Hannity misinforms on defense budget, missile defense

››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

Sean Hannity falsely claimed that President Obama ordered "drastic cuts in the military budget" and misleadingly cropped comments by Secretary Gates to criticize Obama over missile defense.

During the April 7 edition of Fox News' Hannity, host Sean Hannity falsely claimed that President Obama ordered "drastic cuts in the military budget" and misleadingly cropped comments Defense Secretary Robert Gates made during an April 6 press conference to criticize Obama over missile defense. Hannity asserted: "Despite the clear threat that a North Korean missile launch could pose to our allies and to our homeland, President Obama has ordered his secretary of Defense to make drastic cuts in the military budget, particularly in the area of missile defense." In fact, the Obama administration has proposed increasing defense spending by billions of dollars over the amount enacted in fiscal year 2009. As CNN.com noted on April 6, "The proposed overall fiscal year 2010 Defense Department budget is almost $534 billion, or nearly $664 billion when including the costs of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The current Pentagon budget totals slightly over $513 billion, or almost $655 billion including the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts."

According to the White House, the administration's proposed budget for fiscal year 2010 requests $533.7 billion for the Department of Defense, "an increase of four percent from the 2009 enacted level of $513.3 billion," plus $130 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2010. As Media Matters for America documented, on April 6, Hannity similarly falsely claimed that "this administration is taking steps to cut defense spending.

Hannity also played a clip of Gates stating, "Overall, the Missile Defense Agency program will be reduced by $1.4 billion. ... We will not increase the number of current ground-based interceptors in Alaska as had been planned." In fact, immediately before and after saying, "We will not increase the number of ground-based interceptors in Alaska as had been planned," Gates addressed rogue state missile threats, asserting that his proposals would focus on such threats. Before the comment, he said, "[I]n the area of missile defense, we will restructure the program to focus on the rogue state and theater missile threat," and afterward, he said: "[W]e will continue to robustly fund continued research and development to improve the capability we already have to defend against long-range rogue missile threats, a threat North Korea's missile launch this past weekend reminds us is real."

From the Defense Department's transcript of Gates' April 6 press conference with parts Hannity omitted highlighted in italics:

Fourth, in the area of missile defense, we will restructure the program to focus on the rogue state and theater missile threat. We will not increase the number of current ground-based interceptors in Alaska, as had been planned, but we will continue to robustly fund continued research and development to improve the capability we already have to defend against long-range rogue missile threats, a threat North Korea's missile launch this past weekend reminds us is real.

We will cancel the second Airborne Laser Prototype Aircraft. We'll keep the existing aircraft and shift the program to an R&D effort. The ABL program has significant affordability and technology problems, and the program's proposed operational role is highly questionable. We will terminate the Multiple Kill Vehicle program because of its significant technical challenges and the need to take a fresh look at the requirement.

Overall, the Missile Defense Agency program will be reduced by $1.4 billion.

Moreover, contrary to Hannity's claim that "President Obama has ordered his secretary of Defense to make drastic cuts in the military budget, particularly in the area of missile defense" [emphasis added], Gates stated during his press conference, "I reached the final decisions after many hours of consultations with the military and civilian leadership of the department. I have also consulted closely with the president. But I received no direction or guidance from outside this department on individual program decisions. The Chairman and the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are in complete accord with these recommendations."

From the April 7 edition of Fox News' Hannity:

HANNITY: And tonight's "Great Moment in Liberal Foreign Policy" is brought to you by the Obama White House and Kim Jong Il. Now, this weekend, the rogue nation of North Korea garnered the attention of the entire world when it launched a long-range missile that some analysts feared could have the capability of hitting, not just our allies in the region, but the states of Hawaii and Alaska.

And what reliable world body does our president decide to lean on during this time of crisis? Well, take a look.

OBAMA [video clip]: This action demands a response from the international community, including from the United Nations Security Council, to demonstrate that its resolution cannot be defied with impunity.

HANNITY: Now, that's just the start of it. Despite the clear threat that a North Korean missile launch could pose to our allies and to our homeland, President Obama has ordered his secretary of Defense to make drastic cuts in the military budget, particularly in the area of missile defense.

GATES [video clip]: Overall, the Missile Defense Agency program will be reduced by $1.4 billion. ... We will not increase the number of current ground-based interceptors in Alaska as had been planned.

HANNITY: So, let me get this straight. North Korea launches a missile, and the very next day, the president decides to cut the missile defense budget -- another brilliant foreign policy move by team Obama.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, Defense Funding
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Sean Hannity
Show/Publication
Hannity
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