Joseph Lieberman, the sitting Democratic senator from Connecticut who now aspires to be the sitting Independent senator from Connecticut, declared yesterday that the antiwar views of Democratic primary winner Ned Lamont would be "taken as a tremendous victory by the same people who wanted to blow up these planes in this plot hatched in England."
And what do we — and by "we" I mean Senator Lieberman and the rest of us — know about the people who wanted to blow up the planes?
- We know that they are mainly Britons, many with Muslim names that are common in Pakistan. At least two are believed to be recent converts to Islam.
- We also know that two British nationals and five Pakistanis were arrested in Pakistan a few days earlier, and have been described by Pakistani officials as "facilitators" of the wider plot.
- We know that the tip that initiated the investigation came from a member of the British Muslim community who, soon after the July 7, 2005 London Underground bombings, reported the group's suspicious behavior to British authorities.
- And we know that the outlines of the plot look very similar to the failed Bojinka Plot of 1995, which would have involved the downing of airliners over the Pacific using liquid explosives.
These salient facts have led many to speculate that the just-foiled attacks are at least inspired, if not directed, by Al Qaeda, perhaps even Al Qaeda senior leadership such as Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. Remember them? Hint: one is Saudi, the other is Egyptian.
So, to return to Ned Lamont, how is his opposition to a continuation of the ruinous Iraq War, and his support for a refocus on Al Qaeda, good news for the guys now sitting in Pakistani and British jails?
Does Senator Lieberman believe that the expenditure of vast resources on the war in Iraq (to recap: over 2,500 American dead, and over $300 billion spent) directly contributed to the breaking up of the British terror plot?
Does Senator Lieberman believe that the war in Iraq has made it harder for Al Qaeda to recruit followers to its murderous cause? If he does, he apparently disagrees with U.S. intelligence officials, who, according to the Washington Post, "now identify the war in Iraq as the single most effective recruiting tool for Islamic militants."
Does Senator Lieberman believe that the war in Iraq has enhanced our ability to prosecute the war in Afghanistan, home of the newly resurgent Taliban and possible home of bin Laden, Zawahiri, and other Al Qaeda leaders?
Does Senator Lieberman believe that the would-be attackers share the same goals as the people who are waging violence in Iraq today? If so, just to be clear, which people in Iraq? The Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr? The successors to the Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi? The secular ex-Baathists? And, remind me again, just WHO are we fighting in Iraq?
It is time for the opponents of the Iraq War to clarify for Senator Lieberman — and anyone else who wishes to conflate the war in Iraq with the war against Al Qaeda — that the anti-Iraq War movement is not opposing the essential war against the people who killed over 3,000 Americans on 9/11, and not against fighting those people who were planning to kill thousands more over the Atlantic in the next few days.
The war in Iraq was, is, and will be a distraction from the war against Al Qaeda. People who argue otherwise either misunderstand the enemy that we are fighting or are engaged in a cynical ploy to exploit the anxiety of millions of Americans.