In a new video posted today on the Internet, al Qaeda's number two man, Ayman al Zawahiri, mocks the bill passed by Congress setting a timetable for the pullout of U.S. troops in Iraq.The video was just released this morning, so it had to be in the news, and Wallace had to ask about it. Apparently, Chris Dodd has zero flexibility of mind, because he just trotted out his prepared message, even though it was ludicrously inapt.
"This bill will deprive us of the opportunity to destroy the American forces which we have caught in a historic trap," Zawahiri says in answer to a question posed to him an interviewer.
Continuing in the same tone, Zawahiri says, "We ask Allah that they only get out of it after losing 200,000 to 300,000 killed, in order that we give the spillers of blood in Washington and Europe an unforgettable lesson."
DODD: ... [T]his is a civil war going on in Iraq. This is not the United States versus Al Qaida. It's Shia versus Sunnis tearing each other apart. It's gone on for centuries, but particularly here right now.Ridiculous, but maybe no one was listening. Conceivably, everyone but me changed channels when he gave a 52-word answer to Wallace's invitation to state the message of his campaign in "bumper sticker" form.
The United States is being asked to, in a sense, referee a civil war. And at $2 billion a week, $8 billion a month, Americans believe that we have done all we can possibly do, and Iraqis have to decide whether or not they want to end this civil war and the sectarian violence.
The idea that this is a winnable conflict by the United States -- every military leader from the very outset have said this is not a situation where there's a military victory for us here.
That was the conclusion of the Baker-Hamilton report, the conclusion of General Casey, General Dempsey. Every senior military official who's been involved, Chris, in Iraq has said from the very beginning there is not a military solution to Iraq here.
So the point has arrived, I think, for all of us that the status quo is unacceptable and that we should begin redeploying our troops.
WALLACE: But, Senator, if I can just press this point, though...
WALLACE: ... Here you have Zawahiri in a video -- he seems to think that Al Qaida has a stake in this fight.
DODD: Well, they may think that, but I'm not going to let my foreign policy be decided by Mr. al-Zawahiri. Obviously, he's playing his game here.
He'd probably like to see us stay down there, bogged down, at the costs we're increasing here, the loss of lives, not to mention the isolation of the United States. The status quo is unacceptable.
The American people are so far ahead of Washington on this issue. They want a change in policy, a change in direction.
We should begin that redeployment, in my view, and begin to do the things we should have been doing a long time ago, recommended by senior people of both political parties, senior knowledgeable people about the Middle East, and that is to begin to work the diplomatic, political, economic side of this issue to help Iraq achieve that stability we've been talking about.
You're not going to achieve it, Chris, when you've got 60 percent of the Iraqi people think it's all right to kill Americans. Eighty percent think we're the cause of the chaos in their country.
You need a change in policy here. That's what we're trying to achieve. The president wants the status quo. That makes us less secure and more isolated, in my view.
I also caught George Tenet on "Meet the Press," but I haven't got time to write about it, as I've got to rush off to that review session. I'll just say it was rather painful to listen to that man try to justify himself. And Tim Russert hung him out to dry about what he wrote Richard Perle said to him the day after the 9/11 attacks. Oh, how Tenet coughed and spluttered trying to salvage his credibility on that one.
UPDATE: I wrote and posted this email from a coffeehouse on State Street, then rushed up the hill to the Law School for the review session. Along the way, I passed some new graffiti:
No war but class war
All war is civil war
And here's the "Meet the Press" transcript. This is the part I was talking about:
MR. RUSSERT: You open the book with these words: "Wednesday, September 12, 2001, dawned as the first full day of a world gone mad. As I walked beneath the awning that leads to the West Wing, [I] saw Richard Perle exiting the building just as I was about to enter. As the doors closed behind him, we made eye contact and nodded. I had just reached the door myself when Perle turned to me and said, `Iraq has to pay a price for what happened yesterday. They bear responsibility.' I looked back at Perle and thought: Who has [he] been meeting with in the White House so early in the morning on today of all days?"
Perle yesterday sent MEET THE PRESS this statement: "George Tenet tells his readers that on September 12," "'today of all days' I told him that Iraq was responsible for the attack of' September 11. "This false claim is an obvious attempt to escape the responsibility for the intelligence failures of the agency he headed. But more important, it shows that even five years later he fails to understand that the decision to remove Saddam was based on the danger posed by Iraq, especially Saddam's possession of weapons of mass destruction--the certainty of which was repeated in every intelligence report and briefing I received from the CIA and other intelligence agencies. I was out of the country on" September 11, "unable to return until September 15. When I did run into Mr. Tenet at the White House a week later, we had already concluded that al-Qaeda was responsible for" September 11. "I never made the remark Tenet attributes to me, or anything like it."
MR. TENET: We, we, we had not concluded that al-Qaeda was responsible for September 11. That conversation may have, may have occurred days later. It is the conversation that I--that, that occurred, and I stand by what happened that day.
MR. RUSSERT: He said those words to you.
MR. TENET: Yes, he did. And so for him to say that we had concluded that al-Qaeda was responsible for 9/11, well, I'd like to know who made that conclusion.
MR. RUSSERT: When you say "yesterday" and "today of all days"?
MR. TENET: Well, Tim, I, I obviously--this is a jumbled, very difficult period of time. I may be off by a few days. What he said seems to be corroborated by what he said to another journalist. Mr. Novak has said he was called on September 17, and Mr. Perle said something like, "Well, aren't enough--there aren't enough targets in Afghanistan; let's go to Iraq.' And it's--it also is corroborative of the fact that he sent a letter to the president on September the 20 that mirrors those feelings. So I may have been off on the day, but I'm not off on what he said and what he believed."