NBC's Matt Lauer Maintains Only "the Far Left" is Concerned about Bush's Civil Liberties Abuses

Summary: On Today, during an interview with former CIA agent Michael Sheehan about his new book, Matt Lauer said, "You say we've got to use more undercover agents, informants, wiretapping, email surveillance, the works. The sound you just heard, Michael, is the far left, grabbing for their remote controls, 'cause they say, you're going to do this, you're going to trample civil liberties." In fact, Americans across the political spectrum have denounced the Bush administration for alleged violations of civil liberties.

mediamatters.org

On the May 14 edition of NBC's Today, during an interview with former CIA agent Michael Sheehan about his new book, Crush the Cell: How to Defeat Terrorism Without Terrorizing Ourselves (Crown, May 2008), host Matt Lauer said, "You say we've got to use more undercover agents, informants, wiretapping, email surveillance, the works. The sound you just heard, Michael, is the far left, grabbing for their remote controls, 'cause they say, you're going to do this, you're going to trample civil liberties." In fact, despite Lauer's suggestion that it is only "the far left" that is concerned about "trample[d] civil liberties," Americans across the political spectrum have denounced the Bush administration for alleged violations of civil liberties, including conservatives such as former congressman (and current Libertarian Party presidential candidate) Bob Barr, former Reagan administration associate deputy attorney general Bruce Fein, other members of the conservative American Freedom Agenda, and members of the libertarian Cato Institute.

In addition, Lauer did not challenge Sheehan's assertion that the wiretapping and investigative authorities of the CIA, FBI, and NYPD have not "been abused over the last seven years." Sheehan stated: "What you need is good oversight involved. You need oversight within the agencies; you need congressional oversight; oversight from the press -- and make sure that when we give our CIA or FBI or NYPD the authority to do wiretaps or do investigations, that they're not going to abuse it. I don't think it has been abused over the last seven years." Lauer did not point to any of the reports of abuses of authority by the Department of Justice inspector general or to the reports of dissent from within the administration regarding the warrantless domestic surveillance program run by the National Security Agency (NSA).

As Media Matters for America has noted, in a March 2007 report, the Justice Department inspector general (IG) found many "instances of illegal or improper use of national security letters [NSLs]" by the FBI between 2003 and 2005. ...

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Original headline: "NBC's Lauer falsely suggested only 'the far left' is concerned about Bush's alleged civil liberties violations"