In today’s White House press briefing, spokeswoman Dana Perino tried to justify President Bush’s escalation in Iraq by stating, “The terrorists that are seeking a safe haven in Iraq, if we were to leave, would find one, just like they had one in Afghanistan.” When reporter Helen Thomas asked how she knows that statement is true, Perino replied, “Well, based on experience from September 11th, that’s how we know it.” Thomas then quickly said, “September 11th had nothing to do with Iraq.” Watch it:
As the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded, Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Additionally, a new survey of military and diplomatic analysts concludes that “the likelihood that enemy combatants from Iraq might follow departing U.S. forces back to the United States is remote at best.” The danger is that staying in Iraq is breeding more new terrorists by the day.
UPDATE: Last week, Vice President Cheney also tried to tie Iraq to 9/11, telling Rush Limbaugh that “Al Qaida [is] operating in Iraq. And as I say, they were present before we invaded Iraq.”
QUESTION: And so escalation of the war is a change of policy?
PERINO: We can go back over all the things that the president said in January. But there are a couple of key points.
QUESTION: (inaudible) change of policy when we escalate the war?
PERINO: A couple of key points.
What the president said is that we needed to agree with the Iraqis, that we needed to try to transition power to them more quickly for their Iraqi security forces. But the key issue was that violence in Baghdad was so great that the president realized, after talking to his military advisers, that to leave would be very harmful to the region and to our country, but to stay and try to quell the violence in Baghdad…
QUESTION: Why? Because they’re going to come and attack us?
PERINO: The terrorists that are seeking a safe haven in Iraq, if we were to leave, would find one, just like they had one in Afghanistan and they…
QUESTION: How do you know that?
PERINO: Well, based on experience from September 11th, that’s how we know it.
QUESTION: September 11th had nothing to do with Iraq.