What Cheney Will Say... What You Should Know
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Editor's Note: Dick Cheney is a habitual misleader, and there's no reason why he should stop during the vice presidential debates. Here is a list of some of Cheney's favorite misleads and the facts that show what he says just ain't so.
"[Saddam] provided a safe-haven for terrorists over the years ... he had a relationship with al Qaeda."
FACT: A new CIA assessment – which Cheney himself requested months ago – states, "there is no conclusive evidence that the regime harbored terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi." One U.S. official stated, "The evidence is that Saddam never gave Zarqawi anything." [ Knight Ridder, 10/5/04]
FACT: The Sept. 11 Commission found no "collaborative relationship" between Iraq and al Qaeda. [ Washington Post, 6/17/04]
FACT: CIA interrogators found "Osama bin Laden had rejected entreaties from some of his lieutenants to work jointly with Saddam." [ New York Times, 1/14/04]
FACT: The chairman of the monitoring group appointed by the United Nations Security Council to track al Qaeda found "no evidence linking al Qaeda to Saddam Hussein." [New York Times, 6/27/03]
FACT: A British Intelligence report found "no current links between the Iraqi regime and the al Qaeda network." [ BBC, 2/5/03]
FACT: "Nearly a year after U.S. and British troops invaded Iraq, no evidence has turned up to verify allegations of Saddam's links with al Qaeda." [ Knight Ridder, 3/3/04]
"We're also working very hard to stand up Iraqi security forces, training and equipping the Iraqis so that they'll be able to take on the fight and be responsible for providing for their own security just as quickly as possible."
FACT: Last Monday, the Pentagon said that "only about 53,000 of the 100,000 Iraqis on duty have now undergone training." According to Pentagon documents obtained by Reuters, of the 90,000 in the police force, "only 8,169 have received full training." [ AP, 6/10/04]
FACT: Last week, the U.S. military "arrested a senior commander of the nascent Iraqi National Guard." The commander was arrested on suspicion of "having associations with known insurgents." The move raised concerns "about the loyalty and reliability of the new security forces just months before general elections are scheduled across the embattled country." [ New York Times, 9/29/04]
"America faces a choice on November 2nd between a strong and steadfast President and his opponent, who seems to adopt a new position every day."
FACT: Cheney opposed invading Baghdad before he supported it. In 1991, Cheney cautioned against U.S. troops advancing into the city, "telling a Seattle audience that capturing Saddam wouldn't be worth additional U.S. casualties or the risk of getting 'bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq.'" [ American Progress Action Fund, 9/2/04]
FACT: "An examination of Kerry's words in more than 200 speeches and statements, comments during candidate forums and answers to reporters' questions does not support the accusation ... Kerry repeatedly described Hussein as a dangerous menace who must be disarmed or eliminated, demanded that the U.S. build broad international support for any action in Iraq and insisted that the nation had better plan for the post-war peace ... taken as a whole, Kerry has offered the same message ever since talk of attacking Iraq became a national conversation more than two years ago." [ San Francisco Chronicle, 9/23/04]
"On national security, [Sen. Kerry] has shown at least one measure of consistency. Over the years, he has repeatedly voted against weapons systems for the military. He voted against the Apache helicopter, against the Tomahawk cruise missile, against even the Bradley Fighting Vehicle."
FACT: Almost all of the defense cuts Kerry voted for were endorsed or originally proposed by...Dick Cheney. In 1991, the Washington Post reported Cheney's Defense Department wanted "to terminate such gulf war veterans as the...Bradley Fighting Vehicle." And in 1989, Cheney told Congress, "I forced the Army to make choices . . . I recommended that we cancel the AH-64 [Apache Helicopter] program two years out." [Washington Post, 12/10/91; Congressional Testimony, 7/13/89; American Prospect, 9/9/04]
FACT: Cheney once bragged he had set "an all-time record as defense secretary for canceling or stopping production [of weapons systems]." He "put an end to more than 100 systems, including the F-14, F-15 and F-16 fighters, the A-6, A-12, AV-8B and P-3 Navy and Marine planes, and the Army's Apache helicopter and M-1A1 tank." [Washington Post, 12/8/91]
"Iraq for years was listed by the U.S. State Department as a state sponsor of terror."
FACT: That didn't stop Cheney from doing business with Saddam's regime. "The United States had concluded that Iraq, Libya, and Iran supported terrorism and had imposed strict sanctions on them. Yet during Cheney's tenure at Halliburton the company did business in all three countries." [ New Yorker, 2/9/04]
FACT: "Halliburton Co., the oil company that was headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, signed contracts with Iraq worth $73 million through two subsidiaries while he was at its helm." [ UPI, 6/23/01]
FACT: Halliburton is being investigated by a grand jury for doing business – while Cheney was CEO – with Iran, also listed as a "state sponsor of terror" by the State Department. "The grand jury has subpoenaed various documents covering Halliburton's Iranian operations, a sign some evidence has surfaced indicating the company knowingly violated" U.S. anti-terror sanctions. [ Washington Times, 7/22/04]
"We've got a great alliance – we've got 30 countries fighting alongside of us in Iraq."
FACT: The shaky international alliance in Iraq is disintegrating. Norway quietly pulled out its 155 military engineers last June, "leaving behind only about 15 personnel to assist a new NATO-coordinated effort to help train and equip Iraqi security forces. New Zealand intends to pull out its 60 engineers by September, while Thailand plans to withdraw its more than 450 troops that same month, barring a last-minute political reversal that Thai officials consider unlikely, say envoys from both countries. The Netherlands is likely to pull out next spring after the first of three Iraqi elections, while Polish military officials told the Pentagon that Poland's large contingent will probably leave in mid-2005, other diplomats say." [ Washington Post, 7/15/04]
FACT: After initial support, many members of the "coalition of the willing" decided to pull out of Iraq. Spain pulled its troops out this summer. Costa Rica pulled out last month after its government ruled it was illegal to support the war; Nicaragua withdrew troops last February. "Last spring, Honduras cut short the deployment of its 370 troops, and the Dominican Republic followed suit with its contingent of 302 forces – just days after reiterating a commitment to complete their one-year term." [ Miami Herald, 9/24/04]
FACT: International confidence in the United States has plummeted. According to new reports, "Much of Europe and the world feel insecure, but a growing number of nations no longer look to the U.S. for leadership and sanctuary. The Bush administration's unilateralist policies in Iraq and its perceived aloofness have left it less trusted at a time of widening global vulnerability." [ LA Times, 10/3/04]
FACT: While the invasion and occupation of Iraq has cost U.S. taxpayers more than $144 billion, the rest of the world has provided only $1.3 billion for Iraq's reconstruction (more than half of that coming from just two countries – Britain and Japan). The administration has done little follow-through on pledges made at Madrid's donors conference one year ago and as a result, America's allies have failed to meet their commitments. Compare that to the first Gulf War, where $53 billion of the $61 billion cost was provided by countries other than the United States, including Saudi Arabia and other Arab states ($36 billion), and Germany and Japan ($16 billion).
"One of the most important commitments the President made during the 2000 campaign was that our troops would be given the resources they need and the respect they deserve – and he has kept his word to the U.S. military."
FACT: Last October, eight months after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, nearly one-quarter of American troops serving in Iraq did not have ceramic-plated body armor, which can stop bullets fired from assault rifles and shrapnel. As late as this past March, soldiers headed for Iraq were still buying their own body armor. It wasn't until June 2004 – sixteen months after the invasion – that the Army's chief logistician announced that all U.S. troops were finally equipped with the lifesaving vests. [CBS News, 10/14/03; Associated Press, 3/26/04; Slate, 2/18/04; Boston Globe, 3/8/04]
FACT: The Washington Post reported in July that the U.S. military was running short on one crucial wartime need: bullets. The Pentagon underestimated both production need and the level of resistance soldiers would face in Iraq. Until U.S. production could be brought up to speed, however, the Army had to take "unusual stopgap measures" such as buying ammunition from foreign governments like Britain and Israel. [ Washington Post, 7/22/04]
FACT: The White House fought to keep reservists from receiving TRICARE – the Pentagon health insurance plan. According to estimates, 20 percent of guardsmen lack outside health insurance. The Bush administration formally opposed giving National Guard and Reserve members access to TRICARE, saying it was too expensive. [ Stars & Stripes, 7/17/04; Gannett, 10/23/03]
FACT: The Bush administration has tried to keep the true cost of war away from the eyes of the American public. The White House banned photos of flag-draped coffins coming home (even though the Bush campaign uses flag-draped corpses at Ground Zero in its political commercials). President Bush has also refused to attend funerals of the fallen in Iraq. [ Washington Post, 10/21/03; Illinois Times, 11/6/03]
"Five days after we captured Saddam Hussein, [Libyan dictator Moammar Ghadafi] went public and announced he was going to give up all his nuclear materials."
FACT: The decision by Libyan dictator Moammar Ghadafi to permit U.N. weapons inspectors into his country validated the argument that the United States can achieve its strategic international goals using tools other than military force – namely, diplomatic, political and economic pressure. According to the LA Times, "Libya was virtually isolated from the world" because of U.N. economic sanctions since it orchestrated the Pan Am 103 bombing. Desperate to re-enter the international community, the North African country has been trying for at least 10 years to have those sanctions lifted. And while the developments are certainly positive, they beg a number of questions. [ ABC News, 12/22/03; LA Times, 12/20/03]
On Health Care
"It is now possible for senior citizens to get a Medicare discount prescription drug card, which allows them to save 15 percent to 30 percent off their prescriptions."
FACT: A study commissioned by the AARP shows price increases have negated much of the savings promised to Medicare beneficiaries because drug manufacturers are offsetting discounts with prices that are higher than they otherwise would have been. [ AP, 7/1/04]
"We will work for medical liability reform because America's doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, not fighting off frivolous lawsuits."
FACT: While Cheney was at the helm, Halliburton filed 151 claims in 15 states around the nation, petitioning America's legal system an average of 30 times a year; most actions were filed against other corporations. [ Halliburton Watch]
FACT: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) this year found that "even large savings in premiums can have only a small direct impact on health care spending - private or governmental – because malpractice costs account for less than 2 percent of that spending." In fact, an analysis by the CBO shows capping Medicare malpractice would benefit physicians and doctors, but would reduce private health insurance premiums 0.4 percent. [ CBO Report, 1/8/04; Washington Post, 7/20/04]
FACT: The Government Accountability Office found that malpractice costs did not affect access to health care. In fact, in Pennsylvania and West Virginia – two of the 19 states supposedly in a "full-blown liability crisis," the number of doctors per capita has actually gone up over the past six years, according to the GAO. [ CBO Report, 1/8/04; Washington Post, 9/16/03]
FACT: Last year, Weiss Ratings, Inc., an independent financial services analysis company, issued a comprehensive study showing that in 19 states with malpractice caps, physicians suffered a 48.2 percent jump in their premiums. Meanwhile, in 32 states without caps, premiums rose by only 35.9 percent. The Des Moines Register points out, "There's simply no correlation between lawsuits and insurance rates. Rather, insurance rates are tied to the climate of the stock and bond market, where insurance companies invest much of their money." [ Weiss Ratings, 6/3/03; Des Moines Register, 7/11/03]
On the Economy
"The average savings from the President's across-the-board tax cuts topped $1,500."
FACT: According to CBO numbers, households in the middle 20 percent of income levels, with incomes averaging $57,000 per year, are receiving an average cut of $1,090 from the Bush tax cuts. Americans with incomes averaging $1.2 million per year are receiving average tax cuts of $78,460. [ Reuters, 8/14/04]
FACT: One-third of President Bush's tax cuts have gone to the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans, shifting more of the tax burden from America's rich to middle-class families. [ CBPP, 1/30/04]
"We've created jobs for the last 12 consecutive months-a total of about 1.7 million new jobs over the last year."
FACT: The economy has shed 900,000 jobs since March 2001, assuring Bush he will end his four-year term with the worst jobs record since Herbert Hoover.
FACT: All told, Bush currently presides over the weakest "recovery" in 72 years, in terms of job growth. Additionally, wages are stagnating, personal bankruptcies are up 33 percent since 2000, and consumer confidence is plummeting. [ NN, 8/26/04; USA Today, 8/27/04; AP, 8/31/04]
FACT: The gains from America's "productivity-led recovery" have been unevenly distributed. While corporate profits, CEO pay and business investment have risen, pay has lagged behind and the wages of production workers have stagnated. [ Economist, 8/6/04]
"Congress took an important step last week by extending tax relief for working families."
FACT:Two-thirds of the benefits in the bill went to the top one-fifth of all earners. [ Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 9/24/04]
FACT: Middle-class families receive an average benefit of just $169. This could be more than off-set by program cuts or future tax increases that will inevitably be required to pay down the added debt created by the bill. [ , 9/27/04]
On the Judicial System
"The Democrats in the Senate have been doing everything they can – including using the filibuster – to keep the President's sensible, mainstream nominees off the bench."
FACT:201 of Bush's judicial nominations have already been confirmed, more than in Ronald Reagan's first term, George H.W. Bush's only term or Clinton's last term. The Senate has confirmed 35 circuit court nominees, more than in Reagan's or Clinton's first term. More than 96 percent of federal judicial seats are filled. [Senate Comparison; Judiciary Committee; CNN, 10/04/00]
FACT: Just 10 of Bush's nominees have been blocked. [ Reuters, 7/22/04]
FACT: The nominees that have been blocked were radical right-wingers. For example, California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown – whose nomination was blocked – has said, "Today's senior citizens blithely cannibalize their grandchildren because they have a right to get as much 'free' stuff as the political system will permit them to extract." [ People for the American Way]