A refresher on President Obama’s al Qaeda rhetoric

Updated
President Barack Obama and Yemen's president Abdo Rabby Mansour Hadi shake hands, Aug. 1, 2013.
President Barack Obama and Yemen's president Abdo Rabby Mansour Hadi shake hands, Aug. 1, 2013.
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Top Story: Forget the pile-on, the embassy closings are in line with what the president has said about the war on terrorism (well, at least since about October).

  • A lot of people are wondering how the embassy closings square with President Obama’s “Obama bin Laden is dead” national security record. (The Hill)
  • And this has become a bigger question after we learned today that the intelligence that led to closed diplomatic outposts was intercepted communications between Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri and the leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula agreeing they “wanted something big to happen.” (NBC News)
  • Consequently, it’s been like Halloween on Twitter for conservatives. (Townhall), (John Nolte), (Jim Treacher)
  • Mark Levin: “Al Qaeda is alive and Obama’s been golfing…”(Mark Levin)
  • Of course, the critics forget a few things in regard to Obama’s rhetoric and the war on terror. Context mainly. For starters, here’s what the president actually said during that second October debate: “Al Qaeda’s core leadership has been decimated.” (Marc Caputo)
  • The term “core leadership” is the key. That’s different than AQ as a whole. The group led by Ayman al-Zawahiri is al Qaeda “core”. And yes, the “core” has been decimated. (Stratfor)
  • And lest you think this some sort of verbal sleight-of-hand, it’s in line with the broader themes Obama articulated at a very important May 23rd speech at the National Defense University: “The core of al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan is on the path to defeat.” (White House)
  • “What we’ve seen is the emergence of various al Qaeda affiliates, from Yemen to Iraq, from Somalia to North Africa.” (NPR Politics)
  • “So that’s the current threat — lethal yet less capable al Qaeda affiliates.” (White House)
  • And yet here’s how the Republican chair of the Homeland Security Committee heard that speech: “The narrative is sort of that, you know, al Qaeda is on the run. They’re defeated, let’s claim victory, war’s over. And then, let’s go back to a pre-9/11 mentality. He actually said that the threat now is what it was before 9/11. I couldn’t disagree with him more on that.” (The Hill)
  • This isn’t to say President Obama and his press secretary always have been careful with their language. For one, we no longer hear about al Qaeda being “on their heels.” (The Cable)
  • Also, it doesn’t help when media outlets are told that terms like “associated forces” of al Qaeda are classified and thus vague and open to interpretation. (Pro Publica)

A refresher on President Obama’s al Qaeda rhetoric

Updated