Montana Politics US Politics

Fact Check on Conrad Burns, Part 1

My brief contribution to a fact check on the Burns-Tester debate.
Update: It’s going to take another post to deal with this.

Burns: “ Are we AWOL on Darfur? Yes we are. When that broke out, it was a pacifist mind then or an appeasement mind then that did not commit anything to Africa when some of us said it was time to act.


  • A quick check of Thomas reveals that Burns’ action on Sudan includes the following: A resolution affirming the importance of increased international action and a national week of prayer for the Ugandan victims of Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army, and expressing the sense of the Senate that Sudan, Uganda, and the international community bring justice and humanitarian assistance to Northern Uganda.
  • The Darfur conflict started in February 2003. Is Senator Burns suggesting that President Bush was using an appeasement mindset in dealing with the conflict?
  • Burns was not a co-sponsor of Senate Concurrent Resolution 124, which declared genocide in Sudan.
  • He was not a co-sponsor of the Comprehensive Peace in Sudan Act

Burns (referring to chemical weapons in Iraq): "There was some starin there, and other stuff."


  • Starin is probably a reference to sarin, but since it is imaginary, who knows?
  • The Bush administration’s own inspectors reported that "that Iraq unilaterally destroyed its undeclared chemical weapons stockpile in 1991. There are no credible Indications that Baghdad resumed production of chemical munitions thereafter…"

Burns (referrring to NSA monitoring of phone calls): "They are only monitoring international traffick and those people and phone numbers that were known terrorist groups and cells, and it is legal. It’s already been proven that."


  • Even Fox News says that there is a debate about the legality of the program.
  • GW law professor Jonathan Turley says, ""There isn’t any question in my mind that this operation violated federal law. And once you determine that federal law was violated, you … reach a very troubling set of related conclusions."
  • USA Today reports that the NSA collected a database of calls made by tens of millions of Americans.
  • The New York Times says that "Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials."

Burns: "The 2005 energy bill relied on renewables and alterantive energy"


  • Public Citizen reports that "Most of positive measures that were in the earlier Senate bill, such as a renewable portfolio standard, were ultimately taken out of the conference report that was passed."
  • Specifically, the bill gave $6 billion in subsidies to oil and gas companies, rolled back regulation on drinking water, reduced state and federal oversight of pollution, gave $9 billion in subsidies to coal production, and rejected measures to reduce greenhouse gases, reduce oil imports, and address climate change.

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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