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.

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