CBS' Schieffer let Cheney falsely claim Reid is "adamantly opposed to any funding for the troops"

››› ››› ROB DIETZ

On Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer did not challenge Vice President Dick Cheney's false claim that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid "now has said he's adamantly opposed to any funding for the troops." In fact, Reid voted for the supplemental funding bill that the Senate passed March 29.

On the April 15 edition of CBS' Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer left unchallenged Vice President Dick Cheney's false claim that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) "now has said he's adamantly opposed to any funding for the troops." Cheney was apparently referring to Reid's proposal to cut off funding for the Iraq war in 2008 if President Bush vetoes the emergency supplemental funding bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which Bush has vowed to do as long as it contains a timetable for withdrawal. But Schieffer did not note that Reid voted for the supplemental funding bill that the Senate passed March 29, or that Reid's proposal would continue funding for the troops until March 31, 2008.

Contrary to Cheney's claim that Reid is "adamantly opposed" to funding the troops, as Media Matters for America has noted, both Democratic-led houses of Congress have passed legislation providing funding for the troops in the field. The Senate and House are expected to reconcile the bills in conference and send a final version to the president. Regarding the separate bill offered by Reid, the Associated Press reported that "Reid's latest proposal would give the president one year to get troops out, ending funding for combat operations after March 31, 2008." Since announcing his proposal, Reid has specifically stated that "Democrats are determined to make sure the troops have the funds they need."

Later in the program, Schieffer asked about Cheney's claim in May 2005 to CNN's Larry King that the Iraqi insurgency was in its "last throes," but failed to challenge Cheney's response that this remark "was geared specifically to the fact that we'd just had an election in Iraq where some 12 million people defied the car bombers and the assassins and for the first time participated in a free election." In fact, as the weblog Think Progress noted in June 2006 -- when Cheney also claimed that his "last throes" remark was meant to refer to political progress -- Cheney told King that "the level of activity that we see today, from a military standpoint, I think will clearly decline." Cheney went on to mention that "lead terrorist" Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had been injured and suggested that this was a sign that "we're making major progress."

From the May 30, 2005, edition of CNN's Larry King Live:

KING: When do we leave?

CHENEY: We'll leave as soon as the task is over with. We haven't set a deadline or a date. It depends upon conditions. We have to achieve our objectives, complete the mission. And the two main requirements are, the Iraqis in a position to be able to govern themselves, and they're well on their way to doing that, and the other is able to defend themselves, and they're well on their way to doing that. They just announced that in the last day or two here, there've been stories about a major movement of some 40,000 Iraqi troops into Baghdad to focus specifically on the problem there.

KING: You expect it in your administration?

CHENEY: I do.

KING: To be removed. It's not going to be -- it's not going to be a 10-year event?

CHENEY: No. I think we may well have some kind of presence there over a period of time. But I think the level of activity that we see today, from a military standpoint, I think will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency. We've had reporting in recent days, Larry, about Zarqawi, who's sort of the lead terrorist, outside terrorist, Al Qaeda, head of Al Qaeda for Iraq, may well have been seriously injured. We don't know. We can't confirm that. We've had reporting to that effect.

So I think we're making major progress. And, unfortunately, as I say, it does involve sending young Americans in harm's way. But America will be safer in the long run when Iraq and Afghanistan as well are no longer safe havens for terrorists or places where people can gather and plan and organize attacks against the United States.

From the April 15 edition of CBS' Face the Nation:

CHENEY: Some of the leadership on the other side has suggested they won't pass any bill at all, or Harry Reid now has said he's adamantly opposed to any funding for the troops. On the other hand, [Sen.] Carl Levin [D-MI], who's chairman of the Armed Services Committee, has indicated that they definitely do want to pass funding for the troops even if they don't have the votes to override the president's veto on the limitation provisions and on the pork that's in the bill.

SCHIEFFER: I guess what struck me, though, about your speech was -- I mean, you started out by calling these congressional leaders irresponsible, and I wonder how does that stay -- set the stage for productive talks?

CHENEY: Well, I think it's important they know where we stand. And the fact of the matter is, I do believe that the positions that the Democratic leaders have taken, and to a large extent, now, are irresponsible. I mean, Harry Reid last fall said -- this is after the November elections -- that he would not support an effort to cut off funding for the troops. Then he changed that position to one in which he would support an effort to cut off funding for the troops, place limitations on the funding. And now he's to the point where he's saying he's going to support legislation that cuts the whole funding for the troops. He's done a complete 180 from where he was in five months.

I think that is irresponsible. I think you cannot make the basic, fundamental decisions that have to be made with respect to the nation's security, given everything that's at stake in the war on terror, and what we're doing in Iraq, and with the 140,000 American troops in the field in Iraq in combat every day, and call that kind of rapid changes in position anything other than irresponsible.

[...]

SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you, because it leads me to this question, Mr. Vice President, you have throughout this war been optimistic about how things were going. Two years ago, you told Larry King, "I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."

What did you base that on at that time? Because there were many people had a totally different view of what was happening and it, you know, it brings us down to where we are now. And, I mean, why should people believe you now when so many times, in the past, the statements from this administration have proved to be incorrect?

CHENEY: Well, partly we have to respond to questions from the press, and we do the best we can with what we know at the time. My statement at the time that you referenced was geared specifically to the fact that we'd just had an election in Iraq where some 12 million people defied the car bombers and the assassins and for the first time participated in a free election. And we had three elections in 2005 in Iraq. We set up a provisional government, then we had a ratification of a brand new constitution, and then elections under that constitution of the new government, a new government that's in place now. I still think, in the broad sweep of history, those will have been major turning points in the war in Iraq.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, Defense Funding
Network/Outlet
CBS
Person
Bob Schieffer
Show/Publication
Face the Nation
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