Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) wastes few opportunities to criticize the White House’s troop drawdown timetable in Afghanistan, but his latest criticism of the Obama administration falls back on conjuring up an implausible future terrorist attack conducted from within Afghanistan.
Lieberman told Fox News Sunday:
We’re [in Afghanistan] because we were attacked from here on 9/11. If we don’t succeed here and the Taliban comes back into power we’ll be attacked again. And there could be no greater threat to our security and our freedom, the freedom we celebrate on July 4th.
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Lieberman’s conflation of the Taliban and Al Qaeda and his dire warnings about a resurgent terrorist threat from within Afghanistan’s borders are in direct contradiction with the White House’s position that Al Qaeda in Afghanistan is no longer a threat to the U.S. A senior administration official told Business Insider:
There is no indication at all that there is any effort within Afghanistan to use Afghanistan as a launching pad to carry out attacks outside of Afghan borders.
And CIA Director Leon Panetta told ABC News:
I think the estimate on the number of Al Qaeda [in Afghanistan] is actually relatively small. At most, we’re looking at 50 to 100, maybe less. It’s in that vicinity. There’s no question that the main location of Al Qaeda is in the tribal areas of Pakistan.
While Lieberman is quick to throw around the threat of a terrorist attack as grounds for criticizing the president’s troop drawdown timetable, consistent reports about the diminishing presence of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan undermine his sensationalist warnings.