December 2001: In response to Democratic plans to question parts of the USA Patriot Act during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, John Ashcroft suggests that people who disagree with the administration's anti-terrorism policies are on the side of the terrorists. "To those who pit Americans against immigrants, and citizens against non-citizens; to those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists, for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America's enemies, and pause to America's friends. They encourage people of good will to remain silent in the face of evil."
February 2002: Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle expresses mild disagreement with US anti-terror policies, saying US success in the war on terror "is still somewhat in doubt." In response, Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) says that Daschle's "divisive comments have the effect of giving aid and comfort to our enemies by allowing them to exploit divisions in our country."
May 2002: After the disclosure that President Bush received a general warning about possible Al Qaeda hijackings prior to 9/11, Democrats demand to know what other information the administration had before the attacks. In response, White House communications director Dan Bartlett says that the Democratic statements "are exactly what our opponents, our enemies, want us to do."
June 2002: Republican Senate candidate Saxby Chambliss issued a press release accusing Senator Max Cleland (D-GA) of "breaking his oath to protect and defend the Constitution" because he voted for a successful 1997 amendment to the chemical weapons treaty that removed language barring inspectors from certain countries from being part of United Nations inspection teams in Iraq.
September 2002: Campaigning against Democrats who did not support his legislation to create the Department of Homeland Security (a department whose creation he had previously opposed), President Bush said that "the Senate is more interested in special interests in Washington and not interested in the security of the American people." After a speech by Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle criticizing the Bush administration and the GOP for politicizing the war on terror, Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), the House Majority Whip, criticized those in Congress who are "questioning the president's leadership, that are constantly throwing up hurdles to keep us from doing what we have to do to protect the American people." He added, "These are people that don't want to protect the American people... [T]hey will do anything, spend all the time and resources they can, to avoid confronting evil."
May 2004: After Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) said "the direction [in Iraq] has got be changed or it is unwinnable," Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) said Democrats are "basically giving aid and comfort to the enemy." Similarly, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called President Bush an "incompetent leader," House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) said Pelosi "apparently is so caught up in partisan hatred for President Bush that her words are putting American lives at risk."
September 2004: As John Kerry steps up his criticism of the Bush administration's handling of Iraq and the war on terror, Republicans repeatedly suggest that he is emboldening the enemy. Senator Zell Miller (D-GA) says that "while young Americans are dying in the sands of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan, our nation is being torn apart and made weaker because of the Democrats' manic obsession to bring down our Commander in Chief." President Bush says, "You can embolden an enemy by sending a mixed message... You send the wrong message to our troops by sending mixed messages." And Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) claims that terrorists "are going to throw everything they can between now and the election to try and elect Kerry," adding that Democrats are "consistently saying things that I think undermine our young men and women who are serving over there."
In addition, South Dakota GOP chair Randy Frederick attacked Senator Tom Daschle, saying "Daschle's three years as Complainer in Chief have brought shame to the honor of his office, concern to our men and women in uniform, and comfort to America's enemies." When asked about this comment, John Thune, Daschle's opponent, cited Daschle's statement that President Bush "failed so miserably at diplomacy that we're now forced to war" before the invasion of Iraq, saying "What it does is emboldens our enemies and undermines the morale of our troops," adding, "His words embolden the enemy."
July 2005: Senator Dick Durbin states that a description of US interrogation procedures at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility sounds like something "done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others." Presidential adviser Karl Rove responds by suggesting that Durbin and other liberals seek to put US troops in danger, saying that "Al Jazeera now broadcasts the words of Senator Durbin to the Mideast, certainly putting our troops in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals."
November/December 2005: With critics of the war in Iraq growing increasingly vocal, Republicans lash out, suggesting that Democrats are encouraging the enemy and want to surrender to terrorists. President Bush says that "These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will." Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) states that "Many on the Democratic side have revealed their exit strategy: surrender" and Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY) says that "[T]he liberal leadership have put politics ahead of sound fiscal and national security policy. And what they have done is cooperated with our enemies and are emboldening our enemies."
After DNC chairman Howard Dean says "The idea that we're going to win this war is an idea that unfortunately is just plain wrong," Republicans reiterate the same line of attack. House Speaker Dennis Hastert says Dean "made it clear the Democratic Party sides with those who wish to surrender" and GOP chairman Ken Mehlman says Dean's statement "sends the wrong message to our troops, the wrong message to the enemy, the wrong message to the Iraqi people."
January 2006: President Bush suggests that "defeatists" on Iraq are disloyal by contrasting them with a "loyal opposition," stating that the American people "know the difference between a loyal opposition that points out what is wrong, and defeatists who refuse to see that anything is right."
March 2006: Senator Russ Feingold introduces a motion to censure President Bush. In response, Republicans suggest that he is harming national security and endangering US troops. RNC chairman Ken Mehlman says that "Democrat leaders never miss an opportunity to put politics before our nation's security" and that they would "would rather censure the President for doing his job than actually fight the War on Terror," refers to "repeated Democrat attempts to weaken these efforts to fight the terrorists and keep American families safe," and states that "Democrats should to be focused on winning the War on Terror, not undermining it with political axe-grinding of the ugliest kind." Senator John Cornyn adds that the resolution would "make the jobs of our soldiers and diplomats harder and place them at greater risk."
June 2006: In response to Democratic calls for a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq, President Bush suggests that Democrats want to surrender. "There's a group in the opposition party who are willing to retreat before the mission is done," he said. "They're willing to wave the white flag of surrender. And if they succeed, the United States will be worse off, and the world will be worse off." However, Bush adviser Dan Bartlett is unable to name a single Democrat to which this description applies.
September 2006: During a press conference the day after the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11th, House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) said, "I wonder if they [Democrats] are more interested in protecting the terrorists than protecting the American people," adding, "They certainly do not want to take the terrorists on and defeat them." When asked if he intended to accuse Democrats of treason, Boehner replied, "I said I wonder if they're more interested in protecting the terrorists... They certainly don't want to take the terrorists on in the field."
After Democratic House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said the capture of Osama bin Laden would not make the US any safer, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) said "Where do your loyalties lie?" while standing next to a poster depicting Pelosi and her statement.
Senator Rick Santorum also attacked Democratic minority leader Harry Reid on the Senate floor, saying, "If you listen to the Democratic leader, our lesson is: . . . Let's put domestic politics ahead of the security of this country. That's the message."
October 2006: In emails to GOP supporters, President Bush asserted that Democrats "will wave the white flag of surrender in the global war on terror" if they win the 2006 election; RNC chairman Ken Mehlman used Democratic opposition to the Military Commissions Act to suggest they do not want to interrogate terrorists, stating that "84% of the Democrats in the House voted against interrogating terrorists, as did 73% of the Democrats in the Senate"; and Senator Sam Brownback claimed Democrats "want to ... weaken our ability to fight an effective War on Terror."
January 2007: Defense Secretary Robert Gates denounced a resolution opposing President Bush's plan to increase troop levels in Iraq, saying, "I think it's pretty clear that a resolution that, in effect, says that the general going out to take command of the arena shouldn't have the resources he thinks he needs to be successful certainly emboldens the enemy and our adversaries. I think it's hard to measure that with any precision, but it seems pretty straightforward that any indication of flagging will in the United States gives encouragement to those folks. And I'm sure that that's not the intent behind the resolutions, but I think it may be the effect."
Appearing on "Meet the Press," Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said that "I think that's a dangerous position to take, to oppose a sitting commander in chief while we've got people being shot at on the ground. I think it's one thing to have a debate and a discussion about this strategy, but to openly oppose, in essence, the strategy, I think that can be a very risky thing for our troops." Senator John Cornyn said, "To offer nonbinding resolutions which encourage our enemies and undermine our allies and deflate the morale of our troops is, to me, the worst of all possible worlds." And Senator Jon Kyl added that "[t]he worst thing would be for the Senate by 60 votes to express disapproval of a mission we are sending people to lay down their lives for."
February 2007: White House spokesman Tony Snow said that "Osama bin Laden thought that a lack of American resolve was a key reason he could inspire people to come after us after September 11th. I am not accusing members of the Senate of inviting carnage on the United States of America. I'm simply saying you think about what impact it may have." Rep. Don Young (R-AK) twice repeated a quotation falsely attributed to Abraham Lincoln on the House floor, which states that "Congressmen who willfully take action during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs, and should be arrested, exiled or hanged."
April 2007: The White House and other Republicans begin referring to the Democrats' proposed withdrawal date from Iraq as a "date for surrender" and "waving the white flag of surrender." Sen. Norman Coleman (R-Minn.) said the Democrats were "handing al-Qaeda a victory that they will be able to use to strengthen their forces and then hurt and kill more Americans." Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, a presidential candidate, said that, if a Democrat were elected, "it sounds to me like we're going on defense. We're going to wave the white flag there [in Iraq]." And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that "[Democrats] used this serious effort -- what should have been a serious effort to fund the troops -- as an opportunity to send a memo to our enemy on when we're going to give up and to get pork for various and sordid projects back home."
July 2007: Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman attacks Sen. Hillary Clinton's request for information about US preparation for eventual withdrawal from Iraq, suggesting it will boost enemy propaganda. In a letter to Clinton, he wrote, "Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia."
August 2007: GOP chairman Mike Duncan claims that Democrats want the US to lose in Iraq in an email to supporters, writing that "The Democrat leadership believes failure by our troops in Iraq... is essential for them to win elections in 2008," that "Democrat leaders are hoping for our troops to fail so their party can gain a political advantage," and that "The Democrats are hoping our troops fail in the War on Terror in the craven desire that it will boost their party's electoral fortunes in 2008."
September 2007: Republican presidential candidates Rudy Giuliani and John McCain attack critics of General David Petraeus, including Hillary Clinton and MoveOn.org. Giuliani tells Sean Hannity that "You should not be allowed to malign someone's reputation unfairly just because you think it's good for your campaign," while McCain states at a press conference that "MoveOn.org ought to be thrown out of this country" (a statement he later retracts).
February 2008: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney withdraws from the race, saying "If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror."
In addition, GOP Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison said that a Democratic bill requiring a rapid withdrawal from Iraq would "put a bullet right in the hearts of our troops who are there."
May 2008: In a fundraising email to supporters, NRSC chairman John Ensign suggests that one of the top legislative priorities of "Big Labor, MoveOn.org and extremist environmental groups" is "weakening our national defense."
September 2009: During a town hall meeting, Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) calls Nancy Pelosi one of the "domestic enemies of the Constitution" shortly after saying that "[Second Amendment] gun rights are actually critical to prevent treason in America."
[see also Smears of Barack Obama's loyalty 2006-]