Despite a newfound reputation as an unbiased news source, an influx of hundreds of millions of dollars, and the new ownership of a massive media conglomerate, The Huffington Post is apparently incapable of fact-checking the articles that appear on its website. An entry posted late this morning on the website attributes an apparently erroneous quotation to Sen. John McCain.
The line comes in a Huffington Post article written by legal scholar Bruce Fein entitled, “McCain Dethrones the Rule of Law.”
This author reported last month that Fein, who wrote the first article of impeachment against Bill Clinton, has drafted articles of impeachment against Barack Obama over the president’s unwise, unauthorized, and unconstitutional military action against Libya. This author is fully supportive of Fein’s goals and actions on this matter.
Unfortunately, it appears an online prank got past him – and The Huffington Post.
Fein quotes McCain as saying, “Any [p]resident, Republican or Democrat, should be able to deploy armed forces whenever and wherever he deems necessary.”
This author has written extensively about the president’s usurpation of the Congress’ war-making power, as well as the collective Congressional abdication led by John McCain. After reading Fein’s article, I started to include the quotation in a short post on the topic. However, I could find no authentication for it anywhere.
It appears to have originated on the website of the Arizona Sunlight, which bills itself as “the home of John Semmens’ semi-news, a satirical review of the events shaping our nation and the world.” The original source of the words is a May 21 post entitled, “Wrangling Over the War Powers Act.”
Immediately before the McCain “quotations,” Semmens attributed a number of humorous, fictitious quotations to Sen. Carl Levin, D-MI. “The War Powers Act was passed in 1973 by a Democratic Congress to protect the country from being dragged into an unnecessary war by a Republican President,” Semmens has Levin declare. “Its attempted use by Republicans to try to tie the hands of President Obama is politics at its worst.”
Someone reposted Semmens’ satire on FreeRepublic.com, where not all of the readers got the joke. It likely passed from there to Fein.
The Rest of the Article is Fein
All the remaining quotations in Fein’s article – from James Madison, James Wilson, Thomas Paine, Abraham Lincoln, Justice Robert Jackson, and John Bassett Moore – are authentic. The Founding Fathers vested the decision to go to war solely in the hands of the legislative branch.
Unfortunately, all the remaining quotations of Senator McCain are authentic, as well.
McCain did, indeed, say: “No president has ever recognized the constitutionality of the War Powers Act, and neither do I. So, I don’t feel bound by any deadline.”
In a 1994 debate over the presidential use of military force, McCain said if the president unilaterally initiates a war Congress has no “right to declare peace,” because “the president of the United States is given the responsibility, the most grave responsibility of sending into harm’s way our greatest national treasure, our young men and women.”
McCain’s blasé indifference to the Constitution, or the law, simply made the satirical quip seem all-too-believable.
Impeachment or Indifference?
If McCain never uttered the exact words in question, he has supported the concept of unlimited, unilateral war-by-decree. The 2008 Republican presidential candidate has told news outlets Barack Obama has the unquestioned authority to send troops into Libya without congressional approval. In his 1994 debate, he stated, “[A]t no time during those [Cold War] years would I have contemplated prohibiting the president of the United States from military actions any place in the world.”
If that does not excuse the misquotation, at least it makes it more understandable. It also renders Fein’s analysis of McCain accurate despite it.
Senator McCain’s blather betrayed a sub-literate understanding of the Constitution and infidelity to his oath of office. The latter requires him to demand the impeachment and removal of President Obama for the greatest usurpation of congressional authority in the history of the United States. Instead, the Senator is conspiring with the president to facilitate the usurpation. (Emphasis added.)
If McCain finds these matters mundane, the law could not be more insistent.
Barack Obama sent U.S. troops to Libya while the Congress was in recess, without prior approval. He has since extended this war beyond the 60-day period provided by the most liberal reading of the War Powers Resolution.
George F. Will recently told Laura Ingraham that Barack Obama is “traducing” the law. Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman accused Obama of “shredding the Constitution,” saying his action “defiantly violates the law.”
Republicans Ron Paul, Rand Paul, Jim DeMint, Walter Jones, John Cornyn, and Richard Lugar, among others, have been critical of the president’s policy. So, too, have Democrats like Dennis Kucinich, Jim Webb, Barbara Lee, and Maxine Waters.
On the other hand most Democrats and such Republicans as John McCain, John Thune, and Mark Kirk have defended Obama. Others, including blogger Pamela Geller, have been hopelessly contradictory about American policy toward Libya.
However, the House passed two amendments last week, authored by Republican Scott Garrett of New Jersey and Democrat John Conyers of Michigan respectively, stating that the National Defense Authorization Act does not authorize the war in Libya and prohibiting the use of U.S. ground troops in the conflict.
As Obama promises “no let-up” against Muammar Qaddafi, Congress is moving toward a vote against any authorization of the war at all.
This unprecedented state of affairs demands redress. Fein could not have been more correct about the bulk of his article.
Is There an Editor in the House?
I learned during my many years as a Managing Editor that scrupulous authors, including first-rate scholars, make honest mistakes. Dealing with various subordinates (and not infrequently, superiors), I emphasized that editing requires more than cut-and-pasting articles as they arrive in one’s inbox; they must be, well, edited, as well as fact-checked, before they appear under the publication’s masthead. Witnessing deadline-driven errors and editorial laziness firsthand makes it easier to spot in other publications.
One would think it would be harder to find in a multi-million-dollar venture like The Huffington Post.
Then again, many of those millions come from the denizens of the Shadow Party. In March 2009, The Huffington Post received a $1.75 million grant to begin an Investigative Fund from George LaMarche, a member of Democracy Alliance – another funnel of Soros’ mega-bucks into politics. According to Dan Gainor of the Media Research Center, HuffPo’s “investigations merged with the possibly even more left-wing Center for Public Integrity, on whose board Arianna Huffington sits.” CPI received $651,650 from George Soros’ Open Society Institute (OSI) in 2009.
Gainor recently published a comprehensive study exposing Soros’ contributions to at least 30 mainstream media outlets.
In February, Arianna Huffington sold her website to AOL for $315 million.
Somehow this influx of money could not assure one article was adequately verified before being posted.
Once again, a citizen journalist has fact-checked the “mainstream media” and found it in error. Wise readers would bypass the mainstream altogether and begin by reading this website instead.
1. This took place during debate over an amendment introduced by Sen. Arlen Specter, then a Republican senator from Pennsylvania, banning Bill Clinton from sending troops to Haiti without congressional authorization. (It was defeated on August 5, 1994, by a 63-31 vote.) McCain’s words appear in 140 Congressional Record, 1994, 190809.