Friday, September 12, 2008

Distortion, Again

As Anne Kornblut of The Washington Post reports today, "the idea that the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein helped al-Qaeda plan the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a view once promoted by Bush administration officials, has since been rejected even by the president himself."

But no matter. It survives as propaganda in the McCain-Palin campaign.

Alaska governor and Repub vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin spoke yesterday before an Iraq-bound brigade of soldiers and hundreds of families who had walked from the post to a deployment service at Fort Wainwright, Alaska. Conflating the Iraq war and the 9/11 attacks, she told the soldiers, who included her son, they would "defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans."

A day earlier, on September 10, Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-I, Connecticut) introduced Senate Amendment 5368 to Senate Bill 3001, the fiscal year 2009 Defense Authorization bill. The main passage is:

[It is the sense of the Senate to] recognize the success of the troop surge in Iraq and its strategic significance in advancing the vital national interests of the United States in Iraq, the Middle East, and the world, in particular as a strategic victory in a central front of the war on terrorism.

Think Progress notes the Congressional Record as recording Lieberman's statement as including:

If there is anyone in this Chamber who doubts the strategic stakes in Iraq, I urge them to listen to General Petraeus. Listen to General Petraeus who warned us in an interview published today in the Washington Post that “Iraq is still viewed as the central front for al-Qaida.” Let me repeat that: “Iraq is still viewed as the central front for al-Qaida,” which is to say by al-Qaida. Not Afghanistan, Iraq; not Pakistan, Iraq.
This is not the opinion of a Member of Congress. It is not the opinion of a politician running for office. It is the judgment of America’s most successful battlefield commander in the war on terror which began 7 years ago tomorrow when America was brutally attacked on 9/11/2001.

This measure, as a sense of the Senate resolution, is not binding and thus has no practical effect. But it can a) reinforce the McCain campaign's (ludicrous) implicit argument that the (overrated) success of the surge justifies launch of the Iraq war; b)serve as the basis of attack ads on Senator Obama, who will either vote for it or against it, or miss the vote while on the campaign trail; and c) conflate this war with the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Lieberman, of course, is merely trying to score political points. But it is conceivable that Governor Palin really believes that we were attacked on September 11, 2001 by terrorists based in Iraq, funded by Iraq, or trained in Iraq. Will the media note that the V.P. nominee, on a mission to prove that she really, really does understand some if the issues facing the country, is ignorant on this vital point? Or will the media instead suggest that she intends to mislead the country for political gain? Here is a safe bet- they will do neither, and so continue to aid and abet the Republican ticket.

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