President Obama has faced scrutiny over conflicting claims he has made about terrorism in al Qaida, while on the one hand he claims the organization is on the run and on the other where he said their threat is so dangerous that the government had to close scores of embassies throughout the world.
During the 2012 election, the Obama campaign frequently claimed victory in the war on terror and took pains to suggest it was a result of his leadership rather than that of his predecessor, George W. Bush. Vice- President Joe Biden frequently echoed the line, “Bin Laden is dead and GM is alive.” President Obama said similar statements saying al Qaida was on the run.
In an attempt to bolster this narrative the administration claimed a terrorist attack at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on September 11 was the result of a filmmaker who produced a film that offended Muslims, despite clear evidence it was a terrorist attack.
However, last week the State Department announced it would be closing embassies and consulates around the world in response to a credible threat from al Qaida. While lawmakers from both parties have said the closures were the right thing to do, it does appear to be a contradiction from Obama’s campaign statements.
When pressed on the issue during a press conference on Friday, Obama attempted to parse words saying this al Qaida was not the same al Qaida he was referring to last year.
“It’s entirely consistent to say that this tightly organized and relatively centralized al Qaeda that attacked us on 9/11 has been broken apart and is very weak and does not have a lot of operational capacity and to say we still have these regional organizations, like AQAP, that can pose a threat, that can drive potentially a truck bomb into an embassy wall and can kill some people,” Mr. Obama said.
“What I also said was that al Qaeda and other extremists have metastasized into regional groups that can pose significant dangers,” Mr. Obama said. “They have the capacity to go after our embassies. They have the capacity, potentially, to go after our businesses.”
He also essentially admitted that the war on terror was unwinnable, despite his attempts to rename terrorist attacks “man-caused disasters.”
“This is an ongoing process,” the president said. “We are not going to completely eliminate terrorism. What we can do is to weaken it and to strengthen our partnerships in such a way that it does not pose the kind of horrible threat that we saw on 9/11.”
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