Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Snow Job...the lies of Tony Snow

Ok, ok, Josh, not ALL the lies, just a few recent ones.

Media Matters for America documented a number of Snow's false or misleading claims when it was reported that he was on the shortlist. Following are numerous additional claims advanced by Snow in print and on the air.

Warrantless domestic surveillance

  • Suggested Democrats objected to Bush's warrantless spying because they think the "government should not be able to listen to Al Qaeda": While speaking to Fox News political analyst Bob Beckel, Snow suggested that "Democratic opposition" to the warrantless domestic surveillance program arose from the belief that "the government should not be able to listen to Al Qaeda people talking to American citizens." Further, Snow claimed that the lack of additional domestic terrorist attacks was "a sign of [the program's] success." As Media Matters has noted, this false claim was first made by White House senior adviser Karl Rove during an address to the Republican National Committee at its winter meeting and was quickly spread as a talking point by numerous conservatives. But, contrary to Rove and Snow's assertion, no national Democratic figure -- member of the Democratic leadership in Congress, Democratic governor, or Democratic Party official -- has said that the United States should not be intercepting calls suspected to involve Al Qaeda. Moreover, Snow's claims about the program's effectiveness are not supported by the evidence.
  • Claimed that Carter and Bush both authorized warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens: Snow asserted that former President Jimmy Carter had "signed an executive order that authorized the attorney general to approve electronic surveillance to acquire foreign intelligence information." Snow went on to claim that this represented "exactly what the president is doing." But Snow ignored a crucial difference: Carter, unlike Bush, prohibited such surveillance of U.S. citizens. Indeed, Carter's order specifically required the attorney general to certify that the surveillance will not contain "the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party." [Fox News' Weekend Live, 12/24/05]
  • Claimed that the FISA probable cause standard kept the FBI from inspecting Moussaoui's laptop: Snow said that FBI agents in possession of Zacarias Moussaoui's laptop "decided not to go ahead and look at the contents because they ... had no definite proof that the guy was a terrorist" and, therefore, couldn't meet the probable cause standard necessary for a warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). But Snow ignored the bipartisan finding by the Senate Judiciary Committee that the investigators had possessed sufficient evidence but that FBI attorneys had applied a too-stringent standard for establishing probable, preventing the investigators from petitioning the court for authorization. [Fox News' Weekend Live, 12/24/05]
  • Claimed that 2002 FISA review court opinion allowed for warrantless domestic surveillance: Snow stated that a 2002 opinion (In re: Sealed Case No. 02-001) by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review "says the president's inherent authority allows him" to eavesdrop on the international communications of U.S. residents. But the claim misrepresents the 2002 decision, in which the court said only that the president has inherent authority to conduct foreign intelligence surveillance without a warrant. The court did not rule on the question of whether a president has the constitutional authority to spy on people in the United States without a warrant, in apparent violation of FISA.

CIA leak investigation

  • Falsely claimed that Wilson said Cheney had sent him to Niger: Snow claimed in his July 15, 2005, column that former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV said he "had been dispatched by [Vice President] Dick Cheney to conduct a secret mission to Niger." In fact, Wilson never claimed that Cheney sent him on the trip. To the contrary, he wrote in his July 6, 2003, op-ed in The New York Times that the CIA requested he go on the mission "so they could provide a response" to questions raised by Cheney regarding allegations that Iraq had attempted to purchase uranium from the African country.
  • Claimed that Intel Committee "discovered" that Plame recommended Wilson for the Niger mission: In his July 15, 2005, column, Snow further claimed that the Senate Intelligence Committee, in its 2004 "Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq," "discovered that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, did indeed recommend him for the trip" to Niger. But the committee did not officially conclude that she had been responsible for Wilson's assignment. Media Matters previously noted that Snow had falsely asserted that Wilson said his wife "wasn't covert for six years" before she was exposed as a CIA operative by syndicated columnist Robert Novak.


  • Falsely accused Clinton of rejecting bin Laden offer: Snow advanced the discredited claim that Sudan had offered to "hand over" Osama bin Laden to the United States in the 1990s, but that the Clinton administration responded, "Nah, don't want to do it." But this claim is derived from an August 11, 2002, article on right-wing news website NewsMax that distorted a speech Clinton made in 2002. Indeed, the bipartisan 9-11 Commission found (page 3) "no reliable evidence to support" the claim that Sudan offered bin Laden to the United States and determined that, based on Clinton's testimony, in "wrongly recounting a number of press stories he had read," Clinton had "misspoken" in his 2002 speech. [Fox News' Weekend Live, 2/25/06]
  • Claimed botched CIA attack on Ayman Al-Zawahiri "was a success": Snow claimed the January 13 CIA drone attack in western Pakistan targeting top Al Qaeda official al-Zawahiri "was a success." Further, Snow and guest Richard Miniter both claimed the attack "knocked off four to five key Al Qaeda" figures. In fact, the strike reportedly killed at least 18 civilians, sparking widespread Pakistani condemnation and protests. Initially, U.S. officials claimed that, at minimum, some high level Al Qaeda officials were among those killed in the attacks, but this claim was never officially confirmed. A January 20 Financial Times report (subscription required) noted: "Pakistani intelligence official confirmed the identities [of alleged Al Qaeda officals] were made on the basis of intelligence information and not 'facts gathered through DNA tests or any other means.' " [Fox News' Weekend Live, 1/21/06]
  • Deemed Gitmo "the most humane prisoner-of-war facility in history": In a June 15, 2005, column, Snow wrote that the Pentagon's military detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, "may be the most humane prisoner-of-war facility in history."


  • Called immigrants rights protestors "idiots": In response to Republican strategist Linda Chavez's claim that the flying of Mexican flags by Mexican-Americans at a 1994 protest led to the passage of California's controversial Proposition 187, Snow said, "So, to quote the famous movie Napoleon Dynamite --'idiots.' " [Fox News' Weekend Live, 4/1/06]


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