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McCain Repeats Iran-Al Qaeda Gaffe Yet Again

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Sen. John McCain has done it again.

For the third time in two days, the Arizona Republican has pushed the definitively false statement that the terrorist group Al-Qaeda was getting assistance from Iran, even though he was publicly ridiculed for the same false assertion on Tuesday.

This time, in a statement from his campaign honoring the fifth year anniversary of the war, McCain wrote:

"Today in Iraq, America and our allies stand on the precipice of winning a major victory against radical Islamic extremism. The security gains over the past year have been dramatic and undeniable. Al Qaeda and Shia extremists -- with support from external powers such as Iran -- are on the run but not defeated."

On Tuesday, the senator, appearing in Israel, made a nearly identical assertion that al-Qaeda was leaving Iraq to retool and regroup in Iran.

It was, he said, "common knowledge and has been reported in the media that al-Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran, that's well known. And it's unfortunate."

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who was accompanying McCain on the trip, was forced to lean over and whisper in McCain's ear that it was Shiite extremists, not Sunni al-Qaeda, that was going to predominantly Shiite Iran.

The repeated gaffes, which now appear to becoming something of a pattern, have already become fodder for McCain's Democratic opponents.

"Either John McCain is purposely playing politics with the facts on the ground or he doesn't understand the threat facing Iraq and our brave troops," said DNC Communications Director Karen Finney. "Either way, after five years of the Bush Administration's incompetence and deception on Iraq, the American people don't want four more years of a president who will cherry-pick the facts."

And speaking today, Sen. Barack Obama, used the misstatements as evidence that McCain's claims of foreign policy experience do not give him a superior understanding or judgment of the terrorist threat or Iraq policy.

"Just yesterday, we heard Sen. McCain confuse Sunni and Shiite, Iran and Al Qaeda," said Obama. "Maybe that is why he voted to go to war with a country that had no Al Qaeda ties. Maybe that is why he completely fails to understand that the war in Iraq has done more to embolden America's enemies than any strategic choice that we have made in decades."