Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Bin Laden Determined to Strike Already Struck in US

Matt Yglesias points to a 1998 interview with John McCain in which the Senator appears to downplay the danger posed by Osama bin Laden. Said McCain, "Look, is this guy, Laden, really the bad guy that’s depicted? Most of us have never heard of him before." Not that I blame McCain much for his nonchalance. As Matt quite correctly notes, many people, Democrat and Republican alike (the Clinton administration included), failed to truly appreciate the scope of the al-Qaeda threat prior to 9/11.

But that's the thing. On 9/11, al-Qaeda's destructive capacity was made visceral in what was a deeply traumatic episode. Yet, a mere month later John McCain was busy trying to convince people to invade...Iraq. A country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and no connection to al-Qaeda. An undertaking that would divert valuable and limited assets from the actual pursuit of al-Qaeda - the hunt for Osama bin Laden, the guy that no American could rightly doubt was every bit as bad as depicted.

Here's some video of McCain's post-9/11 non-wake up call (via Juan Cole). Barack Obama should make a bigger point of the "morning after" nature of McCain's Iraq war cheerleading. It wasn't just that McCain advocated shifting away from the hunt for al-Qaeda in the fall of 2002 or winter of 2003 when the Iraq invasion was n the final preparation stages. McCain started beating that drum while ground zero embers were still smoldering.

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