This week, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has come under intense criticism and scrutiny for making multiple false claims about collusion between Iran and al Qaeda. As part of the push back, McCain’s campaign distributed a “Fact Check sheet” citing July 19, 2007 comments by Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno about whether there is an Iran-al Qaeda connection.
But as Washington Post Fact Checker Michael Dobbs points out today, the campaign cut out Odierno’s disclaimer that undercuts McCain. Here’s what the McCain campaign left out:
We don’t see any evidence, significant evidence, that shows that [the Iranian-controlled] groups that are funding and providing arms to Shi’a extremists are directly related to al Qaeda.
Ignoring Odierno’s claim of no “significant evidence,” the McCain campaign’s document focuses on Odierno’s statement that “al Qaeda uses Iran and they do in some cases traffic some of their individuals through Iran to Iraq, but it’s a very small number of people.”
There is no specific connection between the Shi’a extremists — excuse me — the [Iranian] Quds Force operations and supporting the Shi’a extremists and that of al Qaeda, and supporting al Qaeda.
Given the “evidence” provided by the McCain campaign, Dobbs writes that “it is a big stretch to conclude” that “Iran is providing organized support for al Qaeda in Iraq.” Even in the most charitable reading, Dobbs says “McCain is guilty of gross over-simplification on an extremely sensitive national security matter.”