Fox News host Alan Colmes noted that the Bush administration failed to eliminate former Al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi before the start of the Iraq war, despite having had at least three opportunities to do so. Media Matters previously documented that coverage of al-Zarqawi's June 8 death on major cable channels and the broadcast networks neglected to mention reports from 2004 that Zaraqwi could have been eliminated much earlier.
On the June 14 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, co-host Alan Colmes noted that the Bush administration reportedly had as many as three opportunities to eliminate Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the self-proclaimed Al Qaeda leader in Iraq, before the start of the Iraq war. As Media Matters for America documented, in the immediate aftermath of Zarqawi's June 8 killing, extensive reports on the three cable news channels, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News, as well as reports on the broadcast networks, NBC, ABC, and CBS, made no reference to reports from 2004 that the Pentagon provided the administration with several opportunities to eliminate Zarqawi and his terrorist training camp prior to the war but elected to wait because killing Zarqawi "could undercut its case for war against Saddam [Hussein]," as NBC News chief Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski noted at the time.
Colmes made reference to the missed opportunities to eliminate Zarqawi during a discussion with U.S. News & World Report senior writer Michael Barone, who asserted that a November 2005 proposal by Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA) to begin a strategic redeployment of U.S. troops in Iraq would have left Zarqawi alive in Iraq. Colmes responded, "If we actually had followed what the Pentagon wanted to do, we had three chances to kill Zarqawi before we went to war."
From the June 14 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
COLMES: What Democrat wants defeat in Iraq?
BARONE: Well, I think that a lot of Democrats are saying they just want us out of there and that they don't -- John Murtha, for example --
COLMES: It doesn't mean defeat.
BARONE: Well, I think it means that they're acting with disregard for chances of defeat and for happens --
COLMES: That may be your political opinion, but he said -- Murtha was very clear, consistent with the safety of the troops and consistent with other issues that would come into play. He wasn't saying cut and run. And that's what, you know, this idea that Democrats -- you said it, [Fox News political analyst Robert D.] Novak said it -- want us to lose, I think is an unfair slap at good Americans with a different point of view.
BARONE: Well, I think -- I think it's a minority of Democrats that I would describe that way, Alan. I'd like to make that clear. But I think that you do find some people that are acting in reckless disregard of the chances of -- if we'd taken Mr. Murtha's advice last fall and left as precipitously as he wanted us to, Zarqawi would still be there as a terrorist in Iraq.
COLMES: If we actually had followed what the Pentagon wanted to do, we had three chances to kill Zarqawi before we went to war. But let's get to some of these races