Wash. Times editorial distorts Rosa Brooks' statement on Al Qaeda

››› ››› LILY YAN

In an editorial discussing newly appointed Defense Department official Rosa Brooks, The Washington Times wrote that Brooks "has called al Qaeda 'little more than an obscure group of extremist thugs.' " In fact, Brooks used that phrase in 2007 to refer to the view of Al Qaeda in 2001 held by "most experts."

In an April 24 editorial titled, "A disaster for Defense," The Washington Times distorted a quote from Rosa Brooks, an incoming Defense Department official, as evidence that Brooks has "hard-left, rabidly ideological positions on defense matters." The Times claimed Brooks "has called al Qaeda 'little more than an obscure group of extremist thugs.' " In fact, Brooks used that phrase in a July 20, 2007, Los Angeles Times op-ed to refer to the view of Al Qaeda in 2001 held by "most experts." She further wrote that the group was "well financed and intermittently lethal" in 2001 and that, since then, it has become a "vast global threat."

From Brooks' July 20, 2007, LA Times op-ed (with the phrase the Times quoted in bold):

In 2001, administration stalwarts suggested that Osama bin Laden rivaled Hitler in the danger he posed to U.S. security and insisted that Al Qaeda's power was so great that nothing short of a "global war on terror" was required.

At that time, most experts say, this description of Al Qaeda simply wasn't true. It was little more than an obscure group of extremist thugs, well financed and intermittently lethal but relatively limited in their global and regional political pull. On 9/11, they got lucky -- but despite the unexpected success of their attack on the U.S., they did not pose an imminent mortal threat to the nation.

Today, things are different. Thanks to U.S. policies, Al Qaeda has become the vast global threat the administration imagined it to be in 2001. Our ham-handed detention and interrogation tactics and our ill-advised invasion of Iraq have alienated vast swathes of the Islamic world, fueling extremism and anti-Americanism. Today, Al Qaeda is no longer a single organization. Now it's a franchise, with new gangs of terrorists around the world proudly seizing the "Al Qaeda" affiliation.

From the April 24 Washington Times editorial:

A review of Ms. Brooks' published work reveals her hard-left, rabidly ideological positions on defense matters. She regularly referred to Mr. Bush as a war criminal, and argues that Bush-era policies on terrorism -- which prevented any major attacks on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001 -- made America less secure. Referring to Mr. Bush and former Vice President Richard Cheney, she wrote, "They should be treated like psychotics who need treatment." She has called al Qaeda "little more than an obscure group of extremist thugs" and wrongly predicted that the surge in Iraq was "a feckless plan" that would prove "too little, too late." Putting her in the policy shop "is like Lyndon Johnson making Jane Fonda a senior adviser on Vietnam," the former Pentagon adviser says. She frequently criticizes what she sees as a pro-Israel bias in U.S. policy.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, Terrorism
Network/Outlet
The Washington Times
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