Bush Campaign Lies

Friday, February 27, 2004

Bush Campaign Lie #3: John Kerry has a Record of Voting Against the Weapons Systems that are Winning the War on Terror 

In an open letter to John Kerry dated February 22, Bush campaign chair Marc Racicot reels off a list of specific weapons systems and intelligence spending which he says Kerry voted against. I've broken his statement down into numbered items to clarify the discussion below.

  1. Your proposal to cut intelligence spending by $1.5 billion for the five years prior to 2001 (S. 1290, Introduced 9/29/95),
  2. Your 1996 proposal to cut defense spending by $6.5 billion (S. 1580, Introduced 2/29/96), and your support for canceling or cutting funding for
  3. The B-2 Stealth Bomber,
  4. The B-1B,
  5. The F-15,
  6. The F-16,
  7. The M1 Abrams,
  8. The Patriot Missile,
  9. The AH-64 Apache Helicopter,
  10. The Tomahawk Cruise Missile,
  11. And the Aegis Air-Defense Cruiser.
Although this seems like an extensive litany of Kerry obstructionism, the GOP got most of the items on that list from just three of Kerry's votes. In none of these instances did Kerry specifically vote against any weapons system. Rather, he voted against bills of which those weapons systems were a very small part. For example, all items marked in green were included in the Fiscal Year 1991 Defense Appropriations Act, which 5 Republicans and 10 other Democrats also voted against. It may be appropriate to ask why Kerry voted against the defense appropriations bill in 1991, but it's completely dishonest to cite that single vote in support of a claim that Kerry voted against eight different weapons systems. In fact, it's a lie.

In the case of the AH-64 Apache helicopter (item 9), what Kerry really voted against was a conference committee report, which apparently included funding for the helicopter.

As for Racicot's charge about Kerry's 1996 "proposal to cut defense spending by $6.5 billion" (item 2), that's true. Kerry introduced legislation which asked the Secretary of Defense to cut $6.5 billion from programs for which the president had not specifically requested funding, and use the money 'to provide funding for community-oriented policing', more commonly known as the COPS program. Kerry's bill died in committee.

Finally, there's Racicot's first charge, that Kerry proposed to cut intelligence spending by $1.5 billion for the five years prior to 2001. This charge is true, but misleading. In September 1995, the New York Times broke a story about massive fraud at the National Reconnaissance Office. Four days later, Kerry introduced a deficit-reduction bill, and it seems likely that the $1.5 billion cut was targeting the fraud in the intelligence agencies, not the agencies themselves. The whole story is a bit complicated; my brother-in-arms edwardpig examines it in sickening detail.

Fred Kaplan at Slate also debunks this lie, with a slightly different explanation of item (1).

1:48 PM