POLITICS
04/16/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

John McCain Repeats Al-Qaida Shiite Confusion

John McCain again confused Shiites and Sunnis during today's Senate Armed Services hearing, undermining suggestions that the conflation is simply a "McCain moment."

In the past month, the veneer of Sen. John McCain's foreign policy expertise has been muddied by his repeated confusion of Sunnis and Shiites. During his Middle East tour, McCain repeatedly claimed that al-Qaida, a Sunni terrorist organization, was receiving funding and training from Shia Iran. Only later, after Sen. Joe Lieberman whispered a correction in his ear, did McCain acknowledge his error. Nevertheless, MCain has since repeated the mistake.

Lieberman's lesson has not quite sunk in, it seems. While questioning Gen. David Petraeus about the presence of foreign fighters, McCain referred to al-Qaida in Iraq as a Shia organization. Realizing his error, he quickly added a reference to Sunnis:

JOHN MCCAIN: "There are numerous threats to security in Iraq and the future of Iraq. Do you still view al-Qaeda in Iraq as a major threat?"

GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS: "It is a major threat. Though it is certainly as not as major a threat as it was say, 15 months ago."

MCCAIN: "Certainly not an obscure sect of the Shias overall?

PETRAEUS: "No, sir."

MCCAIN: "Or Sunnis or anybody else then?

Read HuffPost's full coverage of the Petraeus hearing.