This morning on Meet The Press, David Gregory twice asserted that, in May, President Obama declared that “al Qaeda has been defeated.” Gregory used that claim to advance a theory that Obama was simply not concerned enough about al Qaeda in advance of the attack on the American embassy in Libya. Here’s the transcript:
GREGORY: The President has said as recently as May of this year that al Qaeda has not had a chance to rebuild, that al Qaeda has been defeated. There is an election on, as we’ve been talking about, and the President’s challenger said plain and simple, the President failed to level with the American people and call this a terrorist attack, because you had to be concerned about another terrorist attack from al Qaeda in the Middle East after the President said that al Qaeda had been defeated.
That is not, however, what Obama said in May. Gregory was apparently referring to an address that Obama delivered from Afghanistan in May on the one year anniversary of Osama Bin Laden’s death. Here is what Obama said:
And one year ago, from a base here in Afghanistan, our troops launched the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. The goal that I set — to defeat al Qaeda and deny it a chance to rebuild — is now within our reach.
Still, there will be difficult days ahead. The enormous sacrifices of our men and women are not over.
So, the truth is that Obama did not say al Qaeda had already been defeated and specifically acknowledged that there were “difficult days” and “enormous sacrifices” yet to come.