Fact checkers from a number of different establishment media operations crushed former Vice President Joe Biden this week as the issue of Iranian aggression continues to captivate the nation just weeks from the Iowa caucuses.
The shift to foreign policy in the national political debate has not been kind to Biden, who has been hammered by everyone from PolitiFact, to the Washington Post, to even CNN.
Just this week, three brutal fact checks came crushing down on Biden–whom Breitbart News and President Donald Trump’s campaign earlier this week exposed as regularly lying about foreign policy–on a number of different fronts.
First off, PolitiFact nailed the former vice president for embellishing claims about his role in former President Barack Obama’s decision to order the raid that killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in 2011.
In an exchange with Fox News’s Peter Doocy last week, Biden lied and claimed that he was supportive of Obama’s decision to send in the special forces team that killed bin Laden:
Doocy: “As commander in chief, if you were ever handed a piece of intelligence that said you can stop an imminent attack on Americans but you have to use an airstrike to take out a terror leader, would you pull the trigger?”
Biden: “Well, we did. Guy’s name was Osama bin Laden.”
Doocy: “Didn’t you tell President Obama not to go after bin Laden?”
Biden: “No, I didn’t. I didn’t.”
That was untrue, as Breitbart News and many other outlets have noted. Biden did oppose the raid, as he, Obama himself, then-White House press secretary Jay Carney, and several Obama Cabinet officials confirmed at the time.
PolitiFact’s Amy Sherman nailed Biden for this, writing in part:
In January 2012 at a Democratic congressional retreat, Biden recounted how Obama asked senior officials whether they should go ahead with the raid. Everyone in the room “hedged their bet” except CIA Director Leon Panetta, who said “go.”
“Mr. President, my suggestion is, don’t go,” Biden recounted. “‘We have to do two more things to see if he’s there.” (He did not explain what the two additional things were at the time.)
(When a reporter asked White House spokesman Jay Carney in 2012 about Biden’s comments stating he was against the raid, Carney said: “I know that he is speaking accurately.”)
In May 2012 on NBC’s Meet the Press, Biden said he told Obama “follow your instincts.”
“I wanted him to take one more day to do one more test to see if he was there,” Biden said.
Obama’s statement during a debate in 2012 supported the idea that Biden was critical about the raid proposal. Obama said that “even some in my own party, including my current vice president,” critiqued the proposed raid.
Sherman summarizes many other statements Biden himself, and others in the know, made about this matter at the time, and then rates Biden’s claim to Doocy as “mostly false.”
Fact-checking Biden for the same false claim on Wednesday, the Washington Post‘s fact checker Glenn Kessler noted that the former vice president is “to put it mildly… not the most disciplined speaker.”
He sometimes gets himself in trouble with flat declarations and evolving versions of the same story. His advice in 2011 to President Barack Obama on whether to risk an attack on the possible location of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is a case in point.
After laying out a number of conflicting statements from Biden over the years on this, as well as different statements and claims from Obama and others, Kessler concludes that Biden’s “story of his advice to Obama has evolved over time.”
“He now says he’s telling the full story, involving both a meeting of top advisers and a private conversation afterward with Obama,” Kessler wrote. He continued:
According to the various accounts of administration officials involved in the internal debate, Biden was one of the two main skeptics of the intelligence suggesting that bin Laden was in Abbottabad. He publicly even stated that he said ‘don’t go’ until more intelligence was gathered. So it’s certainly clear he advised Obama not to go at that moment when Obama’s advisers were debating the issue. No matter what he said to Obama privately, he cannot so easily argue that he did not offer this guidance.
Kessler then rated Biden’s lie with three Pinocchios, nearly the worst rating a lying politician can get from the Washington Post.
That’s not the only lie Biden has told in recent days on foreign policy. On Monday, CNN of all places dug deep into Biden’s recent claims that he opposed the Iraq war “from the beginning”–which are untrue, since Biden voted for it and said on the day then-President George W. Bush launched the war that he thinks Congress should be “supportive.”
CNN’s Daniel Dale exposed Biden’s comments as ones made “dishonestly” in a lengthy fact check of the former vice president, writing in part:
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden dishonestly suggested on Saturday that he had opposed the war in Iraq “from the very moment” it began in 2003 — even though Biden’s campaign said in September that he “misspoke” when he made a similar claim.
Biden was responding Saturday to a voter in Des Moines, Iowa, who told him, “I’m with you 90% of the way” but questioned his judgment in part because “you were for the second Gulf War, which was a mess.”
Biden said that “from the very moment” President George W. Bush launched his “shock and awe” military campaign, and “right after” that occurred, “I opposed what he was doing, and spoke to him.”
It’s false that Biden opposed the war from the moment Bush started it in March 2003. Biden repeatedly spoke in favor of the war both before and after it began.
Biden’s language on Saturday — saying he opposed “what he was doing” at the moment the war commenced — was more vague than his language in September, when he flatly said he had opposed “the war” at that moment. But the new version was highly misleading even under the most generous interpretation.
Dale even quoted a CNN interview Biden gave in 2003, after Bush invaded Iraq, during which Biden said in part that he was “supportive” of Bush’s war in Iraq, as he and many others in Congress voted to give him the authority to do so.
“We have one single focus,” Biden said in that March 19, 2003, interview, which was conducted the day the war started. “And that is, we’re about to send our women and men to war. The president is the commander-in-chief. We voted to give him the authority to wage that war. We should step back and be supportive.”