Center for American Progress Action

The Debates: What President Bush Will Say … What You Should Know
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The Debates: What President Bush Will Say … What You Should Know

“There are a handful of people who are willing to kill in order to stop the process in Iraq.” (9/22/04)

FACT: The number of Iraqi insurgents has quadrupled over the past year. [Time, 9/20/04]

FACT: Insurgent attacks on U.S. forces are up 20 percent since the spring and 100 percent since last winter. Last month, attacks on U.S. troops averaged 90 a day, five times as many as last winter. [Brookings, 9/17/04]

FACT: “One by one,” Iraqi cities are becoming “no-go zones” controlled entirely by Bush’s “handful” of insurgents. [New York Times, 9/5/04]

FACT: “Over the past 30 days, more than 2,300 attacks by insurgents have been directed against civilians and military targets in Iraq, in a pattern that sprawls over nearly every major population center outside the Kurdish north.” [New York Times, 9/29/04]

“We’ve already spent more than a billion dollars on urgent reconstruction projects in areas threatened by the insurgency.” (9/23/04)

FACT: Congress has allocated $18.4 billion for desperately needed reconstruction in Iraq; ongoing instability coupled with inexperienced management means only $1 billion – or 5 percent — has been spent. Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) blamed this on “the incompetence in the administration.” [St. Louis Post Dispatch, 9/25/04; Boston Herald, 9/20/04]

FACT: Iraq’s largest source of electricity, the Baiji power plant, “produces less than half the electricity it generated” two years ago; the Bush administration “vastly underestimated the time, money and effort needed to restore the country’s power grid.” [LA Times, 9/12/04]

FACT: Less than 30 percent of reconstruction money in Iraq reaches Iraqis. The rest is going to security, U.S. government overhead, contractor profits, insurance, foreign workers’ salaries, corruption and mismanagement. [LA Times, 9/26/04]

FACT: The deterioration of water and sewage systems in the past year has led to the spread of a virulent form of hepatitis. In 2003, there were “70 percent more cases of hepatitis of all types reported across Iraq than in the year before.” The collapsed water system also led to outbreaks of typhoid fever. [New York Times, 9/24/04]

“Nearly 100,000 fully trained and equipped Iraqi soldiers, police officers and other security personnel are working today.” (9/25/04)

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.” [ABC News, 9/24/04]

FACT: On Sunday, 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]

“We gave [Saddam] a last chance; he ignored the last chance. And then I had a choice to make: take the word of a madman, forget the lessons of September the 11th, or do what’s necessary to defend this country.” (9/27/04)

FACT: Bush didn’t have to listen to the “words of a madman” to know Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction. In February 2001, the CIA delivered a report to the White House that said: “We do not have any direct evidence that Iraq has used the period since Desert Fox to reconstitute its weapons of mass destruction programs.” (CIA, 2001)

FACT: In February 2001, Secretary of State Colin Powell said Saddam Hussein “has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction.” (State Department, 2/24/01)

FACT: In 2002, the Defense Intelligence Agency submitted a report to the administration finding “no reliable information” to prove Iraq was producing or stockpiling chemical weapons. (DIA, 2002)

“[Sen. John Kerry] said his answer to why he voted the way he did, he said, I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.” (9/23/04)

FACT: John Kerry voted against the funding package because Bush didn’t provide a way to pay for it. His concerns have been proven well founded. This year, the nation’s deficit is expected be over $400 billion. The bill Kerry preferred would have simply passed the funding but offset it by rolling back tax cuts for those making over $200,000 a year. If Kerry’s position had prevailed, the troops would have still received full funding; the only difference is the nation would have done it in a fiscally responsible way. [Cox News, 4/11/04]

FACT: George Bush threatened to veto the $87 billion before he supported it. Bush said he would veto the bill if the money wasn’t provided in exactly the way he requested. Bush did the exact same thing that he is criticizing Kerry for doing. Bush argued for a particular set of requirements for how the money would be appropriated and was willing to oppose the funding package if he didn’t get his way. [CBS News, 11/30/03]

“Iraq is headed towards free elections…elections are going to be held in January.” (9/25/04)

FACT: Top officials and foreign leaders seem to disagree. Last week, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld admitted the violence in some parts of the country was so bad that the election may have to be held “in three-quarters or four-fifths of the country.” [Washington Post, 9/23/04]

FACT: Jordan’s King Abdullah recently said the “chaos currently reigning in Iraq” would make it “impossible to organize indisputable elections.” [CNN, 9/28/04]

FACT: “Leading Shi’ite Muslim cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has expressed concern that Iraq has not yet met conditions for fair elections in January.” [Reuters, 9/28/04]

“[Because of the war in Iraq], Americans and the world are safer.” (9/27/04)

FACT: America is less safe because of the war in Iraq: for a fraction of the $150 billion America has spent in Iraq, we could have secured vulnerable ports, railways and airports from terrorist attack. [Opportunity Cost of War]

FACT: U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan publicly disagreed with Bush in July, saying, “No, I cannot say the world is safer today than it was two, three years ago.” [Seattle Times, 7/22/04]

FACT: The world is less safe because of the war in Iraq: The occupation of Iraq has helped al Qaeda recruit more members, and turned Iraq into a “dynamic new battle ground” for al Qaeda. [BBC, 5/25/04; British House of Commons Report, 7/21/04]

FACT: The war had galvanized terrorists against America and the West. The LA Times reports Iraq has emerged as a “rallying point for a seemingly endless supply of young extremists willing to die in a jihad, or holy war.” [LA Times, 9/28/04]

FACT: “Among national-security professionals…one view prevails: [the war] has increased the threats America faces, and has reduced the military, financial, and diplomatic tools with which we can respond.” [Atlantic Monthly, 10/04]

“In order to have credibility with those people who are fighting for freedom, the leaders of this country must not send mixed signals.” (9/24/04)

FACT: Bush sent mixed signals through his ambivalent approach to Fallujah. Marine Commander Lt. Gen. James T. Conway said, “When you order elements of a Marine division to attack a city, you really need to…not vacillate in the middle of something like that. Once you commit, you have to stay committed.” [CNN, 9/14/04]

“[The] Taliban no longer is in existence.” (9/27/04)

FACT: The Taliban have been making a steady comeback since the U.S.-led coalition removed their government from Afghanistan in 2001. The Afghan death toll attributed to the Taliban rose by 45 percent this year. More than forty election workers have been killed or wounded in the past four months. [WSJ, 7/14/04; New York Times, 8/24/04; NPR, 8/3/04]

“Today in Afghanistan…10 million people have registered to vote.” (9/23/04)

FACT: Election officials in the country have acknowledged the number of voting cards issued in Afghanistan has “far exceeded the estimated number of eligible voters” and that voter fraud is rampant. A new report by Human Rights Watch this week states the number of registered voters is probably much, much lower than the 10 million President Bush cites. According to the United Nations, there are only 9.8 million total eligible voters, many areas of the country are still too dangerous to register. [Toronto Star, 8/14/04; Human Rights Watch, 9/28/04]

FACT: Fourteen Afghan presidential candidates met last week in Kabul to air complaints about U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad’s interference in elections scheduled for October. [Los Angeles Times, 9/23/03]

“You cannot lead when people don’t know where you stand.” (9/27/04)

FACT: Bush has flip-flopped on at least thirty major policy issues since the beginning of his presidency. [Center for American Progress, 9/2/04]

“We’re determined to prevent proliferation.” (9/21/04)

FACT: President Bush threatened Iranian hardliners rhetorically by naming Iran part of the Axis of Evil in his 2002 State of the Union address; the White House then did nothing to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. At a military parade earlier this week, the Iranian president announced the country would openly defy the U.N. nuclear agency. The Iranian government announced “that it had begun converting tons of uranium into gas, a crucial step in making fuel for a nuclear reactor or a nuclear bomb.” [National Journal, 6/29/04; New York Times, 9/22/04]

FACT: Under Bush’s watch, North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is thought to have quadrupled. Charles Pritchard, formerly Colin Powell’s top official dealing with North Korea, has warned for months that “the White House lacks an effective strategy to dissuade North Korea from building up its nuclear arms.” And, according to Pritchard, the situation has deteriorated because “the administration has neither offered much of a carrot nor wielded a stick.” [New York Times, 5/7/04]

FACT: According to a recent Harvard University report titled “Securing the Bomb: An Agenda for Action,” “less fissile materials were secured in the two years after Sept 11 than in the two years before.” [Harvard study, “Securing the Bomb“]