It was bad enough that Fox News outed the identity of a Navy SEAL Team 6 member who has written a memoir about his participation in the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden – at the same time that the network was concern trolling about national security information possibly divulged by the publication of the SEAL’s pseudonymous book. But the next day, under cover of that same “concern,” Fox News military analyst – and newly-minted OPSEC swift boater – Bill Cowan suggested that any fallout from the revelation of the author’s true identity would be the Obama administration’s fault. Host Martha MacCallum helped perpetuate the falsehood by failing to correct or challenge it in any way.
I posted a week or so ago about Cowan’s role in the Swift Boat Dishonorable Disclosures video by a group of supposedly non-partisan intelligence and military veterans – who nonetheless have suspicious ties to the Republican Party. On Friday, August 24, MacCallum trotted out Cowan, presented him as a “Fox News military analyst” and fed him questions clearly designed to unleash his inner Swift Boater.
Referring to the possibility that there could be national security leaks in the SEAL’s upcoming book on the Bin Laden raid (and never mind the known security leaking by Fox of his name and location) MacCallum said to Cowan, “You feel very strongly about all of this… “
Cowan was understandably critical of the SEAL’s book. “It’s hard to conceive that there won’t be some things divulged that should not be divulged,” he said. Fair enough.
But MacCallum then deliberately maneuvered the discussion to Obama – even though the SEAL book has nothing to do with him. She said, “It seems to me that your outrage really centers mostly on why we’re having this conversation in the first place and those details that began to come out after that picture we saw in the (White House) Situation Room (the night of the Bin Laden raid) and after this whole thing began to be known.” In other words, she was feeding Cowan an opening to launch his OPSEC-campaign talking points – but disguised as news and punditry.
Cowan complied immediately: “Martha, you know there’s so much information that’s put out there – not only about the Bin Laden raid.” Cowan also named the Stuxnet computer worm and a terrorist operation in Yemen. “Those are three prime examples of information being leaked that should not be leaked and which damages national security.”
Then as if Fox News hadn’t leaked the name of the SEAL but Obama had, Cowan said accusingly,
This SEAL whose real name is now out there, you can be sure everybody – all of our enemies are looking to find out who his friends were on Facebook because he tried to put this linkage together of who people are associated with. So you have this overall problem of information getting out there, very sophisticated bad guys using it to do things and you always step back and say, ‘what’s the motivation?’ And, Martha, most people who are in very sensitive positions, who run sensitive operations, who have access to them, are polygraphed on a routine basis… to make sure they’re not divulging information.
In the White House, at the highest levels of the administration, people are not polygraphed. They’re given access to that information by virtue of their positions. And therefore, it comes to reason that most of these leaks indeed are coming out of the White House and the motivation is to keep this administration in power.
In fact, NBC News has since reported that Al Qaeda websites have already posted the SEAL’s name and photo and vowed revenge – following Fox News’ release of the SEAL’s identity.
But MacCallum failed to point out to the “we report, you decide” network’s audience that it was Fox, not the Obama administration that had revealed the SEAL’s identity. Nor did she challenge Cowan’s thinly-based, evidenceless conclusion that it had to be the White House doing the leaking because they’re the ones with the motivation.
Instead, MacCallum piled on, saying that the New York Times had “cited senior administration officials as being the source of the information." She added, "But the administration, as you well know, has said that they did not leak any of this information.” Whether deliberately or not, MacCallum mixed apples and oranges here. The New York Times report was not about the outing of the SEAL but about a cyberattack targeting Iran’s nuclear program. In her confusion, she also “forgot” to mention that it wasn't just the White House denying it had leaked to the Times. The Times, itself, specifically said that it was not the White House doing the leaking.
Nevertheless, MacCallum asked pointedly, “Does this go anywhere from here?” She wondered if their conversation would “lead to some of those (high, Obama administration) levels, do you think?”
Will this be the News Corp USA version of the British phone hacking scandal? Endangering the lives of the military may just beat hacking the phone of a dead kidnap victim — are they trying to one-up themselves?
Off With Your Heads!