Bush Campaign Lies

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Bush Campaign Lie #62: John Kerry Suggested that All Soldiers in Iraq Were Responsible for Abu Ghraib Abuses 

According to the Washington Post, on May 12, Bush campaign chair Marc Racicot told reporters in a conference call that Kerry had suggested that all 150,000 soldiers in Iraq were 'somehow universally responsible' for the torture at Abu Ghraib. The Post follows up by noting that this charge simply isn't true:

Racicot, for instance, told reporters that Kerry suggested that 150,000 or so U.S. troops are "somehow universally responsible" for the misdeeds of a small number of American soldiers and contractors. Racicot made several variations of this charge. But Kerry never said this, or anything like it.

As evidence, Racicot pointed to the following quote Kerry made at a fundraiser on Tuesday: "What has happened is not just something that a few a privates or corporals or sergeants engaged in. This is something that comes out of an attitude about the rights of prisoners of war, it's an attitude that comes out of America's overall arrogance in its policy that is alienating countries all around the world."

What Racicot did not mention was that Kerry preceded this remark by saying, "I know that what happened over there is not the behavior of 99.9 percent of our troops."
The Post has been quite thorough. They report Racicot's original statement and his justification, and then they point out that Racicot was intentionally quoting Kerry out of context. It would seem our work here is done.

Only there's more. A more recent Post story ticks off a long litany of wrong or misleading statements by the Bush campaign; a litany which the Bush folks cannot afford to ignore. And the Post brings up Racicot's lie one more time:

Earlier this month, Bush-Cheney Chairman Marc Racicot told reporters in a conference call that Kerry suggested in a speech that 150,000 U.S. troops are "universally responsible" for the misdeeds of a few soldiers at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison -- a statement the candidate never made. In that one call, Racicot made at least three variations of this claim and the campaign cut off a reporter who challenged him on it.
The Bush folks presented a lengthy rebuttal to the Post's charges. When they attempted to rebut this particular charge, what did they resort to? For one thing, they never denied that Racicot made the statement, so we may conclude that he actually did. Instead, they charged that Kerry was politicizing the scandal and as proof they presented --- the same out-of-context Kerry quote which the Post debunked on May 13. So this should really polish off this lie.

But there's still more, because the Bush folks are using this distorted quote as proof that Kerry is politicizing Abu Ghraib. As further evidence, they cite the fact that the Kerry campaign sent out at least two emails asking supporters to sign a petition calling for Rumsfeld's resignation --- and asking for contributions to Kerry's campaign. The support for this charge comes from the notoriously partisan Washington Times. But even the Times article includes the DNC's response stating the obvious:

Mr. Cabrera and Mr. McAuliffe said the Kerry campaign's request for donations is "a standard contribution link" that appears throughout the RNC and DNC Web sites, even on Web pages dealing with the war on terror.
This is a point which should be obvious to anyone who gives it two seconds' thought: every mass email from the Kerry campaign or the DNC (and from the Bush campaign and the RNC too, I would guess) is written in a standard template which carries a 'Donate' link. The fact that such a thing appeared on emails dealing with Abu Ghraib is neither surprising nor indicative of any impropriety.

But let's be honest for a minute. It's an election year. The DNC and the Kerry campaign exist to make their guy look good, and to make Bush look bad, just like the RNC and Bush campaign exist to make Bush look good and Kerry look bad. Whenever something goes wrong for Bush, of course the DNC and Kerry campaign will emphasize it, and of course they're doing it to help their candidate. This is all just a game. The Kerry camp will deny that they are trying to gain politically by emphasizing the scandal, even though they really are. The Bush camp will act horrified that Kerry would do such a thing, even though they would behave exactly the same way --- if not worse --- if the tables were turned. No one is pure in this.

But consider this. The worst thing the Kerry folks did was to use their standard email template in sending out a plea to oust Rumsfeld. The worst thing the Bush folks did was to repeatedly distort one of Kerry's statements in order to support their lie that Kerry was politicizing Abu Ghraib and holding all of our troops responsible for it. That's a significant difference.

10:18 PM