March 2, 2017

Fake Fact Check: AP Ignores Info Proving Trump Right on Post-9/11 Terror Convictions

The Associated Press made a series of weak and biased claims in its woefully inadequate “fact check” published after President Donald Trump’s Tuesday evening speech to a joint session of Congress. One of the weakest, qualifying as a “Fake Fact Check,” was its contention that Trump’s statement that “the vast majority of individuals convicted for terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country,” is false, when President’s statement could not have been more correct.

What Trump said was known to be true over three weeks before his speech.

Despite the known truth, it would appear that the AP believed otherwise for two reasons: partially because its reporters did a sloppy “fact check” three weeks ago the last time the topic came up after a federal judge’s ruling, and partially because they didn’t venture outside of their protective bubble, as a result failing to see (or perhaps failing to report) what several center-right outlets noted at the time.

Here is the AP’s current contention (bolds are mine throughout this post):

TRUMP: “According to data provided by the Department of Justice, the vast majority of individuals convicted for terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country. We have seen the attacks at home — from Boston to San Bernardino to the Pentagon and yes, even the World Trade Center.”

THE FACTS: It’s unclear what Justice Department data he’s citing, but the most recent government information that has come out doesn’t back up his claim. Just over half the people Trump talks about were actually born in the United States, according to Homeland Security Department research revealed last week. That report said of 82 people the government determined were inspired by a foreign terrorist group to attempt or carry out an attack in the U.S., just over half were native-born citizens.

Even the attacks Trump singled out weren’t entirely the work of foreigners. Syed Rizwan Farook, who along with his Pakistani wife killed 14 people in the deadly 2015 attack in San Bernardino, California, was born in Chicago.

The far more comprehensive data set Trump referenced was identified by Byron York at the Washington Examiner on February 6 and noted here in a NewsBusters post after Washington State U.S. District Judge James Robart’s ruling halting the enforcement of Trump’s executive order temporarily banning travel from seven countries.

Recall that the allegedly learned Judge Robart, after asking this question in open court — “How many arrests have there been of foreign nationals for those seven countries since 9/11?” — answered it himself: “The answer to that is none, as best I can tell.”

At the time, the AP, in a “fact check,” noted that Judge Robart was wrong, but would only concede that “it’s not quite right to say no one from those (seven) nations has been arrested or accused in an extremist-related plot while living in the U.S.

Robart’s error made him far more than “not quite right.” The judge could not have been more wrong, as York explained:

… Last summer, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest analyzed public sources of information, seeking to learn more about people convicted of terror-related offenses. The Justice Department provided the subcommittee with a list of 580 people who were convicted — not just arrested, but tried and convicted — of terror-related offenses between Sept. 11, 2001 and Dec. 31, 2014.

The subcommittee investigated further and found that at least 380 of the 580 were foreign-born and that an additional 129 were of unknown origin. Of the 380, there were representatives — at least 60 — from all of the countries on the Trump executive order list. And with 129 unknowns, there might be more, as well.

In addition, since the Senate list was compiled, there have been others involved in terrorism in the United States from the seven countries.

Key points:

  • At least 65.5 percent (380 divided by 580) of post-9/11 terror-related convictions were of foreign-born individuals. The real answer is at least a bit higher, given the “unknown origin” of 129 of the remaining 200, and possibly much higher. To really rub it in, only 12.2 percent (71 divided by 580) are known to have been “native-born citizens.”
  • The real answer, which is somewhere between 65.5 percent and 87.8 percent, obviously constitutes a “vast majority.” Terrorism convictions during the past two years cannot possibly have significantly moved these percentages. Thus, Trump is obviously correct. AP, having carried out a “fake fact check,” is wrong.
  • AP’s original “fact check” told readers that the judge, who believed that no terror attacks by citizens of the seven countries had occurred, when “at least 60″ in fact have, was “not quite right.” Clearly, both the judge and AP could not have been more wrong.

Patrick Poole at PJ Media followed up on AP’s false claim immediately Tuesday evening Pacific Time, and provided an Archive.org link to a related June 2016 document posted by then-Senator Jeff Sessions containing the figures cited above.

Poole also added this trenchant commentary:

It is no mystery, contra the Associated Press, where this data came from. And as you can note, all of these cases involved Category I, II, and III terrorism offenses.

… some in the media and terrorism industry began throwing out other terrorism numbers from a number of difference sources with no reference to the Justice Department data cited by President Trump …

You may not like Trump’s positions, but attempts to falsify this data don’t remotely comport with the Obama Justice Department (data).

Consider this fact check: FAILED.

The AP’s “fact check” is also fake, because any reasonably informed journalist covering the Trump administration should have known that what Trump said was correct the moment he said it, and would have avoided committing this mistake, which should be considered embarrassing (sadly, whether anyone in the establishment press has the capacity and integrity to be embarrassed any more is an open question).

If any of these alleged journalists had looked outside of their insulated bubble three weeks ago and observed what the Examiner’s Byron York and several other center-right outlets noted in the wake of Judge Robart’s ignorant ruling, they would have known that Trump’s statement was true. This error also could have been avoided if AP had done a more thorough fact check after the judge’s ruling, instead of sloppily settling for an admission that the judge was “not quite right.” (But you see, going any further than that would have forced AP to admit that Trump was completely right in early February. Admitting that Donald Trump is right in any way, shape or form about anything is apparently forbidden.)

People this inept at keeping up with genuine news developments, this inept at research, or this deliberately deceptive (take your pick; multiple choices are allowed), have no business pretending to be fact checkers. They’re fakers.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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