McCain Gets Petty On Susan Rice Attacks: It’s ‘Meaningless To Take Out Core Al-Qaeda’

John McCain

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said on Wednesday that it is “meaningless” that al-Qaeda’s core leadership — including presumably, Osama bin Laden — has been wiped out over the last four years. Why would McCain make such a claim? Probably because U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice recently said the opposite.

As it is well known by now, McCain has been throwing everything and anything at Rice in an attempt to derail her potential nomination as the next Secretary of State. And now that all of his attacks have been debunked or discredited, the Arizona Republican is picking at every little detail of Rice’s Sept. 16 remarks in which she explained what the Obama administration knew at that time about the Sept. 11 Benghazi attacks.

On CBS’s Face the Nation that day, Rice said that the U.S. has “decimated al Qaeda” since President Obama took office. But Rice has since said she wished she chose her words more carefully, saying she would rather have said the “core” of the terror group has been decimated not the entirety of al-Qaeda. But McCain isn’t having it, here’s what he said on Fox News last night:

MCCAIN: She said, well, maybe I should have said “core,” that we have decimated core Al Qaeda. Well, first of all, that’s a directly — vastly different from what she actually said. And number two, is that really is kind of meaningless to take out core Al Qaeda.

Also during the same Fox segment, McCain complained that the Obama administration doesn’t know as much about the Benghazi attack as it did about the raid that killed bin Laden. “After the raid that took out bin Laden, we knew every single detail, as you know, within 24 hours, absolute total details,” he grumbled, adding, “But yet here we are 10 or 11 weeks later, and we still don’t know the basics of what happened [in Benghazi].” Watch the clips:

Al-Qaeda’s “core” leadership has indeed been decimated. Dozens of al-Qaeda leaders have been killed in drone strikes, bin Laden is dead, and as a result, one terror expert Peter Bergen explained, “al Qaeda has one senior leader left, Ayman al-Zawahiri” who “inherited the Blockbuster Video of global jihad and has done nothing to resuscitate it”:

Al Qaeda hasn’t conducted a successful attack in the West since the bombings on London’s transportation system seven years ago that killed 52 commuters. And the terrorist group, of course, hasn’t carried out an attack in the States since 9/11.

And the Obama administration does not portend to have eliminated al Qaeda. “The goal that I set — to defeat al Qaeda and deny it a chance to rebuild — is now within our reach,” President Obama said in May.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta backed up Rice’s comments last week at an event in Washington, D.C. “Over the last few years, Al Qaeda’s leadership ranks have been decimated. This includes the loss of four of Al Qaeda’s five top leaders in the last two and a half years alone — Osama bin Laden, Sheikh Saeed al-Masri, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman and Abu Yahya al-Libi,” Panetta said.

And of course the Obama administration knows more about the bin Laden raid than it does about the attacks in Benghazi. The United States government conceived of, led and executed the assault that killed the al-Qaeda leader. And as such, the White House probably knows more about that than it does a seemingly half-baked terror operation in Benghazi it had nothing to do with.