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Neil Cavuto Echoes Limbaugh: Democrats Will be Responsible if We're "Hit Again"

Reported by Melanie - June 17, 2005

This morning (June 17, 2005), as I was preparing this post, I heard a tape of Rush Limbaugh saying, in essence, that if there is another terrorist attack it will be the Democrats fault. (Here is a transcript. Scroll down a bit to the shaded box in the middle of the screen.) After I heard that, the questions Neil Cavuto asked Congressman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) during a Thursday (June 16, 2005) segment on Your World w/Neil Cavuto held new meaning.

A bit of background: Prior to the passage of the Patriot Act, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies could spy on anybody they wanted to spy on but in order to tap their phone or invade their house or look through their mail, they had to get a search warrant. In order to get a search warrant, the agency would have to draft a written request for a warrant, stating why they needed to do whatever it was they needed to do, and stating what the individual had done to make the agency suspicious of them. They would then present the information to a judge who would, in essence, be a check and balance, and the judge would decide whether or not the evidence presented was sufficient enough to issue a warrant.

Under the Patriot Act, the FBI can, for example, go to a library or bookstore without a search warrant, and obtain information about what sort of books any American (or any human being, for that matter) is reading or buying. The check and balance of having to obtain a search warrant is gone. In addition, a librarian or bookstore owner may not divulge to the patron that their reading list is being viewed by the FBI. If they do, they themselves are subject to prosecution.

Bernie Sanders wants this section of the Patriot Act to sunset, as it is scheduled to do. If it sunsets, the FBI will still be able to spy on whoever they want, but they'll again have to go through the process of obtaining a search warrant, just like they did for the 200+ years prior to the Patriot Act.

Bernie Sanders, and 38 Republicans, introduced a bill in the House requiring this provision to sunset, and it passed on Wednesday. He was on Cavuto's show yesterday to talk about that. Notice (l) the disinformation in Cavuto's questions, and (2) his insinuation that Sanders (and by implication, Democrats) will be responsible if we're "hit again."

Cavuto's introduction: "If you thought the Patriot Act violated your right to privacy, then you're probably glad my next guest is on your side, because thanks to him, and pretty much him alone, investigators cannot check up on your books while you're checking out of the library." Cavuto introduced Sanders and then asked him this question: "So, you got your way with this but you want the whole thing scrapped, the whole Patriot Act scrapped. Why?"

Sanders said no, he does not want the whole Patriot Act scrapped, but he thinks we "want to look at" a "number of provisions" that are scheduled to sunset. He said of course he wants to protect Americans but without "undermining the Constitutional rights that make us a free country," and that 38 Republicans have joined to support him on that. He said he also wants to sunset the "sneak and peek" provision of the Patriot Act, which permits the FBI to search homes without the "judicial review" of having to obtain a search warrant.

Cavuto then asked: "Are you concerned though, Congressman, that if there is another attack on this country, you might have, with the best of intentions, contributed?"

Sanders said no, that he just wants some balance.

Cavuto said that in 2001, 80 - 90 people were responsible for the "curious chatter" that something would happen on 9/11 but "only about 19" of them ended up being "clearly, undeniably terrorists. But, we went ahead and eavesdropped on all 80 or 100, would that have been so wrong?"

Sanders began to speak by saying no, if the government has reason to believe...

Cavuto interrupted: The "fear" is that "you are going to make the authorities more leery of doing any of this and we will be hit again."

Sanders said "Well, we might be hit again," but people should not be fearful when they take books out of the library, and feel "the FBI is looking over their shoulders because of the title of that book. I do not accept the fact that we're making America less safe."

Comment: Obviously, this segment was never designed to inform the Fox audience about this provision of the Patriot Act, or precisely what Bernie Sanders (and 38 Republicans) are concerned about. It was designed to vilify Democrats and give the impression that they're opening us up to being "hit again." Cavuto and Limbaugh, ah yes, the radical right media machine at work again, but it's taking on a very, very dangerous tone.

(Cavuto may have a baby face and he may smile, look innocent and act dumb, but he's as dangerous as Hannity, Limbaugh, or Savage. Check him out.)

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