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“I always say what I mean,” Joe Biden said Thursday.
The notoriously gaffe-prone train enthusiast and current vice president of the United States made a number of factually inaccurate statements during last night’s debate.
1. The Obama administration “did not know” the Libyan embassy had requested additional security prior to the terrorist attack that killed four Americans
“We weren’t told they wanted more security there,” Biden said in response to a charge from Republican opponent Paul Ryan. “We did not know they wanted more security.”
The vice president’s statement stands in direct contrast to sworn testimony from State Department officials during a congressional hearing earlier this week.
Two security officials working in Libya at the time told members of Congress they repeatedly requested additional security prior to the attack out of concern for their safety, but were denied.
“All of us at post were in sync that we wanted these resources,” said Eric Nordstrom, the former head of regional security in Libya.
“We felt great frustration that those requests were ignored or just never met,” lamented Lt. Col. Andrew Wood, a Utah National Guardsman who led a security team in Libya.
State Department officials have confirmed that repeated security requests were made and subsequently denied.
Nordstrom said he believed the requests were not approved “because there would be too much political cost.”
The White House now claims Biden only meant that neither he nor President Obama was personally informed of the security requests, but press secretary Jay Carney on Friday awkwardly declined to say whether or not they ever were briefed on the matter.
2. Ryan and House Republicans “cut” embassy security by $300 million
The House Republican budget, which Ryan authored, proposed spending about $22 billion less on non-defense discretionary spending in 2014 compared with Obama’s budget, or about 0.63 percent of the federal budget for that year.
Budgets do not typically identify specific cuts, as those are determined by congressional appropriations committees. However, Democrats have extrapolated that $300 million of the $22 billion would be cut from embassy construction, maintenance, and security.
That is not necessarily true, however. And it is certainly not true that Republicans have “cut” the embassy funding—because the Ryan budget was never enacted.
A senior State Department official who testified before Congress earlier this week said budget considerations were not a factor in the decision to deny the U.S. Libyan delegation’s repeated requests for additional security.
3. The Obama administration has “decimated” al Qaeda
“We decimated al Qaeda central,” Biden said, echoing a popular Obama campaign talking point.
Intelligence reports and other sources, however, have indicated that the Islamic terrorist network responsible for the 9-11 attacks is actually on the rise throughout the greater Middle East and elsewhere.
The Free Beacon‘s Bill Gertz recently reported on an internal Pentagon report describing the terrorist group’s resurgence.
Most recently, an al Qaeda offshoot has been credited with carrying out the deadly attack in Libya that claimed the life of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and several other Americans.
“Al Qaeda is, unfortunately, alive and well in the Maghreb, Yemen, and elsewhere, as the administration will probably admit after the election,” former National Security Council member Elliott Abrams told the Washington Free Beacon earlier this week. “The claim that the organization was rendered toothless after [Osama bin Laden] was killed is simply not accurate, and every terrorism specialist in our government knows that.”
Lara Logan, chief foreign correspondent for CBS News, recently described the Obama administration’s declaration of victory in the war on terror a “major lie.”
4. Obama doesn’t want to raise taxes on families and small businesses earning less than $1 million a year.
“The middle class will pay less and people making a million dollars or more will begin to contribute slightly more,” Biden said of President Obama’s tax plan.
“We can’t afford $800 billion going to people who [are] making a minimum of $1 million,” he added.
President Obama has often stated his desire to raise taxes on all individuals and small businesses earning at least $200,000 a year, a proposal he included in his most recent budget resolution. Doing so is estimated to raise about $800 billion in new revenue over the next decade.
“Biden appeared to have moved the goal posts,” wrote Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post’s in-house fact-checker.
Raising tax rates on incomes above $1 million only, which some Democrats have proposed, would raise just $463 billion, or about half the figure Biden cited.
White House press secretary Jay Carney on Friday was forced to disavow Biden’s inaccurate portrayal of the president’s tax plan.
5. Syria is five times the size of Libya
“[Syria] is a different country, it is five times as large [as Libya] geographically,” Biden said.
This claim is literally false.
Libya has a geographic area of 1.76 million square kilometers, according to the Central Intelligence Agency. Syria has a geographic area of 185,180 square kilometers.
Libya is 9.5 times larger than Syria geographically.
6. Obama has ordered all American troops out of Afghanistan by 2014
“We are leaving [Afghanistan] in 2014. Period,” Biden said Thursday.
However, the administration has discussed maintaining an “enduring presence”—in the words of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta—in Afghanistan beyond 2104. That would likely consist of somewhere between 10,000 to 15,000 military advisers and special forces troops, contingent on an agreement with the government of Afghanistan.
7.The federal government is not forcing Catholic institutions to cover contraception
“With regard to the assault on the Catholic church, let me make it absolutely clear, no religious institution, Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic Social Services, Georgetown Hospital, Mercy Hospital, any hospital, none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact,” Biden said.
Yet 35 lawsuits against the HHS mandate, which forces insurance companies to cover contraception for free, are pending right now, including many from Catholic universities. The Becket Fund pointed out this fact in an email this morning objecting to the Vice President’s comments.
After an initial uproar against the Health and Human Services mandate requiring institutions to pay for insurance coverage of contraception, the Obama administration announced that “the cost would be shifted to health insurance companies,” reported the New York Times.
However, this concession has not placated religious groups, who argue that the rule violates the first amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom.
8. Biden voted against the Iraq and Afghanistan wars
The vice president said economic crisis of 2008 happened in part because of Paul Ryan “voting to put two wars on a credit card.”
“I was there, I voted against them,” Biden continued. “I said, no, we can’t afford that.”
Then-Sen. Biden voted for the Afghanistan resolution on Sept. 14, 2001, authorizing “the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States.”
And on Oct. 11, 2002, Biden voted for a resolution authorizing unilateral military action in Iraq.
Biden did, however, vote against the First Gulf War to repel the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, arguing that the U.S. had no “vital interests” in the region.