Newly appointed US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta told American troops in Baghdad on Monday that 9/11 was the reason they were in Iraq, before he was quickly corrected by his spokesman.Unless he forgot where he was it's hard to imagine that being a slip of the tongue. It sounds more like a slip of the truth, but who knows. Maybe he was thinking of AQ still being in-country but that doesn't really fit Mother Pea's narrative that we basically created AQ in Iraq by engaging in a dumb war. Or maybe he was thinking more of Hizballah/Iran--the latter having been once again blamed by several high-ranking government officials of supplying weapons to Shia militias who are killing our troops again.
"The reason you guys are here is because of 9/11. The US got attacked and 3,000 human beings got killed because of Al-Qaeda," Panetta told about 150 soldiers at the Camp Victory US base. "We've been fighting as a result of that," he said.
Panetta's spokesman attempted some damage control by saying his boss tends to be "plain spoken". Does he mean 'not prone to BSing,' or 'honest'? Or was he calling his boss dumb? Panetta recently told troops in Afghanistan that 70,000 of them would still be there by 2014, which Reuters called a 'faux pas' since Obama has already promised we're exiting stage left, something else his spokesmen also had to explain although it was also probably not a slip of the tongue.
This WaPo version contains an actual quote from Panetta:
Pressed by reporters to elaborate, Panetta said: “I wasn’t saying, you know, the invasion — or going into the issues or the justification of that. It was more the fact that we really had to deal with al-Qaeda here; they developed a presence here and that tied in.” His aides then intervened and shooed the press corps away.He didn't give a timeline, in other words, he didn't clarify whether AQ was represented by Zarqawi and Ansar al Islam in 2002 triggering the invasion, or by later iterations of AQ in Iraq that formed after the invasion. When tied into his original comment about 9/11 he could get by with saying the invasion was itself dumb, but when AQ showed up we had to deal with them because they attacked us on 9/11.
But even that qualification doesn't exactly square with Obama's narrative, which as late as 2007 was calling for an almost total withdrawal by 2008 save a small contingent to handle counter-terrorism. If indeed AQ is the reason our troops are deployed hither and yon it wouldn't seem logical to pull them out save a few to battle AQ in a collapsing country.
That's not the only bold thing Panetta has said of late. Just a few days ago he stated that we have AQ in a position to where victory is within reach. In other words, we could actually win the war against terrorism, something John Kerry, John Murtha and countless other Democrats thought wasn't possible. I think this signals that a few more big takedown are close at hand.
The NYT weighs in on the weirdness by painting Panetta as a bumbler:
At the Pentagon he has been unleashed to his natural state, schmoozing and holding forth, although his liberation — and new scrutiny of every word he utters as defense secretary — means his staff has to do some tidying up.A couple of observations. One, notice the contrast in reportage between the supposed gaffes and anything a Republican would say cough Sarah Palin cough Michelle Bachmann.
Two, the bumbler defense has been used before by the Dems. Notice the Times felt compelled to list Panetta's age, 73. Why, he just might be suffering from CRS! Forget that it's the same guy who just got bin Laden, he's an Italian, and Italians say the craziest things and are allowed to get away with loose talk even in the highest offices.
When Percy Sutton calmly uttered that Obama had been sponsored for Harvard by Khalid al-Mansour the pushback wasn't that he was lying, but that he was old (in his 80s). Old farts get their facts mixed up don't cha know. When Sandy Berger stole national security documents from the National Archives, stuffing them in his pants and socks and later clipping and destroying them in his apartment, the pushback was that he was an absent-minded frump. Sort of like Oscar Madison. Yet the guy runs a worldwide security consulting firm.
So the question remains--did Panetta simply mean the troops were there because AQ was there and nothing more (regardless of why we went in), or did he slip and utter some tiny truth in that plain-speaking, salty Italian way?