In 1998, John McCain gave an interview to Mother Jones in September. His interview was published in the November/December 1998 issue. Here's the choice excerpt below from that damning interview:
Mother Jones: You not only have had combat experience in Vietnam, but you were also a prisoner of war. When you look at terrorism right now, with people like Osama bin Laden, do you have any reservations about watching strikes like that?
John McCain: You could say, Look, is this guy, Laden, really the bad guy that's depicted? Most of us have never heard of him before. And where there is a parallel with Vietnam is: What's plan B? What do we do next? We sent our troops into Vietnam to protect the bases. Lyndon Johnson said, Only to protect the bases. Next thing you know.... Well, we've declared to the terrorists that we're going to strike them wherever they live. That's fine. But what's next? That's where there might be some comparison.
This 1998 interview took place in mid-September, right after the August 7 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassy, which was attributed to Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. Here's more information about the bombings of the U.S. embassy, which killed over 200 people, including 12 U.S. citizens:
On August 7, 1998, at approximately 10:30 a.m. local time, two Embassies of the United States of America, located in the East African cities of Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, were attacked in coordinated truck bombings, later determined to have occurred approximately four minutes apart. In Nairobi, 213 people were killed in the blast, while 11 individuals died in the bombing at Dar es Salaam. The bombings were carried out by members and associates of Usama Bin Ladin's organization, known by the Arabic word "al-Qaeda", literally, "the base").
Interestingly enough, Senator Joe Biden knew that Osama bin Laden was definitely a bad "mother" in a Washington Post story in August 21, 1998.
Told of these criticisms, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.), ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, branded them "preposterous," and noted that Osama bin Laden, suspected of bankrolling the installations that were bombed, "is one bad mother."
And take a look at McCain's quote in that same story. He still didn't think the Clinton focus on Osama bin Laden was right, and kept on reiterating that view a month later in September in his interview with Mother Jones.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) stressed the importance of a strong U.S. role in foreign affairs, and criticized the administration for ignoring problems other than bin Laden, including Iraq dragging its feet on arms inspections, "North Korea building nuclear weapons," a stalled Mideast peace process, and "thousands of people being ethnically cleansed in Kosovo.
"This administration for the last seven months has neglected compelling national security threats besides this," said McCain, a member of the Armed Services Committee. "I cannot say that they've been neglected because of Monica Lewinsky, but I can say unequivocally that they have been neglected."
It's a very interesting progression of McCain's views on Osama bin Laden, from first thinking he wasn't really a bad guy, that Clinton was wrong to focus on him, and now to his oft-claimed statement about "following Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell" except for the border of Pakistan where McCain refuses to use military force to go after Osama bin Laden.
One thing you can say about John McCain---he's consistently shown the WRONG judgement time and time again on the issues of great national importance to us. Can we afford another four years of the same foreign policy mistakes and wrong-headedness? We can't.
TalkingPointsMemo just picked this up!