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Thompson Revisits bin Laden Comments

Fred Thompson learned first-hand Friday how carefully people parse his words now that he's officially running for president.

In a morning interview with reporters as his bus rolled through Iowa, Thompson reacted to the discovery of a new Osama bin Laden video by playing down the importance of catching and killing the terrorist leader.

Bin Laden, he said, "is more symbolism than anything else. I think it demonstrates to people once again that we're in a global war. [He] is not as important as there are probably al-Qaeda operatives inside the United States of America."

The comments were meant to signal Thompson's belief in the breadth of the threat against the United States, aides said. But it signaled something else to his critics, who pounced. Democrats accused him of being weak on terror and his rivals for the GOP nomination immediately issued statements.

"Osama bin Laden and his henchmen must be hunted down, and as president, I will," said Arizona Sen. John McCain. Former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani said of bin Laden that as president he would "take him out."

By the evening, Thompson had gotten the message. In a rally in Mason City, Thompson repeated his belief that the war on terror was bigger than one man, but then went further to make sure there was no mistaking his intentions.

"Apparently Osama bin Laden has crawled out of his cave long enough to send another video and he is getting a lot of attention," he said. "He ought to be caught and killed."

--Michael D. Shear

By Post Editor  |  September 8, 2007; 12:43 PM ET
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America, if you think any of the GOP are true conservatives, or that any of the Democrats are true liberals, you are officially duped.

Look at the last few administrative cycles:
they're all about Bush or the Clintons, with Chicken-Cheney in the background. A dynastic struggle in the US? Impossible!

DROP THE LEFT vs RIGHT myth - they perpetuate this so nothing gets forwarded but their agenda. Which is wholly inconsiderate of the American People.

(We could do very well without the Cheneys & Carvilles & Roves in the US).

Posted by: chauncykat | October 6, 2007 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Guys, get your facts straight. Iraq had WMDs. They used them on their own people and against Iran in their long war. Saddam never accounted for all the weapons he produced. We seized some after the Gulf War but more were out there. When we liberated Iraq we found thousands of chemical weapon shells hidden and buried. We just did not find any WMDs produced after 1991. Every intelligence agency in the world believed that he still was producing chemical warheads. When Clinton ordered bombing of Iraq in December 1998, he stated "Earlier today, I ordered America's armed forces to strike military and security targets in Iraq. They are joined by British forces. Their mission is to attack Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors."

"I have no doubt today, that left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will use these terrible weapons again." What happened to those WMD stockpiles we never have found is frightening but Fred Thompson is not a liar. When we took out Saddam, he was close to getting the UN sanctions removed at the urging of France, Russia, and Germany (and we know why) even though the embargo was being circumvented already left and right. Bill Clinton, no friend of mine, bombed Iraq without congressional or UN approval because he said its WMD program was a threat. No congressman said prior to the invasion that there were no WMDs in Iraq because there were WMDs there. And no one with any common sense would think Saddam would not have produced more anytime he could.

Posted by: Childrex | September 10, 2007 4:26 PM | Report abuse

...I find it interesting that some are already calling Fred Thompson a "liar" as it relates to his WMD statement. As I remember it...we were all, at the very least, under the impression that Iraq did indeed have WMD! There are many statements from a number of the popular Democrats that stated so publicly!
As far as "getting" Osama Bin Laden.. it would be nice, but Thompson was right. killing any leader is not going to change things. Hitler was never captured or killed! Sure, we were told by his aides that he was dead. The Russians took his body with them, leaving us out of the picture. They "told" the world that they "believe" it's him. Very few people, at any level of any government, put much faith in what Russia said, including Russians. They then completely destroyed what was left of the body and discarded the remains in an unknown location. Of course... it didn't matter, we and our many allies, defeated Hitler's regime. In the end, that's what mattered most! Bias, hateful comments from any political direction aren't going to help. Very few normal persons are going to follow those who use that approach.

Posted by: imaridjoan | September 10, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

How many gaffes does Mr Thompson get, before the bottom falls out? I'll be surprised if he's still in the race at Christmas, though I'm betting on Thanksgiving.

Posted by: bsimon | September 10, 2007 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Military VETERANS know Fred Thompson is the strongest candidate on the Terrorism issue. They are signing up with their name's online at:

Posted by: opditch | September 10, 2007 5:43 AM | Report abuse

The time to kill bin Laden was in the '90s when he was declaring war on America and committing acts of war against America and the clintons did nothing.

We put these two miscreants back in power at our own peril. And that of our kids'.

That said, Fred Thompson, while not evil like the clintons, is no less clueless, mediocre and self-serving.



'LYMPHOMA-TIMELINE AMBIGUITY: Is Fred Thompson burying a relapse?'

Posted by: MiaT | September 8, 2007 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Another clueless fool who wants to apply the old labels and old solutions to new problems. The result will be the continuing embarassment of the US, wasting our treasure and our lives.

Killing Osama will produce minor disruptions of operations while making him a martyr for the cause. Our best move would be to disrupt the network by locating the couriers, leaving him an isolated old man dying in a cave on the Afghanistan border.

Then we boost local security in Afghanistan and Iraq, so the main thrust against active Al Qaeda elements and allies comes from fellow Muslims.

And, we find someone who understands intelligence, management, and diplomacy because our human intelligence on the millenarial Islamists is crappy, and intelligence is how this problem (not war) is solved or not.

Posted by: j2hess | September 8, 2007 4:42 PM | Report abuse

/*** Thompson us with:
"[Saddam] certainly had weapons of mass destruction and had the capability of reviving his nuclear program."

Um, no, he didn't have any WMD, and he had no nuclear weapons program, Fred Liar.

Another slavish follower of terrorist Cheney's Hitler-like lies, a stupid person who keeps insisting Saddam had WMD when, of course, he had NONE.

What's Thompson added to the race, being simply a Bush clone, another religiously-deluded, fascist-like far right conservative? Gads, except for Ron Paul, you'd think Republicans have been asleep, not realizing Bush hasd screwed up this country worse than any president in the history of the Republic.

Posted by: 2229 | September 8, 2007 4:35 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, wasn't it even more of a gaffe what Thompson said after being asked if it was smart to invade Iraq without having first completely dismantled al-Qaeda?

He said this:

"It's not an either/or situation; sometimes you don't have a choice. Saddam Hussein was on the cusp as having defeated the United Nations and the free world and the United States. He had certainly had weapons of mass destruction and had the capability of reviving his nuclear program. In light of what Iran is doing today with their nuclear program, he certainly would have gotten back on the stick and gotten there again..."

What does this even mean? Isn't this statement even more bizarre and wrongheaded than saying bin Laden is a symbolic leader?

Where is the outrage on this comment? Why are the other Republicans not hammering at him for this lie?

Posted by: screeeeeaaaaam | September 8, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: mikeVA1 | September 8, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

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