PoliGraph: NRCC distorts Nolan’s terrorism record

poligraph-falseIn its latest ad, the National Republican Congressional Committee is seeking to make 8th Congressional District Rep. Rick Nolan look soft on terrorism.

A new spot running this week weaves images Nolan with videos of terrorists, tanks and explosions.

“We all know the growing threat we face today,” the ad says. “What we don’t know is why Congressman Rick Nolan voted to release terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay and then voted against funding for our troops fighting the war on terror.”

This ad misrepresents Nolan’s votes.

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The Evidence

In the spring of 2014, after President Barack Obama swapped five prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, House Republicans said Obama had overstepped his authority.

As a result, Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton offered an amendment to the 2015 Defense Department funding bill that would prevent money from being spent on releasing more prisoners from Guantanamo.

Nolan voted against the amendment – but that’s not the same thing as voting for the release of Guantanamo Bay prisoners. The amendment ultimately passed. But if Democrats had successfully blocked the provision, more prisoners wouldn’t have automatically been released.

The NRCC provided PoliGraph with a handful of additional Nolan votes to prove their point. In some cases, Nolan was voting for amendments to allow the government to modify facilities on U.S. soil to accommodate Guantanamo prisoners.

In one case, Nolan voted for an amendment that would have allowed 77 Guantanamo prisoners already cleared by the government to go back to their home countries. And in another case, Nolan voted for an amendment that would have closed Guantanamo by the end of the year – but would have moved the prisoners to facilities on U.S. soil or put them on trial.

Nolan has a track record of wanting to deal with prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, but nothing he voted for would have simply released dangerous captives as the ad implies.

The second part of the NRCC ad focuses on a vote Nolan cast in favor of an amendment that would have prevented the U.S. from spending money to implement the Authorization for Use of Military Force resolution.

That resolution allowed the United States to target the terrorists behind the 9/11 attacks in 2001, and it was more recently was cited by Obama as justification for going after the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria commonly known as ISIS.

But that’s not exactly a vote against funding for our troops to fight. In fact, Nolan voted for the overall Defense Department funding bill, which included a $4.1 billion increase in funding for the department.

NRCC spokesman Tyler Houlton said Nolan has voted against other military funding measures in the past.

Underpinning the entire ad is the sense that Nolan doesn’t support the U.S. response to ISIS, the “growing threat” the ad refers to.

That’s true.  Nolan said earlier this month that he doesn’t support airstrikes in Syria to combat the terrorist group. And Nolan voted against a bill to expand a program to arm moderate Syrian rebels to fight ISIS.

The Verdict

The ad says Nolan voted to release “terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay,” but there’s more to the story.

Nolan didn’t vote to cut funding for troops. He voted to block the government from funding a resolution it’s used in the past to justify going to war.

For not telling the whole story, this ad is misleading to the point of being false.