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Joe Klein wrote a column in which he stated the House FISA bill would:

give terrorists the same legal protections as Americans. That is well beyond stupid.

What was way beyond stupid, of course, was Joe Klein himself, as Glenn Greenwald pointed out at the time.

Now, after telling 4 million Time subscribers that Democrats want to coddle terrorists, Klein does a mealy mouthed "correction" (but just online, apparently). And once again, Greenwald is there to slap him silly. First of all, there's the not insignificant point that Klein reported on legislation that he plainly didn't read.

Yet look at Klein's first statement in his "correction":

I may have made a mistake in my column this week about the FISA legislation passed by the House, although it's difficult to tell for sure given the technical nature of the bill's language and fierce disagreements between even moderate Republicans and Democrats on the Committee about what the bill actually does contain.

One can debate whether Klein's original, inaccurate claims about the House FISA bill in his Time article can fairly be called "lies" (as opposed to inexcusably reckless inaccuracies). But this statement by Klein in his "correction" unquestionably is a lie.

There is no confusion possible about whether the House bill -- as Klein originally wrote -- "would require the surveillance of every foreign-terrorist target's calls to be approved by the FISA court." Anyone who told that to Klein was lying. All you have to do is read the House bill in order to know that. Here is Section 2 of the RESTORE Act -- the very first section after the "Definitions" section:

'CLARIFICATION OF ELECTRONIC SURVEILLANCE OF NON-UNITED STATES PERSONS OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES'

Sec. 105A. (a) Foreign to Foreign Communications-

(1) IN GENERAL - Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, a court order is not required for electronic surveillance directed at the acquisition of the contents of any communication between persons that are not known to be United States persons and are reasonably believed to be located outside the United States for the purpose of collecting foreign intelligence information, without respect to whether the communication passes through the United States or the surveillance device is located within the United States.

Seems clear enough, right? Well, it would be to anyone who read the legislation, but it's clear that Klein isn't depending on real reporting. He's letting Republican spin him.

But Klein, of course, never bothered to read the bill and still hasn't (even though he is published by Time to "report on" and opine about this bill). Instead, even now, he says that he has spoken with both Republicans and Democrats, and while Democrats insist that what he wrote was false, "the Republican Committee staff disagrees and says [his] reporting is correct."

In other words, Klein's GOP source(s) blatantly lied to him about what the bill does and doesn't do in order to manipulate him into uncritically feeding Time's readers the Rush Limbaugh Line -- namely, that Democrats are giving equal rights to Terrorists and preventing the Leader from eavesdropping on foreign Terrorists. And Klein dutifully wrote down what he was told in Time without bothering to find out if it was true and without ever bothering to talk to any of the bill's Democratic proponents. And no Time Editor knew enough or cared enough to bother correcting any of it. And thus, the unfortunate 4 million Americans who read and trust Time now think that the Democrats' FISA bill does the exact opposite of what it actually does.

Modern journalism, "Time" style. Of course, Klein has a history of dishonest hackery, and his editors, clearly fearful of the all-powerful Klein, continuously back up that hackery without requiring him to correct his constant errors in the print magazine, the better to maintain his pretense of competence.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Nov 25, 2007 at 09:10 AM PST.

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