MSNBC military analyst Jacobs misquoted Obama, asserted: "Obama doesn't know what he's talking about"

››› ››› KATHLEEN HENEHAN & JEREMY HOLDEN

Discussing a comment Sen. Barack Obama made about Al Qaeda in Iraq during the February 26 Democratic presidential debate, MSNBC military analyst Jack Jacobs misquoted Obama and also stated: "Obama doesn't know what he's talking about. ... I think it would be useful if he found out what was actually going on."

On the February 28 edition of MSNBC Live, while purporting to assess "who is right" in what anchor Contessa Brewer called a "rapid-fire exchange over Al Qaeda in Iraq" between Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain, MSNBC military analyst Jack Jacobs asserted, "Obama doesn't know what he's talking about," and stated, "I think it would be useful if he found out what was actually going on." But in supporting his claims, Jacobs misquoted what Obama said about Al Qaeda in Iraq during the February 26 Democratic presidential debate, falsely claiming that Obama said: "I think if there's Al Qaeda in Iraq, we'll go in -- we'll go back in there." In fact, what Obama said during the debate was, "if Al Qaeda is forming a base in Iraq, then we will have to act in a way that secures the American homeland and our interests abroad. So that is true, I think, not just in Iraq, but that's true in other places. That's part of my argument with respect to Pakistan." At no point did he say, as Jacobs -- and McCain himself -- suggested, that Al Qaeda does not currently have a presence in Iraq.

At a February 27 town hall meeting in Texas, McCain said: "I am told that Senator Obama made the statement that if Al Qaeda came back to Iraq after he withdraws -- after the American troops are withdrawn -- then he would send military troops back, if Al Qaeda established a military base in Iraq. I have some news: Al Qaeda is in Iraq. Al Qaeda -- it's called Al Qaeda in Iraq." By asserting that "Al Qaeda is in Iraq," McCain falsely suggested that Obama had said the opposite.

Jacobs also asserted that Obama was "right" in the exchange with McCain when he said at a campaign event following McCain's February 27 comment that "there was no such thing as Al Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq." Jacobs said: "There was no Al Qaeda in Iraq until we went in there and deposed Saddam Hussein, who was doing a very good job of knocking off -- brutally, I might add -- everybody who opposed him, including all the Muslim revolutionaries." Yet, despite asserting that Obama was right, Jacobs then went on to assert: "But John McCain's also right; Obama doesn't know what he's talking about. And I think that it would be useful if before he says something, like, 'I think if there's Al Qaeda in Iraq, we'll go in -- we'll go back in there,' I think it would be useful if he found out what was actually going on."

During the debate, Obama was responding to a question from NBC Washington bureau chief Tim Russert. Following an exchange with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in which Russert asked, "[I]f this scenario plays out and the Americans get out in total and al Qaeda resurges and Iraq goes to hell, do you hold the right, in your mind as American president, to re-invade, to go back into Iraq to stabilize it? Russert went on to ask Obama "[D]o you reserve a right as American president to go back into Iraq, once you have withdrawn, with sizable troops in order to quell any kind of insurrection or civil war?" " Obama replied:

OBAMA: Now, I always reserve the right for the president -- as commander in chief, I will always reserve the right to make sure that we are looking out for American interests. And if Al Qaeda is forming a base in Iraq, then we will have to act in a way that secures the American homeland and our interests abroad. So that is true, I think, not just in Iraq, but that's true in other places. That's part of my argument with respect to Pakistan.

I think we should always cooperate with our allies and sovereign nations in making sure that we are rooting out terrorist organizations, but if they are planning attacks on Americans, like what happened in 9/11, it is my job -- it will be my job as president to make sure that we are hunting them down.

From the noon ET hour of the February 28 edition of MSNBC Live:

BREWER: Barack Obama and John McCain, taking aim at each other in a rapid-fire exchange over Al Qaeda in Iraq. The Republican presidential hopeful criticizing Obama's view of the terror group in Iraq, and Obama quick to fire back, saying GOP policies brought the terrorist group to Iraq in the first place. Joining us now is retired Army colonel and MSNBC military analyst Jack Jacobs. All right. Let's play what they actually said and then get your reaction.

[begin video clip]

McCAIN: I have some news. Al Qaeda is in Iraq. Al Qaeda -- it's called Al Qaeda in Iraq.

OBAMA: I have some news for John McCain. And that is that there was no such thing as Al Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq.

[end video clip]

BREWER: I believe -- I believe that's pretty much what I said leading up to the sound bites. But that aside, who is right?

JACOBS: They're both right. There was no Al Qaeda in Iraq until we went in there and deposed Saddam Hussein, who was doing a very good job of knocking off -- brutally, I might add -- everybody who opposed him, including all the Muslim revolutionaries. But John McCain's also right; Obama doesn't know what he's talking about. And I think that it would be useful if before he says something, like, "I think if there's Al Qaeda in Iraq, we'll go in -- we'll go back in there," I think it would be useful if he found out what was actually going on.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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