Sunday, November 19, 2017
Politics

PunditFact: Fact-checking Dick Cheney, Donna Brazile on June 22 news shows

RECOMMENDED READING


Former Vice President Dick Cheney slammed the foreign policy of President Barack Obama on Sunday, saying the United States is less safe because of what he termed Obama's indifference in the Middle East.

"I don't intend any disrespect for the president, but I fundamentally disagree with him," Cheney said on ABC's This Week. "I think he's dead wrong in terms of the course he's taken this nation, and I think we're in for big trouble in the years ahead because of his refusal to recognize reality and because of his continual emphasis upon getting the U.S. basically to withdraw from that part of the world."

While the rise of ISIS in Iraq presents a current crisis, Cheney said the issues are broader and more fundamental.

"We've got a much bigger problem than just the current crisis in Iraq. The Rand Corp. was out in the last week with a report that showed that there's been a 58 percent increase in the number of groups like al-Qaida, Salafi jihadists, and it stretches from West Africa all across North Africa, East Africa through the Middle East all the way around to Indonesia — a doubling of the number of terrorists out there," Cheney said.

PunditFact was curious about the statistic that the number of terrorists has doubled.

It checks out.

Cheney's claim is nearly verbatim the findings of a report released June 2014 and prepared for the secretary of defense by the Rand Corp., a nonpartisan think tank whose work is cited by Democrats and Republicans. The report focused on Salafi-jihadist groups, which are a specific category of militant Sunni Islamists marked by their emphasis on reclaiming a "pure" Islam and the belief that violent jihad is required as part of religious duty. The report focused on these groups because most deem the United States an enemy and are willing to kill civilians on a large scale.

The number of Salafi-jihadist groups (al-Qaida, its affiliates, other violent Islamists) jumped 58 percent, as Cheney said, from 31 groups in 2010 to 49 in 2013, Rand found.

Figuring out how many jihadist fighters that amounts to is tricky, as the groups don't report their membership and their numbers can fluctuate. Still, the report says the population of fighters more than doubled between 2010 and 2013 looking at estimates both low (under 20,000 fighters to more than 40,000) and high (about 50,000 to more than 100,000).

Either way, Cheney is right on the numbers. We rate his claim True.

Aside from foreign policy, the other big story Sunday was the latest in the investigation of the Internal Revenue Service and claims that it targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.

Last week, Republicans in Congress grilled IRS Commissioner John Koskinen about emails lost on the computer of ex-IRS official Lois Lerner, one of the people at the center of the controversy. The missing emails, the result of a computer hard drive crash, has led to more suggestions of a conspiracy to protect Obama's administration.

Democratic political strategist Donna Brazile tried to put the controversy in perspective on CNN's State of the Union, claiming that liberals and progressives were targeted right along with conservatives.

The IRS "also investigated liberal groups, groups that had progressive in their name. Groups that had Israel in their name. The IRS was basically looking at everybody."

This question was essentially answered last year by the treasury inspector general for tax administration, who investigated the IRS's handling of tax exempt requests between 2010 and 2012.

In March 2010, the IRS office began looking at the tax exempt status of tea party groups. Ten tea party cases were identified and sent to a Washington office for greater scrutiny.

In August 2010, a formal "Be on the Lookout" list was created instructing staff to flag applications of tea party groups. In June 2011, the list was expanded to include the words "patriot" and "9/12 project."

The investigation ultimately found the Cincinnati office used inappropriate criteria to single out certain cases. Over the course of two years, 298 total cases were sent to Washington for greater scrutiny. According to the investigation, 72 of those groups had the name "tea party," 13 had "patriot" and 11 had "9/12." The other 202 cases were listed as "other." In 160 of these cases, the application remained open between 206 and 1,138 days, while 108 were approved.

Democrats said 202 is a lot of "other." And later it came out that the word "progressive" was also used to flag applications on another IRS "Be on the Lookout" list.

Rep. Sandy Levin, D-Mich., the ranking member of the House Ways and Means committee asked Inspector General J. Russell George why he singled out all the mentions of conservative groups, but did not note in his investigation liberal groups were scrutinized as well.

George replied that the investigation wasn't only looking at which groups were flagged. Progressive groups were on a different lookout list that "did not include instructions on how to refer cases that met the criteria."

George also noted that while 16 groups with "progressive" in the name showed up among the 298 cases, that represented just 30 percent of all "progressive" applications. That is in stark contrast to groups with "tea party," "patriot," or "9/12" in their name, of which 100 percent saw their applications held up.

As such, Brazile's statement rates Half True.

Katie Sanders and Steve Contorno contributed to this story. Aaron Sharockman is the editor of PunditFact.com.

 
Comments
As clock ticks on tax bill, White House signals a compromise

As clock ticks on tax bill, White House signals a compromise

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, said Sunday that the White House is willing to remove a contentious provision taking aim at the Affordable Care Act from the GOP tax overhaul plan if politically necessary, a move ...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Many Christian conservatives are backing Alabama’s Roy Moore

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Alabama’s Christian conservatives see Roy Moore as their champion. He has battled federal judges and castigated liberals, big government, gun control, Muslims, homosexuality and anything else that doesn’t fit the evangelical mold. ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Senate ethics, relatively silent, could face busy year

Senate ethics, relatively silent, could face busy year

WASHINGTON — It’s been nearly six years since the Senate Ethics Committee conducted a major investigation of a sitting senator. Next year, the panel could be working nonstop, deciding the fate of up to three lawmakers, including two facing allegation...
Published: 11/18/17
Hillsborough seeks payback for ethics complaint but history shows that could be pricey

Hillsborough seeks payback for ethics complaint but history shows that could be pricey

TAMPA — Hillsborough County commissioners recently decided to go after the pocketbooks of several residents who filed unsuccessful ethics complaints against one of their colleagues.If history is any indicator, the maneuver is more likely to cost taxp...
Updated: 5 hours ago
In struggling upstate New York cities, refugees vital to rebirth

In struggling upstate New York cities, refugees vital to rebirth

UTICA, N.Y.Pat Marino pulled into the shop on a cold, wet Thursday and stood close as a young mechanic with gelled-up hair and earrings lifted the truck and ducked underneath."You need a little bit more oil," the mechanic said."Five quarts wasn’t eno...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/18/17
As sex scandals topple the powerful: Why not Trump?

As sex scandals topple the powerful: Why not Trump?

WASHINGTON — "You can do anything," Donald Trump once boasted, speaking of groping and kissing unsuspecting women. Maybe he could, but not everyone can. The man who openly bragged about grabbing women’s private parts — but denied he really did so — w...
Published: 11/17/17
Allegations against Alabama’s Roy Moore dividing GOP women

Allegations against Alabama’s Roy Moore dividing GOP women

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Standing on the white marble steps of Alabama’s Capitol, Kayla Moore surrounded herself with two dozen other women Friday to defend husband Roy Moore against accusations of sexual misconduct that are dividing Republicans, and women...
Published: 11/17/17
Franken apologizes to woman who says he kissed, groped her

Franken apologizes to woman who says he kissed, groped her

WASHINGTON — Minnesota Sen. Al Franken personally apologized to the woman who has accused him of forcibly kissing her and groping her during a 2006 USO tour, saying he remembers their encounter differently but is "ashamed that my actions ruined that ...
Published: 11/17/17
Negative mailers trace back to campaign of state House candidate who denies them

Negative mailers trace back to campaign of state House candidate who denies them

An 87-year-old widow from Melbourne, a mysterious direct mail company in tiny Buffalo, Wyo., and a tangled web of political committees all were linked to the onslaught of negative mailers that helped Lawrence McClure win the Republican primary in Pla...
Published: 11/17/17

10,000 more FBI records unsealed from JFK assassination files

DALLAS — Yet again, the National Archives released a trove of records from the Kennedy assassination files on a Friday afternoon, another strange stream of loose ends, dead ends and tangents with little apparent connection to the assassination of the...
Published: 11/17/17