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Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Obama Backtracks on Attacking Pakistan

posted by on August 8 at 13:40 PM

In a Democratic debate last night, Chris Dodd (and Hillary Clinton) criticized Barack Obama’s recent statements about unilaterally launching attacks inside the mountainous tribal areas of Packistan in order to get at Al Qaeda targets.

Here’s what Obama said on Oct. 1 in a major policy address on terrorism:

I understand that President Musharraf has his own challenges. But let me make this clear. There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an Al Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will.

When Dodd and Clinton challenged Obama on this last night, Obama reminded the audience that he’d been right on “the biggest foreign policy disaster in our generation,” the Iraq war, and added:

I did not say that we would immediately go in unilaterally, what I said was that we have to work with Musharraf… Chris, respectfully, and you and I are close friends, but you obviously didn’t read my speech because what I said was that we had to refocus, get out of Iraq; make certain we are helping Pakistan deal with the problem of Al Qaeda in the hills between Afghanistan and Pakistan but Chris, if we have actionable intelligence on Al Qaeda operatives, including bin Laden and President Musharraf cannot act, then we should.

Today the Dodd campaign is claiming: “Senator Obama clearly buckled under the pressure last night while being challenged by much more experienced, seasoned candidates like Chris Dodd.”

It’s also circulating the text of an MSNBC post-debate clip that catches Obama walking back his previous statements:

As part of MSNBC’s post debate coverage, MSNBC reporter David Shuster agreed with Dodd, saying that Obama was misleading about his August 1st terrorism speech:

Obama (video of debate): “I did not say that we would immediately go in unilaterally, what I said was that we have to work with Musharraf”

Shuster: “Actually Obama is incorrect and Dodd is right on this one. Watch what Obama said in his speech just a few days ago.

Obama (video of terrorism speech, 8/1/07): “It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an Al Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high value terrorist targets and President Musharraf will not act, we will.”

Shuster: “Again, Barack Obama was misleading tonight about his own speech”

RSS icon Comments


Clinton/Richardson '08.

Posted by Mr. Poe | August 8, 2007 1:49 PM

NO MORE DEBATES OR TELEVISION COVERAGE OF THE CANDIDATES UNTIL JANUARY 2008!!!!! This is going to to only one thing for the Democrats: make everyone sick and tired of all of them causing voters not to turn out to vote next November (15 months away) when it really counts.

Historical fact: The Democrats only win when there is high voter turn out. (2006 is a great example). And when voters stay home the GOP wins. I have no idea it was to start an election cycle of two years but they should be drug out into the street and beaten for awhile. (well not litterally)

And the other thing this is going to do is give the media (and the Republicans) more sound bites to attack the candidates with.

Finally, Mr Poe, why would we nominate a democrat who Fox news wants to be the nomination? I really would like someone to answer that one for me.

Also, am I the only person who thinks we have not heard from the guy the GOP will end up nominating? My guess is that the GOP will find a "dark horse" candidate sometime this fall who will set up the GOP base.

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | August 8, 2007 1:57 PM

Sorry about the typos above: my bad!

Posted by Cato again | August 8, 2007 1:59 PM

Shuster backtracks:

"The Obama campaign, and others, have pointed out that Obama said in that speech he would work with Pakistan -- before and after those words above. However, in the sentence and context of having "actionable intelligence about Al-Qaeda," Obama did not say he would consult with Musharraf if Musharraf failed to act. Nonetheless, Obama did say the following his speech... "As President, I would make the hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid to Pakistan conditional, and I would make our conditions clear: Pakistan must make substantial progress in closing down the training camps, evicting foreign fighters, and preventing the Taliban from using Pakistan as a staging area for attacks in Afghanistan."

Also: "And Pakistan needs more than F-16s to combat extremism. As the Pakistani government increases investment in secular education to counter radical madrasas, my Administration will increase America's commitment. We must help Pakistan invest in the provinces along the Afghan border, so that the extremists' program of hate is met with one of hope."

Posted by jb1125 | August 8, 2007 2:04 PM

Nit picking.

Posted by longball | August 8, 2007 2:08 PM

Cato, what about 2004? Wasn't turnout extremely high that year? And yet ... we lost. Le sigh.

Posted by arduous | August 8, 2007 2:15 PM

He should have stuck with what he said first.

Pakistan is not our ally, if you pay attention to what they DO, as opposed to what they SAY.

Nor, for that matter, is Saudi Arabia.

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 8, 2007 2:20 PM

I get the feeling Obama is shooting himself in the foot on this one.

We can't let HRC win the nomination...she's likely to lose it for us.

Posted by Dianna | August 8, 2007 2:26 PM

@2 - I agree. The Dems will attack each other for another year before showing any unity. There will be plenty of flip-flopping between now and then which will be fodder after the nomination.

The Republican dark-horse will be Fred Thompson. He's the answer for all the fundies and conservatives that cringe at the thought of a Pres Giuliani or Romney. (Imagine ... another fucking actor President!)

Obama is crumbling under the pressure already. He's this year's Howard Dean. Very strong out of the gates, lots of campaign cash, but the constitution of a hamster.

Posted by Mahtli69 | August 8, 2007 2:32 PM

obama didn't exactly contradict himself there. he clarifies his statement, a statement that was made in the context of these fucking stupid sound-bite debates which are a really bad idea as cato the younger younger(?) stated above. if you put your candidates into highly time constrained situations and ask them complex questions, they are going to give overly simplistic, foolish, and often contradictory answers. this is all just weaponry for the gop.

Posted by douglas | August 8, 2007 2:33 PM

"Finally, Mr Poe, why would we nominate a democrat who Fox news wants to be the nomination? I really would like someone to answer that one for me."

Why would we consider anything Fox News has to say before forming our own opinions? Should I be consulting Fox News before making my own decisions for our nomination? Surely if Fox News says that they want someone to be/do something, the outcome will always be on their side if that someone does.

Posted by Mr. Poe | August 8, 2007 2:37 PM

Douglas - to be clear,

Obama went from saying:

"If President Musharraf will not act, we will."


"If President Musharraf cannot act, we should."

That's a major difference in politico speak.

He went from being extremely hawkish to couching his statements.

Posted by Sam | August 8, 2007 2:49 PM

@ Mr Poe, Fox news has been pushing Hillary to get the nomination. Fox News: The Republican's own network. You should watch just the news coverage on there and Murdoch has given Clinton money as well.

And the GOP dark horse will not be Fred Thompson (he has too many issues for the religous right to support). Like I said the dark horse the GOP picks is unknown to the public yet.

And the 2004 turn out was higher than average (we won with Ohio had the fraud not happened). The real problem is that this lenghtly political season is going to burn out the voter base. Especially since most of the attention is focused on the Democrats.

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | August 8, 2007 2:57 PM

sam, my point is that if you give someone 10 seconds or less to respond to a question with a 4 hour answer as is done in these "debates", this sort of waffling is what you get, the caliber of the person is irrelevant as anyone can fuck up in this kind of situation. if you want your candidates to be consistent then respect the complexity and nuanced nature of the issues they are faced with.

Posted by douglas | August 8, 2007 2:59 PM

I'm disappointed he wussed out and backtracked. Quite frankly, the only difference between Pakistan with Musharraf and without Musharraf is that they'll be openly hostile.

Posted by Gitai | August 8, 2007 3:06 PM


You missed my point. I don't care what Fox News has been pushing. I don't care about the Fox News agenda. I don't make my decisions because of something Fox has to say, and I certainly don't change them because of something Fox has to say.

I'm not trying to explain why I'm for Hillary here. I'm not even for her yet. I would be if she'd knot Richardson. I'm trying to explain that it doesn't mean a goddamn thing to me that Fox is pushing for her nom, or that Murdoch sent her some change.

So if Fox News were to change it up and start pimpin' Obama, would you immediately question why anyone would want to nominate him? Because of that?

And no. I will not watch the Fox News coverage. I avoid Fox News like rape.

Posted by Mr. Poe | August 8, 2007 3:11 PM

Al Gore, where are you?

Posted by Gabriel | August 8, 2007 3:35 PM

Al gore wasn't that good at short-form Q&A either, was he?

Posted by RonK, Seattle | August 8, 2007 3:48 PM

15 -- Pakistan without Musharraf is the Taliban with nuclear weapons. Think about that for a second. They will use them, too.

Posted by Fnarf | August 8, 2007 3:58 PM

Backtrack my ass. Why is Eli "Who's Greg Palast?" Sanders covering the presidential race?

Posted by DOUG. | August 8, 2007 4:07 PM


It would be the Taliban with nukes until they attack another nuclear power. Then it would be a big crater.

Posted by keshmeshi | August 8, 2007 5:13 PM

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