FactCheck.org: Cheney v. Biden

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In their dueling Sunday show appearances, FactCheck.org says, neither Veep colored entirely inside the lines. It’s worth reading their entire report, but here are some of the highlights:

Vice President Biden and former V.P. Cheney have been slugging it out publicly over the proper way to prosecute suspected terrorists. Biden went so far as to accuse Cheney of being “factually, substantively wrong.” So we took a look, and found both men have been straining the facts:

* Cheney said that shoe bomber Richard Reid was tried in civilian court rather than a military tribunal “primarily because he pleaded guilty.” In fact, 10 months passed between Reid’s arrest and his guilty plea, more than enough time to transfer him to the military system.
* Biden claimed that 300 terrorists have been convicted in civilian courts and “they’re all in jail.” In fact, at least 25 have been released. And the 300 figure is dubious; President Obama himself puts the figure at 190.

Both men put their own spin on things by citing facts selectively.

* Cheney complained that Obama initially called the perpetrator of the 2009 Christmas Day bombing attempt an “isolated extremist.” That’s true, but the president said in the same breath that an investigation was underway and that “we will not rest until we find all who were involved.”
* Biden said only three terrorists had been tried in military tribunals and “two are walking the street right now.” That’s also true — but the streets being walked are in Australia and Yemen.
* Cheney said that 12 percent of freed Guantanamo detainees were “recidivists.” But that was never true unless those “suspected” of fighting the U.S. are counted. The most recent figure of “confirmed” recidivists is 9.6 percent.