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McCain: AQ training in Iran, er, I mean "extremists" (update)
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A McCain gaffe while on the road in Iraq:
McCain, expressing concern about Iran's rising sway in the Mideast, said, "Al-Qaida is going back into Iran and is receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran." He made the comments Tuesday at a news conference in Jordan; he made similar comments earlier to radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt.

[...]

After Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut who was traveling with McCain, stepped forward to whisper in the candidate's ear, McCain said: "I'm sorry; the Iranians are training the extremists, not al-Qaida. Not al-Qaida. I'm sorry."
Why is this a big deal? Look we all make mistakes when talking about something, but, as pointed out this was something he'd said on more than one occasion (Hugh Hewitt show). If your claim to political "elect-me" fame is your foreign policy and your national security credentials, this isn't something which burnishes that claim. In fact, it is opo fodder that I'm sure we'll see raised by one of the two candidates on the Democratic side when the time is right.

UPDATE: And apparently today is the right time:
Speaking at a community college near Fort Bragg, home of the 82nd Airborne Division and the Army Special Operations Command, the Illinois Democrat honed in on McCain’s mix-up in the Middle East yesterday in which the Arizona senator said that Iran was providing support to Al Qaeda in Iraq, one of the Sunni insurgent groups there.

In fact, U.S. intelligence agencies believe Iran is providing assistance to Shia militias, which are struggling against Sunni insurgent groups including Al Qaeda in Iraq.

“Just yesterday, we heard Senator McCain (R-Ariz.) confuse Sunni and Shia, Iran and al Qaeda,” Obama said. “Maybe that is why he voted to go to war with a country that had no Al Qaeda ties. Maybe that is why he completely fails to understand that the war in Iraq has done more to embolden America’s enemies than any strategic choice that we have made in decades.”
Of course Obama's incorrect as well - there were AQ ties (ties in this case meaning supporting AQ leaders like Zawahiri with EIJ (an AQ affiliate) and supporting the same causes (such as killing Americans in Somalia), as pointed out in the recent Pentagon report and misreported by the media. Obama has apparently chosen to go with the first reports and not the amended ones.
 
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I noticed this was his atleast is 2nd if not 3rd time doing something similar. Its going to get noticed.

Its also going to feed the media tact on him. They built up his policy positions & credibility too much to tear him down easily from that direction (except Iraq). They will attack his compentancy for the job of President from a health/age perspective. And they’ll attack his demeaner as well for good measure.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
Except that, according to many reports Iran has been working with AQ in Iraq. It could be that we don’t want to state that so publicaly, so that we can deal with Iran diplomatically. Or at least keep that option open.

Another possibility may be that, in the past the Iran/AQ involvement was much more then it currently is.

How about this blast from the past...

http://www.weeklystandard.com/weblogs/TWSFP/2008/03/mccain_was_right_iran_works_wi.asp
The Clinton administration recognized the relationship between al Qaeda, Iran, and Iran’s terrorist proxy, Hezbollah. Here is, in part, what the Clinton administration charged in its indictment of al Qaeda following the August 1998 embassy bombings: "USAMA BIN LADEN, the defendant, and al Qaeda also forged alliances with the National Islamic Front in the Sudan and with representatives of the government of Iran, and its associated terrorist group Hizballah, for the purpose of working together against their perceived common enemies in the West, particularly the United States."
or this...

http://www.weeklystandard.com/weblogs/TWSFP/2008/03/captured_documents_show_iran_w.asp
An American intelligence official said the new material, which has been authenticated within the intelligence community, confirms "that Iran is working closely with both the Shiite militias and Sunni Jihadist groups." The source was careful to stress that the Iranian plans do not extend to cooperation with Baathist groups fighting the government in Baghdad, and said the documents rather show how the Quds Force — the arm of Iran’s revolutionary guard that supports Shiite Hezbollah, Sunni Hamas, and Shiite death squads — is working with individuals affiliated with Al Qaeda in Iraq and Ansar al-Sunna.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
Fortunately no one listens very closely to what I say so my gaffes go unnoticed.
 
Written By: Paul
URL: http://
Except that, according to many reports Iran has been working with AQ in Iraq.
Well then he shouldn’t be apologizing, so you’ll have to explain to me why he is.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Well then he shouldn’t be apologizing, so you’ll have to explain to me why he is.
Probably for the same reason that Bush apologized for the infamous "16 words." Doesn’t mean it’s a good reason. Just a reason.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
Maybe it was a freudian slip...... like him or not, he will be the next president... so we have to get behind the leader and support him...
 
Written By: TRM
URL: http://www.dequalss.com/wp/
Probably for the same reason that Bush apologized for the infamous "16 words." Doesn’t mean it’s a good reason. Just a reason.
Heh ... I’m looking for "good reasons", Michael.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Well, I did explain one reason why it could be.

We want to keep diplomacy as an option.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
Keith, is this the very same Weekly Standard that kept telling us about all the evidence of a Saddam-Al Qaeda connection? You know, the one the Pentagon says didn’t exist? McCain may not know who’s who in Iraq, but he’s not silly enough to rely on that kind of intel.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
Keith, is this the very same Weekly Standard that kept telling us about all the evidence of a Saddam-Al Qaeda connection? You know, the one the Pentagon says didn’t exist?
There’s a difference between "relationship" and "operative relationship".

From the 9-11 Commission, Overview of the Enemy, Staff Statement No. 15 (p. 5, pdf):
Bin Ladin also explored possible cooperation with Iraq during his time in Sudan, despite his opposition to Hussein’s secular regime. Bin Ladin had in fact at one time sponsored anti-Saddam Islamists in Iraqi Kurdistan. The Sudanese, to protect their own ties with Iraq, reportedly persuaded Bin Ladin to cease this support and arranged for contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda. A senior Iraqi intelligence officer reportedly made three visits to Sudan, finally meeting Bin Ladin in 1994. Bin Ladin is said to have requested space to establish training camps, as well as assistance in procuring weapons, but Iraq apparently never responded. There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda also occurred after Bin Ladin had returned to Afghanistan, but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship. Two senior Bin Ladin associates have adamantly denied that any ties existed between al Qaeda and Iraq. We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States.
Also noted there:
By early 1998, Bin Laden was in the early stages of what would become a merger of his al Qaeda and another major terrorist group, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad. On February 23, 1998, Bin Laden and the leader of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Ayman Zawahiri, published a fatwa that announced a "ruling to kill Americans and their allies."
Any guesses as to who else supported the Egyptian Islamic Jihad?
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
You need to keep up, Retief ... as noted the Pentagon’s report established plenty of links.
The Iraqi Intelligence Service in a 1993 memo to Saddam agreed on a plan to train commandos from Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the group that assassinated Anwar Sadat and was founded by Al Qaeda’s second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri.
If you’re familiar with AQ at all, you know it is an umbrella/leadership group, under which many affiliates operate (some at its behest, some with its support), such as EIJ. And it’s hard to argue there was no connection when the head of EIJ happens to also be the number two man in AQ.

And let’s not forget that it was his general ties to terrorism and his desire to both export and support it around the world that was one of the major drivers to take him out. For instance:
In the same year, Saddam ordered his intelligence service to "form a group to start hunting Americans present on Arab soil; especially Somalia." At the time, Al Qaeda was working with warlords against American forces there.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
You don’t have to convince me, go convince McCain and Lieberman. (Although if even Lieberman won’t sign on to your theory of Iranian evildoers, you might want to rethink.) Or you can keep playing six degrees of Saddam Hussein all day. Why might not McCain rely on the Weekly Standard’s view of Iran & Al Qaeda? Because he saw what their take on Iraq & Al Qaeda was worth.

Let’s see, we sent looking for Weapons of Mass Destruction and found WMD Development Related Program Activities.

And we went looking for evidence that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq worked with Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda to plot against Americans and found that he talked with known Al Qaeda affiliates and a wider constellation of Islamist terror groups.

That’s zero for two.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
Occam’s Razor: McCain is an idiot.

Wingnut fantasy land: The 1400 year Shia/Sunni split is an illusion, and McCain has top secret intel about AQ bases in Iran that he inadvertanly let slip.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Well forget that Seif Al Adel, the former Egyptian Army Colonel, Mohammed Mokkawi was operating out of Iran’s Caspian coast as late as 2004; coordinating with the first wave of AQ attacks in Saudi Arabia (recreated in the movie "the Kingdom".Forget the fact that Zarquawi was when he wasn’t in the Kurdish zone,
was operating across the lines in Iran. How Iran has supported the Sunni Salafist Hekmatyar in Afghanistan. Forget all those details
 
Written By: narciso
URL: http://
Well forget that Seif Al Adel, the former Egyptian Army Colonel, Mohammed Mokkawi was operating out of Iran’s Caspian coast as late as 2004; coordinating with the first wave of AQ attacks in Saudi Arabia (recreated in the movie "the Kingdom".Forget the fact that Zarquawi was when he wasn’t in the Kurdish zone,
was operating across the lines in Iran. How Iran has supported the Sunni Salafist Hekmatyar in Afghanistan. Forget all those details
So what? Even if these unfounded, half-baked conspiracy theories were true, how does that support what McCain said?

McCain said that Iran is currently training AQI and sending them into Iraq.

There is not a shred of evidence to back up this claim. Nada. Zip. None. No recovered documents. No border busts. Nothing.

No doubt Iran is sending extremists into Iraq. But they are not AQI.

McCain has no clue what he is talking about. Worse, he made these statements in the Middle East. He will be rightfully perceived there by our friends and enemies as a fool and demented old man.

He’s Bush, only older and even more dumb.

There was a time when wingers cared about projecting smart foreign policy. Apparently that time has past.

 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Maybe the Bushbots were right all along about the effects of McCain’s POW experience.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Am I correct to understand that that there are no "operational ties" between Barack Obama and Hiliary Clinton ?
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://

 
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