on the January 4 broadcast of his radio show that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court denied the FBI a warrant to access the laptop computer of Zacarias Moussaoui -- the alleged "20th hijacker" in the September 11, 2001, terrorist plot -- immediately prior to the attacks. Media Matters for America had documented Limbaugh's falsehood earlier that day.
During the January 4 broadcast on his nationally syndicated radio show, Limbaugh falsely claimed that the FBI, which was in possession of Moussaoui's laptop, "wanted to get into it [Moussaoui's laptop], wanted to connect the dots" but that a FISA court "[j]udge wouldn't let them do it." In fact, as Media Matters noted and as Olbermann explained on his January 6 broadcast, it was the FBI -- not the FISA court -- that determined the evidence against Moussaoui did not meet FISA standards for obtaining a warrant. A February 2003 Senate Judiciary Committee report, compiled by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Charles Grassley (R-IA), and Arlen Specter (R-PA), found that the FBI's evidence against Moussaoui was, in fact, sufficient under the act but that the FBI attorneys handling the case employed an "unnecessarily high standard" for probable cause that exceeded FISA's own standard.
In presenting Limbaugh with the "Worst Person in the World" honors, Olbermann stated: "But of course, that's not the kind of story Rush Limbaugh wants you to know, so he lied about it, told it backwards." Olbermann asserted that this type of reporting is "why his [Limbaugh's] listeners live in ignorance."
From the January 6 broadcast of MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann:
OLBERMANN: But tonight's winner: the indescribable Rush Limbaugh. He has now defended the president bypassing the foreign intelligence surveillance courts to authorize those NSA wiretaps by explaining to his audience that it was one of those FISA court judges who wouldn't let the FBI examine the laptop of the so-called 21st hijacker [sic], Zacarias Moussaoui, which perhaps might have allowed them to discover the 9-11 plot in the summer of 2001. Of course, in fact, the FBI never even went to the court in that case; they never even asked a judge to let it read Moussaoui's computer. The FBI's own lawyers decided the bureau did not have the right to examine the computer. A later investigation suggested the FBI lawyers were wrong, and if they'd only gone to one of the FISA judges, the judge would have granted access to Moussaoui's computer. But of course, that's not the kind of story Rush Limbaugh wants you to know, so he lied about it, told it backwards. Which is why his listeners live in ignorance and why Rush Limbaugh is once again today's Worst Person in the World.