Democratic National Committee: John McCain's Katrina Deception Reveals Pattern of...

Wed Jun 4, 2008 4:24pm EDT

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Democratic National Committee: John McCain's Katrina Deception Reveals Pattern
of Distortions

WASHINGTON, June 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- During his media availability in
Baton Rouge today, John McCain told reporters that he "supported every
investigation" into what went wrong during Hurricane Katrina. Unfortunately
for the people of Louisiana, that is just not true.  John McCain voted TWICE
to oppose a Congressional commission to examine the federal, state, and local
response to the disaster: once in September 2005 and again in February 2006.


McCain's outright deception today is the latest in a string of misstatements
and distortions on key issues that call into question his willingness to
mislead the American people, telling them what he thinks they want to hear
instead of the truth. Just last week, John McCain falsely claimed that our
forces in Iraq had drawn down to pre-surge levels, then used a defense that
was so misleading, one fact checker called it "an insult to our intelligence."
 He falsely claimed Iran was training al-Qaida in Iraq, claimed he could walk
peacefully through a Baghdad market despite requiring a massive security
escort, and denied he had ever said he didn't understand the economy -- all of
which have proven inaccurate.

"John McCain seems perfectly comfortable misleading the American people rather
than telling them the truth," said Democratic National Committee
Communications Director Karen Finney.  "By refusing to admit that he voted
against the creation of a Katrina Commission today in Baton Rouge, John McCain
once again demonstrated a willingness to mislead Americans. After voting with
President Bush 95 percent of the time and promising more of the same failed
Bush leadership, it is no surprise that John McCain is promising more of
George Bush's culture of deception and distortion. In recent days the American
people have been reminded about the painful consequences of the Bush
Administration's misleading propaganda, particularly in the run up to the war
in Iraq. John McCain's refusal to tell the truth about his record is one more
reason he is the wrong choice for America's future."


ON A KATRINA COMMISSION: "I have supported every investigation and ways to
find out what caused the tragedy." [Media Availability, Baton Rouge (LA),
6/4/08:  HYPERLINK ""]

    --  McCain Voted Against Establishing A Commission To Study The Response
        Hurricane Katrina...TWICE. McCain voted against amendments
        a Congressional commission to examine Federal, State, and local
        to devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in U.S. Gulf Region,
        especially in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and other areas
        in the aftermath; and makes immediate corrective measures to improve
        future responses. [2006 Senate Vote #6, 2/2/2006; 2005 Senate Vote

ON IRAQ TROOP LEVELS:  "So I can tell you that it is succeeding. I can look
you in the eye and tell you it's succeeding. We have drawn down to pre-surge
levels." [Wisconsin Town Hall, 5/29/08:]

    --  Combat Units Sent As Part of the Surge Will Not Be Removed Until End
        July. "The increased U.S. presence in Iraq -- which topped out at
        about 170,000 troops -- is expected to go down to 140,000 by the end
        July. U.S. officials plan to keep 15 combat brigades in Iraq through
        end of the year, though ongoing assessments could allow commanders to
        change those numbers." [Washington Post, 5/20/08]
    --  Even after planned withdrawal, Troops Won't Reach Pre-Surge Levels.
        "McCain said Thursday that the troop surge President Bush put in
        place last year was working. As evidence, McCain contended that there
        were fewer US troops in the country today than there were before the
        surge began. 'We have drawn down to pre-surge levels,' he
        said. But according to Pentagon figures, that's not true. Currently
        there are more than 150,000 troops in the country; before the surge,
        there were more than 130,000. Even after planned withdrawals over the
        next two months, there will still be 140,000 American troops
        there." [Boston Globe, Political Intelligence blog, 5/30/08:
    --  McCain Defense "An Insult to Our Intelligence."  McCain
        insists that he did not make a mistake, in verb tenses or any other
        "I said we had drawn down," he told reporters today. "I
        said we have drawn down and we have drawn down three of the five
        brigades. We have drawn down three of the five brigades. We have drawn
        down the marines. The rest will be home the end of July. That's
        just facts, the facts as I stated them.  For the record, those are NOT
        the facts as he "stated them." What he said was that U.S.
        forces had "drawn down to pre-surge levels."...Prior to the
        conference call, I was inclined to give McCain a maximum of two
        Pinocchios for his misstatement about troop levels in Iraq. Everybody
        misspeaks once in a while. But the attempt by the McCain media machine
        to spin the mistake as a simple matter of "verb tenses" is an
        insult to our intelligence. [Washington Post Fact Checker blog,

ON IRAN TRAINING AL-QAIDA FIGHTERS: McCain Claimed Iran Was Training Al-Queda
Operatives (And Stuck By His Claim After Correcting Himself)

    --  March 17, 2008:  McCain said, "As you know, there are al-Qaeda
        operatives that are taken back into Iran, given training as leaders,
        they're moving back into Iraq." [New York Times, 3/19/08;
        Entire Transcript at
    --  March 18, 2008:  "'We continue to be concerned about Iranian
        [operatives] taking al-Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them
        back,' he said in comments after meeting with Jordan's King
        Abdullah II on Tuesday afternoon. Pressed to elaborate, McCain said it
        is 'common knowledge and has been reported in the media that
        al-Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming
        back into Iraq from Iran; that's well known. And it's
        unfortunate.' A few moments later, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman
        (I-Conn.), standing just behind McCain, stepped forward and whispered
        his ear. McCain then said, 'I'm sorry, the Iranians are
        training extremists, not al-Qaeda.'" [Washington Post,
    --  March 19, 2008:  In a statement on the fifth anniversary of the U.S.
        invasion of Iraq, McCain said "Al Qaeda and Shia extremists -- with
        support from external powers such as Iran -- are on the run but not
        defeated." [McCain Presidential Campaign Press Release via Targeted
        News Service, 3/19/08]
    --  McCain Is Wrong: Iran Is Not Training Al Qaeda. "Mr. McCain said
        several times during his visit to Jordan - during a news conference
        a radio interview -- that he was concerned that Iran was training
        members of Al Qaeda in Iraq. The United States believes that Iran, a
        Shiite country, has been training and financing Shiite extremists in
        Iraq, but not Al Qaeda, which is a Sunni insurgent group...Mr. McCain
        has based his campaign in large part on his assertion that he is the
        best prepared candidate to deal with Iraq." [New York Times,

ON THE BAGHDAD MARKET: McCain Claimed He Could Safely Walk Around Certain
Baghdad Neighborhoods.  "McCain's latest problem began before he left for the
region, when he told Bill Bennett on the radio that 'there are neighborhoods
in Baghdad where you and I could walk today.' After Michael Ware of CNN's
Baghdad bureau accused the senator of living in 'Neverland,' McCain charged
that it's reporters who are living in a 'time warp of three months ago.'" 
[Newsweek, 4/16/2007]

    --  McCain Was Forced to Admit He "Misspoke" When He Failed to
        Mention His Massive Security During Baghdad Market Trip.  "Wearing
        a bulletproof vest and surrounded by 100 soldiers in Baghdad's
        central market, McCain said: 'Never have I been able to go out into
        the city as I was today.' Headlines soon after called his
        statements 'propaganda' and a 'magic-carpet
        ride.'"  An op-ed in the Rocky Mountain News called
        McCain's staged walk through a Baghdad market "a truly
        Orwellian publicity stunt," that was turned into a "desperate
        attempt to give some sliver of credence to claims that the dreaded
        'liberal media' are failing to report on all the wonderful
        things happening in Iraq...Chastened, McCain issued a half-hearted
        apology a few days later, saying he 'mis- spoke' when he
        pointed to his little walk under the protection of several platoons
        the world's most powerful military as evidence of Baghdad's
        excellent shopping opportunities."  [Washington Post, 4/7/2007;
        Rocky Mountain News, 4/10/2007]

ON HIS OWN UNDERSTANDING OF THE ECONOMY: McCain denied saying he wasn't well
versed in economics.

    --  McCain Claimed That He Never Acknowledged He Wasn't Well Versed In
    --  TIM RUSSERT: You have said repeatedly, quote, I know a lot less about
        economics than I do about military or foreign policy issues. I need to
        be educated. Is it a problem for the campaign that the economy is the
        most important issue, one by your own acknowledgment you're not
        well versed on.
    --  JOHN MCCAIN: I don't know where you got that quote from. I'm
        very well versed in economics. I was there at the Reagan revolution.
        [Fact Checker, Washington Post, 1/25/08,
    --  McCain Has Acknowledged That He Doesn't Understand Economics Well.
    --  "The issue of economics is not something I've understood as
        well as I should," McCain said. "I've got
        Greenspan's book." --Boston Globe, Dec. 12, 2007.
    --  "I'm going to be honest: I know a lot less about economics
        than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be
        educated." --Stephen Moore, "Reform, Reform, Reform,", 11/26/05
    --  [Fact Checker, Washington Post, 1/25/08,

SOURCE  Democratic National Committee

Damien LaVera of the Democratic National Committee, +1-202-863-8148
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