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Sean Hannity Distorts NIE While Complaining About Liberal Media Distortions

Reported by Ellen - September 28, 2006 -

Sean Hannity was full of phony-baloney Hanctimony during last night’s Hannity & Colmes (9/27/06) over what he called the “cherry-picked” leaks by the “liberal media” from the National Intelligence Estimate indicating that the invasion of Iraq has made the US more vulnerable to attacks. Moments later, Hannity was the one doing the cherry-picking as he took excerpts out of context in an effort to distort the NIE’s findings that terrorism has increased since the US invasion. With video.

The sole guest was Hannity’s henchman in truth-twisting, convicted liar Oliver North. The previous night, it was toe-sucking Dick Morris on the attack against Bill Clinton’s efforts against terrorism despite the fact that Morris revealed that he was unfamiliar with Clinton’s efforts for most of his second term. Can’t Hannity & Colmes find someone who’s not ethically challenged to advocate for Republicans these days?

The discussion began with a clip of Dick Cheney, one of the country’s least popular figures, putting the focus on the leaks, and taking them off the NIE report, itself, by complaining that the leaks damage national security.

North, whose own track record indicates a willingness to break the law when he feels justified, sanctimoniously said, “The fact is, these are not just unauthorized, they are illegal leaks of classified information, the kind of thing that give aid and comfort to our enemies and makes it more difficult to defend the American people.”

That’s when Hannity started in on the unfair media coverage. “Now that more information has come out on this, you see just how biased the news media is here. Cause one of the main conclusions is, success in Iraq is clearly crucial to our efforts to win this war on terror because (the NIE) says ‘should the jihadists leave Iraq, perceiving themselves to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight.’” That comes from Page 2 of the declassified pages. What Hannity didn’t mention is that the previous sentence read, “Perceived jihadist success (in Iraq) would inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere.” The sentence following the one Hannity read says, “We assess that the underlying factors fueling the spread of the movement outweigh its vulnerabilities and are likely to do so for the duration of the timeframe for this Estimate.” (my emphasis)

Hannity read another excerpt, this one from page 1: “US-led counterterrorism efforts have seriously damaged the leadership of Al Qaeda and disrupted its operations.”

But he neglected to read the rest of the sentence: “however, we judge that al-Qa’ida will continue to pose the greatest threat to the Homeland and US interests abroad by a single terrorist organization. We also assess that the global jihadist movement – which includes al-Qa’ida, affiliated and independent terrorist groups, and emerging networks and cells – is spreading and adapting to counterterrorism efforts.”

Hannity started in with the phony-baloney Hanctimony: “What’s frustrating to me, we’re 45 days out of an election. It almost reminds me – here we go: Dan Rather, forged documents, the media trying to influence the results of these elections again.” He “forgot,” of course, about the questionable credibility of the Swift Boat Vets, whom Hannity was more than happy to host nearly every night during the 2004 campaign season. (Anyone who does a site search of “Swift Boat" can see how often they appeared on FOX News.)

North agreed that the NIE release was an unscrupulous effort to affect the election. “Certainly, that’s the intent.” North further decried the leaks, saying that they were “seriously jeopardizing this country for political gain on the part of the adversaries of this administration.”

Alan Colmes brought up the Valerie Plame leak and argued with North over the administration’s double standard about leaks. It’s a good point but missed, in my view, what are the more important ones: That while North was trying to blame Democrats with a hypothesis that they were endangering the country by discussing the NIE, he was deliberately overlooking the real threats already reported by US intelligence agencies and in existence before the leak. The assessments made by real intelligence professionals, which North is not, indicate that the US is more vulnerable since the invasion of Iraq.

Colmes did go on to refute the notion that it's all partisanship by pointing out that Republicans had joined Democrats in calling for the release of the full report. Colmes added, “The White House selectively released information that it thought made itself look good here. They don’t want the whole report released. Why not?”

North, grandiosely proclaimed that he was probably the only person there to have read a National Intelligence Estimate and that if the full report were to be released, too much information would be given out to help our enemies.

Never mind that our presence in Iraq may be helping our enemies even more.