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a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

He regrets the error

Posted by Thomas Nephew on November 16th, 2004

David Brooks, “The CIA versus Bush,” New York Times, 11/13/2004:

Not that it will do him much good at this point, but I owe John Kerry an apology. I recently mischaracterized some comments he made to Larry King in December 2001. I said he had embraced the decision to use Afghans to hunt down Al Qaeda at Tora Bora. He did not. I regret the error.

(Via Bob Somerby) Here’s what Brooks regrets — from “Osama Litmus Test,” New York Times, 10/30/2004:

But politics has shaped Kerry’s approach to this whole issue. Back in December 2001, when bin Laden was apparently hiding in Tora Bora, Kerry supported the strategy of using Afghans to hunt him down. He told Larry King that our strategy “is having its impact, and it is the best way to protect our troops and sort of minimalize the proximity, if you will. I think we have been doing this pretty effectively, and we should continue to do it that way.”

But then the political wind shifted, and Kerry recalculated. Now Kerry calls the strategy he supported “outsourcing.” When we rely on allies everywhere else around the world, that’s multilateral cooperation, but when Bush does it in Afghanistan, it’s “outsourcing.” In Iraq, Kerry supports using local troops to chase insurgents, but in Afghanistan he is in post hoc opposition.

(emphasis on “strategy” added) The relevant part of the Larry King 12/14/2001 interview with Kerry (again, via Somerby):

CALLER: Hello. Yes, I would like to ask the panel why they don’t use napalm or flame-throwers on those tunnels and caves up there in Afghanistan?

KING: Senator Kerry?

CALLER: My golly, I think they could smoke him out.

KING: Senator Kerry?

KERRY: Well, I think it depends on where you are tactically. They may well be doing that at some point in time. But for the moment, what we are doing, I think, is having its impact and it is the best way to protect our troops and sort of minimalize the proximity, if you will. I think we have been doing this pretty effectively and we should continue to do it that way.

(Emphasis on “tactically” added.) So Kerry was saying there might be better tactics than flamethrowers, he wasn’t saying anything about the wisdom of relying heavily on hired Afghan warlord troops.

Just all for the record. See Somerby for appropriate commentary, especially about the spectacular hackery of Tim “I’m the sorriest excuse for a journalist ever, Big Russ” Russert. But yes, Brooks gets a brownie point for admitting what a sorry hack he is. Does anyone ever check the record, or do they just all regurgitate what ever the fax from the White House says?

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