FactCheck: Body Armor Claim: Still False and Nasty - defends Dole
FactCheck has renewed hostilities over an old issue about funding body armor for troops in Iran and Afghanistan. The non-profit, nonpartisan group says the VoteVets attack on Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole is recycling "one of the worst 'Whoppers of 2006'".
The liberal group VoteVets.org is running an ad claiming that Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole "voted against giving our troops" life-saving body armor.
It's a slightly revised version of an ad the same group ran against four GOP senators in the 2006 election. The claim was false and nasty then, and it's false and nasty now.
FactCheck says there never was such a vote. At the time mentioned in the ad, FactCheck maintains, the Pentagon had plenty of funds to purchase body armor. The problem for slow deployment was due to lack of supply.
At the time, the military was already buying every piece of body armor the economy could produce, and Pentagon officials said funding was sufficient.
VoteVets recycled the 2006 ad, changing some of the wording. However, FactCheck says the ad still ranks as a "whopper".
Life and Death
The ad is just as shocking and visually powerful as it was in its 2006 version. It shows the same footage of Pete Granato, an Army reservist who served in Iraq, firing several rounds from an AK-47 assault rifle into a pair of mannequins at a distance of about 50 feet. Granato then rips open the vests to show bullet holes in the abdomen of the figure wearing what he described as "the protection that we were given when we deployed to Iraq," but no bullet holes in the dummy protected by what he refers to as "modern body armor, made for today's weapons."
Granato then says, "The difference is life and death," adding, "Senator Elizabeth Dole voted against giving our troops this."
But that's false. There was never a vote that would have prevented troops from being equipped with the ceramic-plate vests to which Granato refers.
In the original ad, VoteVets.org based its false claim on one vote against a measure that made no mention of body armor, either in the amendment itself or in the Senate debate about it. It would have provided an extra $1 billion for purchase of unspecified "equipment."
This time, the ad also cites a second vote, which Dole cast against a Democratic amendment that would have shifted $322 million away from Iraqi reconstruction and applied it to "safety equipment," some of which could have gone to body armor. But that was not a vote against "giving our troops" body armor, which was already being shipped to Iraq. An appropriations bill – which Dole supported – contained an extra $300 million for possible use for body armor. The Pentagon said it had ample funds for body armor, and in fact had everyone in Iraq supplied with the vests within three months after that vote.
What Caused the Shortage
Neither of the votes the ad cites would have resulted in the purchase of more body armor than the Pentagon was buying. The reason is quite simply that the military had already – using existing funds – increased its orders for body armor to nine times higher than pre-war levels, exceeding the ability of manufacturers to meet demand. A report issued in 2005 by the Government Accountability Office concluded that the shortage resulted from the sudden surge in demand, causing shortages of Kevlar fabric and of a critical material used in ceramic plates.
GAO: We consider this item to have a shortage because demand exceeded the production output necessary to meet the needs of the war fighter.
GAO also faulted the Pentagon logistics system, which it says was trying to ship units so fast (sometimes directly from the factory to the troops) that it lost track of thousands of vests and plates. Money was not the problem; GAO cited no shortage of funds.
We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit "consumer advocate" for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases. Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding.
The Annenberg Political Fact Check is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. The APPC was established by publisher and philanthropist Walter Annenberg in 1994 to create a community of scholars within the University of Pennsylvania that would address public policy issues at the local, state and federal levels.
The APPC accepts NO funding from business corporations, labor unions, political parties, lobbying organizations or individuals. It is funded primarily by the Annenberg Foundation.