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November 1, 2004
CQ Flashback: Kerry Said Terrorist Had "Legitimate Voice"

John Kerry continues his quest towards self-destruction today in an NPR interview this morning, as he described a radical Islamist currently attacking American troops in Iraq as a "legitimate voice" who shouldn't necessarily be arrested if encountered:

In an interview broadcast Wednesday morning, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry defended terrorist Shiite imam Moqtada al-Sadr as a "legitimate voice" in Iraq, despite that fact that he's led an uprising that has killed nearly 20 American GIs in the last two days.

Speaking of al-Sadr's newspaper, which was shut down by coalition forces last week after it urged violence against U.S. troops, Kerry complained to National Public Radio, "They shut a newspaper that belongs to a legitimate voice in Iraq."

Never mind that this "legitimate voice" used that newspaper to call for an armed revolt against the Coalition and the Iraqi provisional government. John Kerry isn't concerned with that. John Kerry sounds more concerned with Moqtada al-Sadr's ability to express himself than he is with the lives of American soldiers, even as al-Sadr and his gang of thugs are killing Marines at this very moment.

After making that mistake -- and he clearly recognized it, as he tried to back away from the word "legitimate" -- NPR asked if Kerry supported al-Sadr's arrest. Given the shooting going on in Kufa, NPR pitched Kerry a softball, which he then proceeded to whiff:

"Not if its an isolated act without the other kinds of steps necessary to change the dynamics on the ground in Iraq," Kerry told NPR, in quotes first reported by the New York Sun.

John Kerry continues to demonstrate his complete inability to take a position on almost any issue. He can't even bring himself to support arresting a terrorist who has sworn to kill Americans, engaged in a shooting battle with US Marines. Not only does Kerry want to return to a law-enforcement strategy to fight terror, he doesn't even want to arrest terrorists that he finds as a result of law-enforcement action. Unbelievable.

Two questions: Does America want to elect a man to the Presidency who displays this callous of a nature to our troops when they're under fire?

Does America want to elect a man to the Presidency who is so incompetent that he can't keep his foot out of his mouth when NPR practically gift-wrapped its interview questions?

UPDATE: I found this LA Times article to provide some background for the current debate. The whole al-Sadr situation has been a growing danger for months, and shutting down al-Sadr's newspaper wasn't just about what he was printing in it:

The occupation administration has had an ongoing battle with Sadr that extends far beyond the pages of his newspaper.

Sadr, who is in his early 30s, has routinely denounced the occupation in his Friday sermons and has sought to raise his own militia, the Mehdi Army. Initially a ragged collection of unemployed youths, it has become increasingly organized, and Sadr now has militias operating in several southern cities, including Nasiriya, as well as Baghdad's Sadr City, home to more than 1 million Shiites. U.S. officials have been closely tracking Sadr's efforts to expand the corps.

The coalition has also forced government officials and security forces in the city of Najaf to shut down an illegal court convened by Sadr and a private prison where he was believed to be torturing some of the people sentenced by his court.

Last week, U.S. civilian administrator L. Paul Bremer III met with Najaf's governor and police chief to urge them to investigate reports that Sadr had continued to operate the court underground.

Under these circumstances, shutting down al-Sadr's means of communicating to an expanding organization makes sense, especially since they had warned al-Sadr several times to knock it off. Allowing him to publish a newspaper that recruited people for his own personal militia is suicidal, not an endorsement of freedom of speech.

Unfortunately, this is one "nuance" that escaped Kerry, who found it easier to sympathize with al-Sadr and his right to expression. Even up to two days ago, this conversation would be rather unremarkable. But after al-Sadr started shooting at Marines, the time for nuanced approaches was over. The only message American politicians should send after the shooting starts is that anyone who attacks Americans will pay a deep price. Kerry had an opportunity here -- two of them, in fact -- to support troops under fire, and he blew it by defending the guy responsible for killing Americans. That's not just unacceptable, it's plain stupid.

UPDATE II: Power Line also has more background on al-Sadr. The notion that he represented a "legitimate voice" in a society that wants to work towards freedom of expression looks more and more ludicrous. Kerry's "recent days" qualifier either points out his cluelessness or his willingness to toss BS in order to hoodwink voters.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 1, 2004 8:42 AM

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» Legitimate Voice? from The Key Monk
And another reminder why John Kerry is not a legitimate choice to lead America for the next four years, in April, Kerry called mass-murdering thug pseudo-imam Moqtada al-Sadr a "legitimate voice" for Iraq. [Read More]

Tracked on November 1, 2004 9:42 AM

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Lots of eleventh-hour news, in case you haven't heard. [Read More]

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» From Captain's Quarters: from OKIE on the LAM — In LA
In an NPR interview this morning, Senator Kerry actually defended Shiite imam Moqtada al-Sadr, who has lead an uprising that has resulted in the killing of 20 American soldiers in the last couple of days, as a "legitimate voice" in Iraq and complaine... [Read More]

Tracked on November 1, 2004 11:27 AM

» Bin Laden's Tacit Endorsement of Kerry Bin Laden's Tacit Endorsement of Kerry from Opinion Times
I know, I know: I'm supposed to believe that the real reason we have a terror problem is because of Bush aggression against Iraq. I'm not supposed to belive that John Kerry's statements against the war ("wrong war, wrong place, wrong time") have done... [Read More]

Tracked on November 1, 2004 11:35 AM

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