In an interview with ABC News’s Jake Tapper yesterday, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) argued that “we can crack down on threats against the United States” while staying “within the constraints of our Constitution.” He added that the Bush administration’s approach has “given a huge boost to terrorist recruitment in countries that say, ‘Look, this is how the United States treats Muslims.’”
Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) presidential campaign is now trying to attack Obama over a reference to the first World Trade Center attack in the interview, accusing him of embracing a “mindset” that “contributed to the tragedy of September 11th.” On the McCain campaign blog, Michael Goldfarb takes issue with Obama’s “gall” for suggesting that Bush policies have helped “terrorist recruitment”:
Obama wants to take us back to the bad old days of going after terrorists with prosecutors rather than predators. And he even has the gall to blame the Bush administration’s methods as having been a boon to terrorist recruitment. With all the international credibility the Clinton administration earned, and the international terrorists they incapacitated, one wonders how bin Laden even recruited 19 men to attack this country on September 11.
This is a curious line of argument coming from Goldfarb. Soon before he was “detailed” to the McCain campaign, Goldfarb declared on the Weekly Standard blog, “As to whether Bush is a recruiting tool for terrorists — who cares?”
What’s more, Bush’s policies have actually helped terrorist recruitment. Just today, staunch McCain ally Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) noted during a Senate Armed Services hearing that Abu Ghraib had inspired people to “join al Qaeda in Iraq.” Watch it:
An April 2006 National Intelligence Estimate found that “the Iraq War has become the ’cause celebre’ for jihadists…and is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives.” A McClatchy investigation published today “found that instead of confining terrorists, Guantanamo often produced more of them” by “inspiring a deep hatred of the United States” in “men with no allegiance to radical Islam.”
LIEBERMAN: So this is an important matter, but obviously we’re a nation, as my colleagues have said or I need not belabor it, that is a nation of law. And therefore, to me, the standard that we have to hold up in our attempts to obtain information from detainees is: is it legal? And is it effective? In other words, does it produce information that is helpful or does it have other effects that might produce, as Dr. Ogrisseg said in response to Sen. Graham, information that’s not truthful. Or, in the larger context, as we’ve seen after Abu Ghraib, might it affect our standing generally and our effectiveness in the war on terrorism. I remember once being with Sen. McCain and Sen. Graham, meeting at Camp Bucca in Iraq, meeting — which is a large detention center — meeting a former member of al Qaeda in Iraq, who said that one of the reason he was motivated to join al Qaeda in Iraq was what he heard had happened at Abu Ghraib, so, this is important stuff.