Last week, we fact-checked some of the claims made by Vice President Biden during his debate with Paul Ryan. Due to space limitations, we could review only three of his claims. Today we examine a couple more: Biden’s claims that aid to Syrian rebels is not arming terrorism, and that Obamacare does not infringe the religious freedom of Catholic and other religious institutions. Both these claims we must adjudge:
The recent terrorist attack in Libya raised questions about President Obama’s authorization of secret U.S. aid to the Libyan rebels — among whom were reported Al-Qaida members. Biden insisted that the administration is not repeating this mistake in Syria, in its coordination with Saudi Arabia and other regional powers.
The United States is working ‚??hand and glove‚?Ě with Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries, said Biden, ‚??attempting to identify the people who deserve the help,‚?Ě to ensure that the Assad regime is replaced by ‚??a legitimate government,‚?Ě rather than ‚??an Al Qaida-sponsored government.‚?Ě He added that the U.S. is ‚??making sure‚?Ě that ‚??aid and training‚?Ě are targeted to ‚??those forces that we believe … the Saudis believe are the free forces inside of Syria.‚?Ě
This claim was directly contradicted by an October 14 New York Times report: ‚??Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster, according to American officials and Middle Eastern diplomats.‚?Ě This fact, reported the NYT, ‚??casts into doubt whether the White House‚??s strategy of minimal and indirect intervention in the Syrian conflict is accomplishing its intended purpose of helping a democratic-minded opposition topple an oppressive government, or is instead sowing the seeds of future insurgencies hostile to the United States.‚?Ě
Not only was Biden’s claim false; according to the Times, he knew it was false: ‚??President Obama and other senior officials are aware‚?Ě that most Saudi aid is going to Islamist forces, said the report, ‚??from classified assessments of the Syrian conflict.‚?Ě
Perhaps Biden will claim that he was out of the loop on this intel, just as he and the president were allegedly out of the loop regarding the real situation in Benghazi.
Biden was no more accurate on domestic issues. Under Obamacare, he claimed, ‚??No religious institution ‚?? Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital ‚?? none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact. That is a fact.‚?Ě
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops contradicted Biden’s claim: ‚??This is not a fact. The HHS mandate contains a narrow, four-part exemption for certain ‘religious employers.’ However, that exemption ‚??does not extend to ‘Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital,’ or any other religious charity that offers its services to all, regardless of the faith of those served.‚?Ě
The USCCB added that HHS has ‚??proposed an additional ‘accommodation’‚?Ě for religious organizations like these, ‚??which HHS itself describes as ‘non-exempt.’‚?Ě Even if that proposal is adopted, however, such organizations would still be required to ‚??’to pay for contraception’ and ‘to be a vehicle to get contraception,’‚?Ě because ‚??they will still be forced to provide their employees with health coverage‚?Ě that ‚??will still have to include sterilization, contraception, and abortifacients.‚?Ě
The Bishops concluded by urging HHS, ‚??in the strongest possible terms, actually to eliminate the various infringements on religious freedom imposed by the mandate.‚?Ě
During the debate, Biden said, ‚??My religion defines who I am, and I’ve been a practicing Catholic my whole life.‚?Ě If that’s so, the vice president would do well to remember the Eighth Commandment.