11/22/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

On al Qaeda Supporting McCain

Back in April, the seeds of the smear campaign against Senator Obama were being planted. What now has become "palling around with terrorists" began in April, when John McCain and his campaign started dropping the talking points that Barack Obama was the choice of Hamas, as if Obama had sought that statement of support.

In response to reporters' questions as to whether McCain stood by a fundraising letter which made the point, McCain said, "All I can tell you... is that I think it's very clear who Hamas wants to be the next president of the United States. So apparently has Danny Ortega and several others. I think that people should understand that I will be Hamas's worst nightmare....If Senator Obama is favored by Hamas, I think people can make judgments accordingly."

Right wing blogs went nuts. RightWingNews blared the headline, "Hamas Endorses Obama? Can Hizbollah And Al-Qaeda Be Far Behind?"

Well, yes, al Qaeda wasn't far behind. Today, they expressed a preference for Senator McCain. To revise what Senator McCain said above, "If Senator McCain is favored by al Qaeda, I think people can make judgments accordingly..."

In a message on an al Qaeda website, terrorists wrote of continuing the war in Iraq, "This requires presence of an impetuous American leader such as McCain, who pledged to continue the war till the last American soldier," the message said. "Then, al-Qaida will have to support McCain in the coming elections so that he continues the failing march of his predecessor, Bush."

There's no question that continuing the war in Iraq would prolong the strain that our military is facing, trying to fight a two-front war, and that continuing in Iraq saps resources in the fight against al Qaeda, where they are based - the border region of Pakistan/Afghanistan. Al Qaeda would be much worse off if the U.S. shifted priority from Iraq to going on the offense in Afghanistan, as Senator Obama has proposed.

But there's something else at play, here. The war in Iraq, as well as saber rattling against Iran by McCain and those who surround him, like Joe Lieberman, are an excellent recruiting tool for al Qaeda. That's not a new notion. The International Institute for Strategic Studies reported back in 2004 that the war in Iraq was pretty helpful to al Qaeda's efforts to gain new recruits, as it sought to rebuild its strength after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.

Of course, this "endorsement" shouldn't itself influence voters, as Hamas' statement on Obama shouldn't. The American people shouldn't base their votes on the basis of what maniacs say.

But it once again underscores the question of who would be stronger in the fight against al Qaeda, which candidate is proposing a stronger plan to go after those who attacked us on 9/11, and which is for continuing the policy that has allowed al Qaeda to gain recruits and regain strength.

Crossposted at