Right-Wing Media's Evidence-Free Attack That Obama Is Lying About Ground Troops In Libya

››› ››› JUSTIN BERRIER

Following the president's military action, the right-wing media launched an evidence-free attack that Obama is lying when he claims that the United States will not deploy ground troops in Libya. Media conservatives have baselessly speculated that special operative troops may be operating in Libya, despite acknowledging that publicly announcing the presence of such might endanger them.

Despite Lacking Evidence, Right-Wing Media Claim Obama Lying About Ground Troops In Libya

O'Reilly Guest: "Absolutely" True That Troops Are "On The Ground." On the March 24 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly asked guest Col. David Hunt (Ret.) if it was true that "special forces are already on the ground in Libya." Hunt responded "Yes, absolutely," adding that Obama is spreading "disinformation" about the presence of ground troops to protect "assets on the ground" and that "we don't talk about covert activity." From The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: In the impact segment tonight, not much new to report out of Libya other than Gadhafi's ground forces continue to be hammered by NATO war planes. Some Americans fear there will be boots on the ground in Libya.

The Obama administration says that's not going to happen, but what is happening on the ground may surprise you. Joining us now from Washington Lt. Colonel Tony Shaffer, a former Army Intelligence Officer and from Boston Colonel David Hunt, Fox News military analyst.

So we hear special forces are already on the ground in Libya. True, Colonel Hunt?

COLONEL DAVID HUNT, U.S. ARMY (RETIRED): Yes, absolutely. You've got British service been in there about three weeks ago and captured and released. The French GIGN have been in there and our special forces and our U.S. intelligence operatives and their assets.

We do not conduct operations like this, large scale air operations without people on the ground. They have been very successful, very good, not a lot of contact with the rebels because you don't know who to talk to.

But, yes, we have got Intel gathering, and rescue guys and special operations guys on the ground, have had them for about 12 days.

O'REILLY: Now, do you agree with that, Colonel Shaffer?

LT. COLONEL TONY SHAFFER, FORMER ARMY INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: Yes, I have heard from my sources -- I got a call from one of my key sources on Monday and that's exactly what's going on. Let's be really clear here.

You have got to have these individuals doing what Dave just said, especially when you are talking about trying to protect and the stated goal here, Bill, is humanitarian support.

So you don't want to have weapons hitting the wrong targets. So, Dave is very good on the fact that we have special operations guys sitting there with laser designators. Bill, you saw -

[...]

O'REILLY: Now, the Obama administration says flat out we don't have any boots on the ground there. We are not going to have them. Is that a lie, Colonel Hunt?

HUNT: Yes, it's disinformation. It's protecting guys whose assets on the ground. We don't talk about covert activity. Some the stuff I have been involved in both the Southeast Asia and the Balkans, you know, it's really protecting our guys.

O'REILLY: You were one of the guys on grounds in the Balkans, Colonel Hunt was, when we weren't supposed it have any guys on the ground, correct?

HUNT: Yes, and the reason it's not published want to protect the guys I was with. In this case, it was Seals and trying to do some Intel work -- without the bad guys knowing about it. It's the same issue here with Libya.

[Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 03/24/11 accessed via Nexis]

Doocy: "Sources Say There Are Already Troops On The Ground In Libya." On the March 25 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy claimed: "Meanwhile, a stunning revelation -- sources say there are troops on the ground in Libya. Will this spell more trouble for President Obama in the court of public opinion?" [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/25/11]

Doocy: "We Have Boots On the Ground" But "We're Not Going To Invade." Later on Fox & Friends, Doocy again claimed, "We have boots on the ground" in Libya but "we're not going to invade." Co-host Gretchen Carlson responded by saying that "most Americans would understand that we have secret, covert people there, and we don't want to blow their cover. But it's totally different when you're talking about what our long-term mission is there, and that remains unknown." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/25/11]

Carlson Speculates "Boots On The Ground" Would Cause Support For Action In Libya To "Change Dramatically." Later on Fox & Friends, Carlson asked:

CARLSON: Don't you think it changes the entire tone of this discussion with the American public, if, in fact, there's any inkling that we have boots on the ground? I mean, I do. I think it changes the whole -- those polls would change dramatically about whether or not Americans support this or not. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/25/11]

Fox Nation: "Are American Soldiers Already On The Ground In Libya?" On March 24, Fox News' blog Fox Nation linked to the O'Reilly segment under the headline "Are American Soldiers Already on the Ground in Libya?" From Fox Nation:

FN ground troops

Later, Fox Nation linked to the post by tweeting, "EXCLUSIVE: Obama Puts Boots On The Ground In Libya." From Fox Nation's Twitter feed:

FN Twitter Ground troops

[Fox Nation, 3/25/11; Twitter, 3/25/11]

Big Government: "Contrary To What You've Heard, We Do Have Troops On The Ground." In a March 25 post, the conservative blog Big Government claimed, "Contrary to what you've heard, we do have troops on the ground in our unconstitutional action in Libya." The post offered no evidence to support this statement. [Big Government, 3/25/11]

Accusation Follows Weeks Of Inconsistent And Baseless Attacks On Obama's Libya Policy

Right-Wing Media's Attacks On Obama Over Libya Marked By Inconsistency And Incoherence. As Media Matters has noted, the right-wing media's attacks on Obama over his actions in Libya have been marked by inconsistency and incoherence. Some right-wing media figures have gone so far as to accuse Obama of "essentially backing al-Qaeda" in his policy of protecting Libyan rebels. [Media Matters, 3/22/11, 3/22/11]

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