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Friday, September 22, 2006

Facts not checked Falsely Claims Republicans Didn’t Vote Against Body Armor for Troops

Media Matters Analysis Shows ‘Vote Vet’ Ads are Truthful and Based on Verifiable Recorded Senate Votes

September 22, 2006 (Washington, DC)- In recent days, both The Arizona Republic editorial page and the website have both incorrectly attacked a television advertisement by the newly formed group Vote Vets criticizing Sen. George F. Allen (R-VA) for his April 2003 opposition to a Democratic amendment that would have increased U.S. National Guard funding for body armor as "deceitful" and "just plain wrong". However, A Media Matters analysis clearly shows that the ad in question is truthful and is based on entirely on verifiable, recorded Senate votes.

See our full analysis here:

Sen. Dodd Amendment to Increase Funding for Body Armor

On October 2, 2003, Allen and other Republicans voted against a Democratic amendment to the $87 billion emergency supplemental bill to increase the amount of funding devoted to body armor and battlefield clearance to ensure that both needs were met.

The Dodd amendment would have added $322 million to the $300 million the Senate Appropriations Committee had already attached to the underlying bill for small arms protection inserts (SAPI) body armor and battlefield cleanup. In his October 2, 2003, floor statement, he noted there was “not enough money in the bill to do both,” citing a September 26, 2003, report by the assistant Secretary of the Army for Financial Management and Comptroller that requested an additional $420 million for the battlefield cleanup alone.

Dodd repeatedly made that his intent in offering the amendment was to make certain that U.S. forces in Iraq were provided adequate body armor, which he described as a "top priorit[y]."

Sen. Landrieu’s Amendment to 03 Supplemental Approps Bill:

Near the end of the ad in question, a citation appears onscreen: "Vote #116, 108th Congress, 1st Session." This is the April 2, 2003, Senate roll call in which Republicans unanimously voted, 52-47, to table Landrieu's amendment to the fiscal year 2003 supplemental appropriations bill for the Iraq war.

The amendment offered by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) would have added a little more than $1 billion to the bill for the procurement of "National Guard and Reserve Equipment."

The Republic and FactCheck both conceded that Sen. Landrieu made clear in a press release that the $1 billion measure included funding for helmets and bulletproof vests. But both outlets have nonetheless argued that, because Landrieu did not specify "body armor" as a "priority" when discussing the legislation on the Senate floor, the assertion that Allen voted against body armor is "false" and "scandalous."

But Landrieu repeatedly stated on the floor that the bill would ensure that National Guard soldiers had "helmets" and other "force protection" equipment intended to "minimize causalities."

· In her March 20, 2003, floor statement introducing the measure, Landrieu repeatedly emphasized that the U.S. government was "underfunding our Guard and Reserve" and expressed shock at "the lack of equipment, the lack of money in this budget to fund their current operations." She added, "For too long, the Guard and Reserve have received hand-me-downs from the Active component. ... Let's give them their rifles, their helmets, and their tactical equipment so we can, as we know we will, win this war."

· In a March 26, 2003, press release, Landrieu further explained that the bill "targets shortfalls identified by the National Guard and Reserve in their Unfunded Requirement lists," including the "shortage of helmets, tents, bullet-proof inserts, and tactical vests":

· In her April 2, 2003, floor statement on the amendment, Landrieu said, "When we talk about force protection and minimizing casualties, you don't have to be an expert in warfare to understand one of the ways you can minimize casualties is to give your Guard and Reserve the best training and the best equipment.”

Excerpt from Dodd's Statement on the Senate floor:

DODD: According to the U.S. Army, the President's supplemental bill falls short of over $200 million for critical gear for our soldiers slated to rotate in Iraq and Afghanistan in the months ahead. This amendment was designed specifically to see to it that those U.S. troops coming into Iraq, into a theater of war, would receive important equipment they need to perform their missions effectively. This equipment includes important high-tech body armor, bullet-proof helmets, special water packs to keep soldiers hydrated, and other survival gear.


DODD: Now, in response to the Army's request, the committee added $300 million to the present supplemental request which could be used for either this additional equipment or the clearance of weapons and mines still lingering on Iraqi battlefields. It says it right here, in the Congressional Record, dated October 1, 2003, when the Supplemental Appropriations bill's accompanying report was printed. On page S12222, there is a chart detailing expenditures in the Army Operations and Maintenance account. $300 million is to be allocated for ``SAPI body armor/Rapid Fielding Initiative or battlefield cleanup.''

But the Army says it needs an additional $420 million just to handle the Iraqi battlefield clearance. As the pending legislation stands now, there is still not enough money in the bill to do both, and both items--more safety equipment and Iraqi battlefield clearance--are top Army priorities.


DODD: I think we need to address both of these issues. For those reasons, I have asked my colleagues to support this amendment to allocate an additional $322 million for the critical equipment of our troops and adequate resources for battlefield clearance to fully meet the Army's current requirements.


DODD: I don't want a soldier out there getting hurt because they don't have the right equipment. I didn't make this up. The Army didn't come to me specifically. They made this case on September 26, the source was a briefing provided to Congress' defense committees by the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Financial Management and Comptroller, entitled, ``FY04 Supplemental Request for the Global War on Terrorism: The Army At War.'' That is where it comes from. I appreciate what the committee did with $300 million. But the committee report says you have to make a choice: Clearing up the battlefield or provide funding for soldiers' equipment. And I don't think the Army ought to be put in that position. I don't think you ought to ask them to have to make that choice. That is the reason for the amendment.


The Vote Vets Ad

The television ad in question depicts Army reservist Pete Granato firing a gun at two mannequins -- one outfitted with a "vest left over from the Vietnam War" and the other wearing "modern body armor." Granato explains that the "difference is life or death" and demonstrates that while the new body armor stopped the bullets, the outdated equipment did not. He then holds up the modern vest and states, "Senator George Allen voted against giving our troops this. Now it's time for us to vote against him."

While the ad has not yet aired in Arizona, where incumbent Republican Sen. Jon Kyl is being challenged by Democrat Jim Pederson, the Republic wrote the editorial in apparent anticipation of its appearance, describing it as "a certifiable 'hit piece' campaign ad that is believed to target at least four Republican lawmakers up for re-election, including Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl."

AZ Republic Editorial

In a September 19 editorial, the Republic described the Vote Vets ad as "a certifiable 'hit piece' " and decried its "scandalous assertion" that Allen voted against providing modern body armor for U.S. troops.

But the Republic's criticism -- that Landrieu did not use the words "body armor" in her speech on the legislation -- does not undermine the ad's assertion that Allen voted against legislation that would have increased funding for "helmets" and "bullet-proof inserts," as the press release made clear. Further, it ignores the fact that Landrieu did refer in her floor statements to the need for "helmets" and other "force protection" equipment intended to "minimize causalities."

FactCheck.Org Analysis

In a September 21 post, FactCheck went further than the Republic editorial's criticism, incorrectly claiming that the Vote Vets ad "falsely accuses Republicans of voting against body armor for troops." In the first paragraph of the purported rebuttal, FactCheck unequivocally asserted that Landrieu's amendment "had nothing whatever to do with body armor":

posted by Steve @ 4:30:00 PM

4:30:00 PM

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