Assume the Position
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
John Kerry - Stone Liar
"The only building that was guarded when the troops went into Baghdad was the oil ministry." - John Kerry, First Presidential Debate, September 30, 2004.
Lies are quick, responding to them — other than by saying, "Liar, liar, liar" — takes time. One of the problems with the debate format is that a host of quick lies and distortions can be thrown out as part of the two-minute answer or minute-and-a-half response, overwhelming the opponent because there isn't enough time to properly rebut them.
Here is the section of the debate that Kerry lie comes from. Bush gets the question, "What criteria would you use to determine when to start bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq?" from Leher and gives his two-minute answer, then Kerry gets his 90-second response:
LEHRER: New question, Mr. President. Two minutes.
What criteria would you use to determine when to start bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq?
BUSH: Let me first tell you that the best way for Iraq to be safe and secure is for Iraqi citizens to be trained to do the job. And that's what we're doing. We've got 100,000 trained now, 125,000 by the end of this year, 200,000 by the end of next year. [Round numbers and projections, possibly inaccurate.] That is the best way. We'll never succeed in Iraq if the Iraqi citizens do not want to take matters into their own hands to protect themselves. I believe they want to. Prime Minister Allawi believes they want to. [Opinion.]
And so the best indication about when we can bring our troops home -- which I really want to do, but I don't want to do so for the sake of bringing them home; I want to do so because we've achieved an objective -- is to see the Iraqis perform and to see the Iraqis step up and take responsibility. [Opinion.]
And so, the answer to your question is: When our general is on the ground and Ambassador Negroponte tells me that Iraq is ready to defend herself from these terrorists, that elections will have been held by then, that their stability and that they're on their way to, you know, a nation that's free; that's when. [Direct answer.]
And I hope it's as soon as possible. But I know putting artificial deadlines won't work. My opponent at one time said, "Well, get me elected, I'll have them out of there in six months." [Paraphrase, semi-accurate.] You can't do that and expect to win the war on terror. My message to our troops is, "Thank you for what you're doing. We're standing with you strong. We'll give you all the equipment you need. And we'll get you home as soon as the mission's done, because this is a vital mission." [Promises and opinion.]
A free Iraq will be an ally in the war on terror, and that's essential. A free Iraq will set a powerful example in the part of the world that is desperate for freedom. A free Iraq will help secure Israel. A free Iraq will enforce the hopes and aspirations of the reformers in places like Iran. A free Iraq is essential for the security of this country. [Opinions.]
Now Kerry gets 90 seconds to respond. He doesn't answer the question about criteria to begin reducing troops, nor does he directly address Bush's remarks, but he does deal in lies and distortions:
LEHRER: Ninety seconds, Senator Kerry.
KERRY: Thank you, Jim.
My message to the troops is also: Thank you for what they're doing, but it's also help is on the way. I believe those troops deserve better than what they are getting today. [Promise and opinion.]
You know, it's interesting. When I was in a rope line just the other day, coming out here from Wisconsin, a couple of young returnees were in the line, one active duty, one from the Guard. And they both looked at me and said: We need you. You've got to help us over there. [Doubtful anecdote.]
Now I believe there's a better way to do this. You know, the president's father did not go into Iraq, into Baghdad, beyond Basra. And the reason he didn't is, he said -- he wrote in his book -- because there was no viable exit strategy. And he said our troops would be occupiers in a bitterly hostile land. [Accurate paraphrase.]
That's exactly where we find ourselves today. There's a sense of American occupation. The only building that was guarded when the troops went into Baghdad was the oil ministry. [Blatant lie.] We didn't guard the nuclear facilities. [Probable lie.] We didn't guard the foreign office, where you might have found information about weapons of mass destruction. We didn't guard the borders. [Considering the immediately prior lies, I won't bother explaining why 'not well enough' doesn't equal 'not at all.']
Almost every step of the way, our troops have been left on these extraordinarily difficult missions. I know what it's like to go out on one of those missions when you don't know what's around the corner. [I was in Vietnam.]
And I believe our troops need other allies helping. I'm going to hold that summit. I will bring fresh credibility, a new start, and we will get the job done right. [Promises and opinions.]
Bush asks for a follow-up. If agreed to, both get an additional 30 seconds. Bush responds to Kerry's main promise, "help is on the way," without attempting to rebut the lies and distortions in Kerry's remarks.
LEHRER: All right, go ahead. Yes, sir?
BUSH: I think it's worthy for a follow-up.
LEHRER: Sure, right.
(CROSSTALK) LEHRER: We can do 30 seconds each here. All right.
BUSH: My opponent says help is on the way, but what kind of message does it say to our troops in harm's way, "wrong war, wrong place, wrong time"? Not a message a commander in chief gives, or this is a "great diversion." [Accurate quotes followed by opinion.]
As well, help is on the way, but it's certainly hard to tell it when he voted against the $87-billion supplemental to provide equipment for our troops, and then said he actually did vote for it before he voted against it. [Opinion.]
Not what a commander in chief does when you're trying to lead troops. [Opinion.]
LEHRER: Senator Kerry, 30 seconds.
KERRY: Well, you know, when I talked about the $87 billion, I made a mistake in how I talk about the war. [Lie talking about vote now mischaracterized as mistake talking about war.] But the president made a mistake in invading Iraq. Which is worse? [Opinion.]
I believe that when you know something's going wrong, you make it right. That's what I learned in Vietnam. When I came back from that war I saw that it was wrong. Some people don't like the fact that I stood up to say no, but I did. And that's what I did with that vote. And I'm going to lead those troops to victory. [I was in Vietnam, I protested Vietnam, and now I promise you…]
Bush's Paraphrase: Kerry and Edwards on NPR, Morning Edition, August 6, 2004. Kerry lays out his diplomatic plan, a summit and getting more allies involved. Then comes this exchange at 4:22 in the broadcast and 7:58 in the extended version (emphasis and any transcription errors are mine):
Inskeep: This is what I'm wondering though, in a year from now, since you do want to remain committed to Iraq, isn't it the case that there will still be many many thousands of American troops there, who are still fighting insurgents if the insurgents want to fight.
Kerry: Ah, no, not necessarily at all, because I think our diplomacy can produce a very different ingredient on the ground. Ah, and if it can't produce a different ingredient on the ground, let me tell ya something, that says something about what Iraqis want and what the people in the region want. I believe that, um, within a year from now we could significantly reduce American forces in Iraq. And, ah, that's my plan.
Inskeep: Within a year from right now, [we're in] August?
Kerry: [Talking over Inskeep] I believe we can. Absolutely, we can reduce the numbers, you bet.
The president takes office on January 20. The broadcast was August 6; the interview was taped in Minnesota the day before, on August 5. So, Kerry really said six-and-a-half months to achieve significant troop reductions, not all the troops out in six months as in Bush's paraphrase. He also strongly implied that if the insurgency was still going strong, it would indicate Iraqis didn't want a stable democracy, so he might write Iraq off as a lost cause and withdraw, anyway.
He also did something else. He subtly finessed the idea that if his diplomacy fails to get allies to send troops and money (the real "different ingredient on the ground"), that's the Iraqi's fault, as well.
There we have the "nuance" Kerry is known for, and why he is so enamored with diplomats and the UN — they can spin for days, weeks, and months and what they produce has all the substance of cotton candy. A quick translation into the common tongue: "I will or won't reduce troops and withdraw, in six-months or longer, but whatever happens, it won't be my fault."
Kerry's Blatant Lie: "The only building that was guarded when the troops went into Baghdad was the oil ministry."
Here is a partial list of buildings and locations that were guarded by US troops when they went into Baghdad:
Kerry's Probable Lie: "We didn't guard the nuclear facilities."
Kerry is almost undoubtedly referring to the looting of the Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center and the associated facilities south of Baghdad. While what is commonly referred to as the Tuwaitha complex covers some 23,000 acres of facilities and grounds, the main site of the Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center, where the Osiraq reactor was, lies some 11 miles (18 km) SSE of Baghdad on the east bank of the Tigris. It is where the IAEA had several tons of Iraq's low-enriched and yellow cake uranium under seal.
Tuwaitha was looted before US forces got to Baghdad, and Tuwaitha was guarded by US forces before the Oil Ministry was occupied. Regarding Tuwaitha, Kerry's statement is a lie.
The northward advance on Baghdad was split by the Tigris, the US Army's 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) and some of the US Marines' 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (1MEF) to the west, while the rest of 1MEF had been east of the Tigris since Kut. The Army captured the main airport SW of Baghdad on April 4. The battle of Curly, Larry and Moe (three intersections in SW Iraq) was on April 7. The New Presidential Palace (west bank of the Tigris) was captured April 8, and the Al-Rasheed Military Airfield (east of the Tigris) was captured the same day. The next day, April 9, more of Baghdad west of the Tigris was taken, the 1MEF made its run up the east bank of the Tigris to Tahrir Square, and the statue of Hussein in Firdos square came down. The Oil Ministry was not occupied until the following day, April 10.
The 1MEF took Tuwaitha on April 7, east of the Tigris, the day before they took Rasheed Airfield. Tuwaitha was being guarded by US forces 3 days before the Oil Ministry was occupied.
Tuwaitha obviously had been picked over by thieves. The fence and 12-foot concrete wall around the three storage buildings for radioactive material had huge gaps and U.S. Marines found the main gate open when they arrived April 7.
Inside, some radioactive material had been scattered around. Radioactivity measurements inside the three buildings found levels two to ten times background levels, a senior U.S. military official in Baghdad said, joining the news briefing via a satellite link.
Local Iraqis have told the Americans that Iraqi soldiers guarding Tuwaitha left on March 10, before the war started, and civilian guards abandoned the site March 20, the day before American ground forces entered Iraq from Kuwait.
Although reporters saw looters inside the radioactive material storage site after the Americans arrived, the defense officials said Thursday they had no evidence of any looting there after April 7. Other looters have been captured elsewhere on the sprawling, 23,000-acre Tuwaitha site, however, they said.
I have added the Oil Ministry and Tuwaitha to the graphic accompanying the April 10 UK Telegraph article on the fall of Baghdad the day before.
And here is the Associated Press graphic for Day 23 of the war (April 10), which indicates the Oil Ministry was occupied on the 10th, the day after Hussein's statue came down in Firdos Square. Note the other five blue squares and the two blue airports, all showing as occupied by US forces in addition to the Oil Ministry. While that is not a complete list, either, it again shows Kerry lied about the Oil Ministry being the "only building that was guarded…"
Kerry's $87 Billion Lie: "Well, you know, when I talked about the $87 billion, I made a mistake in how I talk about the war."
No, when Kerry talked about the $87 billion, he either lied or made a mistake about his vote, not in how he talks about the war. Ever since Kerry said, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it," people have generally treated it as one of the more humorous examples of Kerry's wishy-washy, on-both-sides-of-every-issue, tell'em-what-they-want-to-hear style. But, Kerry never voted for the $87 billion, before or after he voted against it. Kerry got one vote on the overall bill, and he voted against it — he wasn't a member of the sub-committee that sent it to the floor, so he didn't get a vote there. His rationale for the statement is just as inaccurate as the statement itself. He contends that he "actually did vote for the $87 billion" because he voted on 17 of the 27 amendments that had roll call votes. (He missed 10 votes campaigning, but left instructions to have how he would have voted if present read into the record.)
Reading Kerry's cast and intended votes, Kerry could have made a true statement about the supplemental bill if he had said, 'I would have voted for the supplemental if it was only $62 billion [S.Amdt. 1794 and S.Amdt. 1879], had no funds in it for reconstruction [S.Amdt. 1794 and S.Amdt. 1879], unless the UN has a "central role" and other countries send troops and money [S. Amdt. 1818]; prohibited any of the funds from going to Halliburton [S.Amdt. 1868]; required all reconstruction in Iraq to be paid for by Iraqi oil revenues without providing any funding to reconstruct the Iraqi oil production facilities [S.Amdt. 1826]; added $880 million to the Global AIDS Initiative [S.Amdt. 1879]; and the whole thing was paid for by raising the 35% tax rate however high it would need to go generate $87 billion, thus reaping an extra $15 billion in tax revenues [S.Amdt. 1796].'
Of course, it's probably just easier to lie and say, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it." Who's gonna know when you can just call it "nuanced?"
Sunday, October 03, 2004
That's News to the Multi-National Brigade (East)
Jonathan Alter has a whopper in his October 4, 2004, Newsweek column, "We're Dodging the Draft Issue." His premise is that if the US had to occupy another country, we would have to initiate a draft if Bush were president, but our allies would carry the weight of occupation if Kerry were elected.
The threshold question before the election is this: which candidate is more likely to have so few international friends amid a crisis that he would have to move beyond the all-volunteer force? This question takes the seemingly arcane issue of burden-sharing and brings it home to the American heartland. If we need, God forbid, to occupy another country that truly threatens the United States, we will either do it with the help of our allies or with the conscription of our kids.Alter poses a likely scenario of the US taking on Iran; but then, he crowns his main thesis with a falsehood (bold):
NEWSWEEK recently reported that American intelligence agencies have concluded after "war games" that pre-emptive strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities would not resolve the crisis without further military action. Iran would likely retaliate with terrorism in the United States, especially knowing that our forces are already stretched thin. We would then blast Iran, but the follow-up, as we learned in Iraq, would require ground troops.Maybe he'd like to tell that to the commander of the MBN(E), the Multi-National Brigade (East) of KFOR, NATO's Kosovo Force of peacekeepers. MNB(E) is under US command. The current rotation, which began September 1, 2004, of Task Force Falcon is:
As the crisis unfolded, we would approach our allies. If we had repaired our tattered relations with them and they felt the United States was again exercising sound judgment, they would join us to de-nuclearize and stabilize Iran. If they didn't, and we faced an occupation that would make Iraq look easy, we would unquestionably have to impose a draft. It doesn't take a nuclear scientist to figure out which presidential candidate this year would have a better chance of making a fresh start in securing the cooperation of our allies when the world erupts again, in Iraq, Iran, North Korea or anywhere else. Diplomacy works. Five years after Bill Clinton's war in Kosovo, 100 percent of the peacekeeping is handled by foreign troops.
Unit: Task Force FalconThere have been continuous US military deployments to KFOR since June of 1999. I'll also mention that US forces have supported SFOR, NATO's Stabilization Force in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Multi-National Division North, with continuous deployments since December 1995, as another of the peacekeeping tasks from the breakup of Yugoslavia.
Home Base: United States
Commander: Brigadier General Tod J. Carmony
HQ Location: Camp Bondsteel
Structure: The U.S. contingent is composed of the following units: