In an interview yesterday with NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) dismissed criticism of his multiple false claims that Iranian operatives are “taking al-Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back” by claiming that he “corrected it immediately.” “I don’t claim that I won’t misspeak on occassion, but I will correct it immediately,” said McCain.
Asked if it’s “a fair question” to wonder if it was more than “simply a slip of a tongue,” McCain replied that “to think that I would have some lack of knowledge about Sunni and Shia after my eigth visit and my deep involvement in this issue is a bit ludicrous.” Watch it:
Just as McCain’s initial assertion about Iran training al Qaeda was false, his claim that he “corrected it immediately” is also false. In fact, McCain made the claim at least three times on two separate occasions. He corrected himself only after the third utterance when Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) whispered in his ear.
While NBC aired only a snippet of O’Donnell’s interview, in the full video, which is posted online, McCain also played the common conservative game of using “intentionally deceptive language” to blur “the differences between groups with different goals and ideologies in order to create the illusion of a united Islamofascist enemy”:
Al Qaeda is military. Al Qaeda is killing Americans as we speak. Islamic extremists are being trained in Iran and they are being sent back into Iran, I mean into Iraq.
Making a false claim and then making it again is the opposite of the correcting it immediately. It’s also the opposite of “straight talk.”
KELLY O’DONNELL: I’d like to ask you about a moment yesterday when you were speaking about the influence of Iran and there was a gaffe, if you’d call it that. When you described Iran aiding al Qaeda, does that suggest that your depth of knowledge on some of the cultural issues may not be as great as some of your military knowledge?
JOHN MCCAIN: Al Qaeda is military. Al Qaeda is killing Americans as we speak. Islamic extremists are being trained in Iran and they are being sent back into Iran, I mean into Iraq. And explosive devices, these copper ones, which we just discovered, uncovered a large cache, are killing American soldiers. We should care about that. We should care about Iranians who are sending these lethal devices, the most lethal devices, into Iraq and killing Americans. That’s what I care about. That’s what the subject is. I just simply misspoke when I said al Qaeda. But they are training extremists and they are sending the most lethal devices that are killing Americans. That’s what we should care about.
O’DONNELL: Do you feel comfortable with understanding the differences between the Shia and Sunni political agendas?
MCCAIN: In all due respect, that was my eighth visit to Iraq. I am constantly briefed. I am constantly engaged in this issue. I’ve been involved in every major national security challenge this nation has faced for the last 20 years.
O’DONNELL: I ask it respectfully because people did notice that you made this comment and wondered, was it simply a slip of the tongue…
MCCAIN: I corrected it immediately. I corrected it, my comment immediately. I don’t claim that I won’t misspeak on occassion, but I will correct it immediately. Ha ha ha, I’m astonished. Frankly, I’m astonished.
O’DONNELL: You don’t think that’s a fair question?
MCCAIN: I think anything is a fair question, but to think that I would have some lack of knowledge about Sunni and Shia after my eigth visit and my deep involvement in this issue is a bit ludicrous.
McCain also made a broad assertion of collusion between al Qaeda and Iran in February 2008.