- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 7, 2004

In the debate Tuesday, Vice President Dick Cheney misstated the name of a Web site that has debunked some of Democrats’ charges against him, and Democrats immediately seized on the error to link Internet visitors to a site full of anti-Bush propaganda.

The vice president dismissed as a “smoke screen” Democratic challenger Sen. John Edwards’ recitation of accusations against Halliburton, an energy services company of which Mr. Cheney was chief executive officer from 1995 to 2000.

“They know the charges are false,” Mr. Cheney responded during the debate at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. “They know that if you go, for example, to FactCheck.com, an independent Web site sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania, you can get the specific details with respect to Halliburton.”

In fact, the address for the university’s Annenberg Public Policy Center project is www.FactCheck.org — and by yesterday morning, quick-thinking Democrats had purchased the incorrect listing cited by Mr. Cheney, so that Internet users trying to log on to FactCheck.com were re-directed to the Web site of anti-Bush billionaire investor George Soros.

“President Bush is endangering our safety, hurting our vital interests, and undermining American values,” Mr. Soros proclaimed in a “personal message” on that site (www.georgesoros.com) yesterday.

Mr. Soros’ Web site disclaimed responsibility for the Internet switch.

“We do not own the FactCheck.com domain name and are not responsible for it redirecting to GeorgeSoros.com,” declared a statement on the site yesterday. “We are surprised as anyone by this turn of events.”

Meanwhile, the University of Pennsylvania site operators said Mr. Cheney mischaracterized their reporting on his ties to Halliburton, the company whose Republican connections and multimillion-dollar federal contracts for reconstruction work in Iraq have made it a stock villain of Democratic campaign rhetoric.

“Cheney … wrongly implied that we had rebutted allegations Edwards was making about what Cheney had done as chief executive officer of Halliburton,” FactCheck.org said yesterday in its analysis of the Cheney-Edwards debate.

“In fact, we did post an article pointing out that Cheney hasn’t profited personally while in office from Halliburton’s Iraq contracts, as falsely implied by a Kerry TV ad,” it said. “But Edwards was talking about Cheney’s responsibility for earlier Halliburton troubles. And in fact, Edwards was mostly right.”

In a Sept. 30 article, FactCheck.org wrote that an ad for Sen. John Kerry’s presidential campaign wrongly implied that Mr. Cheney “has a financial interest in Halliburton and is profiting from the company’s contracts in Iraq.

“The fact is, Cheney doesn’t gain a penny from Halliburton’s contracts, and almost certainly won’t lose even if Halliburton goes bankrupt,” the article reported. “The ad claims Cheney got $2 million from Halliburton ‘as vice president,’ which is false. Actually, nearly $1.6 million of that was paid before Cheney took office. More importantly, all of it was earned before he was a candidate, when he was the company’s chief executive.”

FactCheck.org describes itself as “a nonpartisan, nonprofit, ‘consumer advocate’ for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.”

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