Leon Panetta seems to be confused about what administration he works for. On a world tour of America’s endless wars, the new defense secretary said to a gathering of troops in Iraq, “The reason you guys are here is because on 9/11 the United States got attacked.” And one of the reasons Panetta’s boss is in the White House is because he took a more realistic view.
Panetta later 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-Qaida here; they developed a presence here and that tied in.”
That smells more like damage control than an explanation for a claim that has been roundly refuted since before the United States invaded in 2003.
Short of a few stubborn neoconservatives, the world has moved on from this and other lies used by the Bush administration to justify a war that was either about oil, money, projecting American power or some combination of the three. So why is Barack Obama’s new defense secretary repeating such rubbish? —PZS
The Washington Post:
The reason you guys are here is because on 9/11 the United States got attacked,” Panetta told the troops. “And 3,000 Americans — 3,000 not just Americans, 3,000 human beings, innocent human beings — got killed because of al-Qaeda. And we’ve been fighting as a result of that.”
His statement echoed previous comments made by President George W. Bush and members of his administration, who tried to tie Saddam Hussein’s government to al-Qaeda. But it put Panetta at odds with President Obama, the 9/11 Commission and other independent experts, who have said there is no evidence al-Qaeda had a presence in Iraq before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
U.S. Air Force / Tech. Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, left, and U.S. Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, commander of U.S. Forces Iraq, fly in a Black Hawk helicopter over Baghdad.