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Tag: Terrorism

The following is a fact-check for the 5/9/2010 episode of Meet the Press: (transcript)

DAVID GREGORY | Eric Holder said “failure was not an option” regarding the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed | TRUE

MR. HOLDER: Well, there are other charges that are–that could be brought against him in addition to those he would stand accused of with regard to the 9/11 plot. There are a variety of other things that he could be tried for. And I think we can provide him with fairness and with justice in the systems that we now have in place.

MR. GREGORY: But you said, with regard to any KSM trial, failure is not an option

This is a quick easy one. The danger with using an expression like “failure is not an option” is that it is often an example of hyperbole by either a reporter, pundit, or politician. In this case it is an exact quote from Mr. Holder to the Senate Judiciary Committee in November of 2009. TRUE.

Christian Science Monitor
NY Times

(Ed. Note: This post was backdated by one day, to keep the preview post for the following week’s show as the top post on the site)

The following is a fact-check for the 5/9/2010 episode of Meet the Press: (transcript)

KATTY KAY (BBC) | Pres. Bush tried hundreds of terror suspects in civilian courts and wasn’t criticized | TRUE

MS. KAY: …some of, some of this is intensely political. Look, President Bush tried hundreds of terror suspects in civilian courts. He tried Zacarias Moussaoui, he tried Richard Reid in civilian courts. Nobody ever criticized his administration, either from the left or the right, for using civilian courts.

President Bush’s administration did try hundreds of terror suspects in civilian courts, but the exact number is up for debate. Multiple sources report different numbers. For instance, The New York Times reports that in the eight years of the Bush administration, at least 319 convictions for terrorism or terrorism-related crimes were done through the civilian justice system. The New York Times came up with this number from a 2009 budget request made by the Bush administration’s Department of Justice, and when contacted by, a media relations officer from DOJ could not verify the number. According to, NYU’s Terrorism Trial Report Card only identifies 174 individuals who were convicted in civilian courts for terrorism or national security violations. And according to Human Rights First, 190 suspected terrorists were prosecuted in civilian courts. Katty Kay was correct in stating that hundreds of terror suspects were tried in civilian courts by the Bush administration, but we don’t have an exact number.

We were unable to find any substantial criticism of the Bush administration’s civilian court trials of terrorism suspects. We deem Ms. Kay’s statement TRUE.

The following is a fact-check for the 5/9/2010 episode of Meet the Press: (transcript)

A.G. ERIC HOLDER | Faisal Shahzad’s phone number was not originally acquired because of racial profiling | MOSTLY TRUE

MR. GREGORY: Wasn’t it racial profiling that led us to ultimately get the most important piece of information from this guy, which was a telephone number that he uses in the plot because he was held aside from for a second screening earlier this year?

MR. HOLDER: No. What led us to him was good normal law enforcement. Looking at what people did tracking down that car, where did that car come from, who owned that car, who sold that car? Doing all the kinds of things that we do in traditional law enforcement without any resort to, to racial profiling.

According to this New York Times article, racial profiling was not the reason Mr. Shahzad was stopped on his way back to the US from Pakistan. He was stopped because he was returning from Pakistan and Pakistan was one of the 14 countries listed on the extra-screening list established in the wake of the failed 12/25 “underwear bomber” incident. Now it is of course possible that he received attention because of his race/ethnicity in excess of the extra screening put in place for visitors from those 14 countries, but there is not clear evidence of that. Holder is somewhat misleading in the sense that he appears to be downplaying the role of the phone number the government received from Mr. Shahzad during that stop. According to the same article, the linking of the number to Mr. Shahzad was an essential turn of events during the investigation. Therefore we give Holder a MOSTLY TRUE here.