Bill O’Reilly vs…. John Sifton

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Last month, Daniel Schulman and I revealed that John Sifton and his private investigation firm, One World Research, were hired by the ACLU to obtain photographs of CIA interrogators for Guantanamo lawyers defending high-value terrorist suspects. Someone at Bill O’Reilly’s show, “The O’Reilly Factor,” evidently read the piece, because the Fox News Channel show sent a producer to Sifton’s house last week to ask questions about his work in an ambush-style interview:

Beyond O’Reilly’s aggressive tactics, two things stick out about this segment. First, it was great to see O’Reilly refer to our scoop—but rather aggravating that he didn’t credit us with the story. Also, O’Reilly refers to what Sifton did as an “illegal operation.” That’s far from clear. While the Justice Department is investigating Gitmo defense lawyers for showing the photos Sifton took to detainees, there’s no indication—so far—that Sifton himself is being investigated. And even if Sifton was under investigation, that wouldn’t be proof that what he did was “illegal.” Taking photographs of people in public places isn’t, generally, against the law—even if you know that they’re CIA officers. Nor is it necessarily illegal to research the identities of CIA officers. Anyway, you can read more about the operation here, and judge for yourself.

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