On Hannity's America, Sean Hannity asserted that Sen. Barack Obama was "bashing America" and "accus[ing] U.S. soldiers of killing innocent Afghani civilians" during a campaign appearance. In fact, accounts of civilian casualties resulting from U.S. air strikes in Afghanistan have been widely reported, and Obama expressed support for increasing the number of troops in Afghanistan so the U.S. military is not so reliant on air strikes in the region. Hannity has repeatedly mischaracterized Obama's comments on Afghanistan.
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On the August 19 edition of Fox News' Hannity's America, host Sean Hannity asserted that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) was "bashing America" and "accus[ing] U.S. soldiers of killing innocent Afghani civilians" during an August 13 campaign appearance in Nashua, New Hampshire. In fact, as the video, which Hannity aired, makes clear, Obama criticized the shortage of troops in Afghanistan, saying: "We've got to get the job done there [in Afghanistan] and that requires us to have enough troops so that we're not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there."
As Media Matters for America noted in response to Hannity's earlier mischaracterizations of Obama's comments, U.S. air strikes in Afghanistan -- and accounts of resulting civilian casualties -- have been widely reported in the media and have reportedly provoked criticism from Afghan President Hamid Karzai and a British commander stationed there. Additionally, as the Associated Press reported in a "Fact Check" responding to conservative attacks on Obama, "Western forces have been killing civilians at a faster rate than the insurgents." Further, in a July 7 article on NATO and U.S. air strikes reported to have killed more than 100 Afghan civilians, Reuters cited the assessment of military analysts that "a shortage of ground troops means commanders often turn to air power."
Following his assertions that Obama was "bashing America" and "accus[ing] soldiers of killing innocent Afghanis" during his August 13 remarks, Hannity asked: "Does that sound familiar?" and proceeded to air two audio clips featuring 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, the first taken from Kerry's 1971 testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the second taken from his interview on the December 4, 2005, broadcast of CBS' Face the Nation.
The first clip Hannity aired was of Kerry asserting, "They personally raped, cut off the ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human gentiles and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in the fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan," but Hannity did not note that Kerry, who testified in his capacity as spokesman for the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), stated at the time that he was relating the stories of other Vietnam veterans who came home and testified to their personal experiences in what was known as the Winter Soldier Investigation, which VVAW had commissioned a few months earlier in Detroit, Michigan. Kerry was not, as Hannity suggested, making his own judgments about the soldiers' conduct. Additionally, as Media Matters documented, in an August 3, 2004, appearance on Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, co-hosted by Hannity, retired Gen. Tommy Franks stated in response to Kerry's testimony, "I'm not sure that -- that activities like that didn't take place. In fact, quite the contrary. I'm sure that they did."
In the second clip, Hannity aired video of Kerry saying on the December 4, 2005, broadcast of Face the Nation, "There is no reason ... that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night terrorizing kids and children," but did not note that Kerry's comment regarding the sometimes abusive treatment of Iraqi civilians during American-led raids was supported by an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) report, a United States Institute of Peace (USIP) report, and news accounts detailing such raids, as Media Matters also documented.
From the August 19 edition of Fox News' Hannity's America:
HANNITY: Hi, everybody. Welcome to a new edition of Hannity's America. I'm Sean Hannity. We get right to our top story tonight. The far-left wing of the Democratic base has hijacked their own party and kicked centrism into the curb. Democratic presidential candidates are catering to this liberal extremism in an effort to appeal to primary voters. You will not believe some of the outrageous things that they have been saying. Let's take a look.
[begin video clip]
HANNITY: But some of the biggest Democratic victories last fall were by candidates who hardly fit the netroots mold. Jon Tester of Montana is hardly a left-winger, and the same can be said of Jim Webb in Virginia. Some people are even surprised that freshman Congressman Keith Schuler of North Carolina is a Democrat. For every netroot champion, like Ned Lamont -- well, maybe he's not the best example. For every far-left-winger who won, there's also a moderate. Just ask the tax-cutting Senator Claire McCaskill from Missouri or the pro-life Bob Casey Jr. from Pennsylvania.
In spite of all of that, the presidential candidates have decided they must pander to the pajama-wearing crowd. The most obvious example of this is with the war in Iraq. Like a parade of white flags, they get up in front of liberal audiences and tell the world that the war is lost.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY) [video clip]: It has to start with bringing our troops out of the civil war that is raging in Iraq.
OBAMA [video clip]: We have to begin a phased withdrawal, have our combat troops out by March 31st of next year.
FORMER SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC) [video clip]: We need to be bringing home our men and women from Iraq. That's what America needs to be doing.
HANNITY: But retreating is one thing; bashing America is another. Earlier this week, Barack Obama took the rhetoric to new heights when he accused U.S. soldiers of killing innocent Afghani civilians.
OBAMA [video clip]: We've got to get the job done there. And that requires us to have enough troops that we're not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous problems there.
HANNITY: Does that sound familiar?
KERRY [audio clip]: They had personally raped, cut off the ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in the fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan.
HANNITY: In case you thought that sort of left-wing rhetoric had gone the way of Senator Kerry's presidential campaign, think again.
KERRY [video clip]: There is no reason, Bob, that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night terrorizing kids and children.