PolitiFact: Don’t Blame Obama for ISIS Rise, It’s Bush’s Fault!

Appearing on MSNBC in the 10 a.m. ET hour on Tuesday to perform a supposed “fact check” of Donald Trump’s Monday foreign policy speech, PolitiFact editor Angie Holan denounced the Republican nominee’s statement that “The rise of ISIS is the direct result of policy decisions made by President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton.”

Holan proclaimed: “This is distorted. Our research shows that the terrorist group that we now call ISIS was forming right after the Iraq war, during the Bush administration. In 2004, the group was coming together. In 2006, it was quite active. It's had a number of name changes over the years.”

Notice how she hedged her commentary by remarking that the terror group “had a number of name changes.” In other words, the “Islamic State” didn’t exist until Barack Obama came into office.

After offering that bit of liberal spin, Holan continued:

Now, some people blame President Obama for not leaving more troops in Iraq. But that was a negotiation started during the Bush administration and included the Iraq government, which didn't really want to have a lot of American troops stay in the country anyway. So, way more complicated and not a direct result.

Anchor Thomas Roberts helpfully added: “And President Bush signed into action what was gonna take place with the troop draw-down, correct?” Holan replied: “It was Bush's agreement and then Obama inherited it.”

It’s amazing how President Obama was able to abandon just about every policy of the Bush administration but was somehow helpless to alter that one in any way.

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According to the PolitiFact article:

The terrorist group’s roots pre-date Obama’s presidency and Clinton’s role as secretary of state, and experts said nothing led to the group’s emergence and expansion like the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq.

Here’s the skimmed version of other contributing factors: Clinton as a senator did vote to authorize force in Iraq in 2002, but so did the vast majority of senators from both parties. Obama inherited a timeline to exit Iraq from Bush, and that did not include an agreement to leave a large force behind, which was what Obama wanted.

Other actions brought up by experts include the Obama administration’s lack of support to anti-Assad rebels in Syria (which Clinton did support) and its decision to intervene in Libya contributed to the power of ISIS.

Back in May, Holan laughably assured:

Readers notice that Trump gets a lot of negative ratings from PolitiFact, while Clinton doesn’t. Does this show media bias? I don’t think so. Our work remains squarely focused on the facts. Let’s look at both sides....Our reporting is not "opinion journalism," because our sole focus is on facts and evidence.

Here is a transcript of the August 16 MSNBC exchange:

10:36 AM ET

DONALD TRUMP: The rise of ISIS is the direct result of policy decisions made by President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton.

THOMAS ROBERTS: So Donald Trump has backed off his much-maligned comments that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were the founder and co-founder of ISIS. But as you just heard there, he did blame them for the rise of the terror group in his major foreign policy speech from Youngstown, Ohio.

And here to help us fact check that speech is PolitiFact editor Angie Holan. Angie, good to have you with us. And let's just start with that statement right there. Donald Trump says the rise of ISIS is a direct result of policy decisions made by President Obama and Hillary Clinton. True or false?

ANGIE HOLAN: This is distorted. Our research shows that the terrorist group that we now call ISIS was forming right after the Iraq war, during the Bush administration. In 2004, the group was coming together. In 2006, it was quite active. It's had a number of name changes over the years.

Now, some people blame President Obama for not leaving more troops in Iraq. But that was a negotiation started during the Bush administration and included the Iraq government, which didn't really want to have a lot of American troops stay in the country anyway. So, way more complicated and not a direct result.
    
ROBERTS: And President Bush signed into action what was gonna take place with the troop draw-down, correct?

HOLAN: It was Bush's agreement and then Obama inherited it.         

(...)

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is the Senior News Analyst for MRC