If you ask the Obama White House to explain the rise of the ISIS, they will either point to outrageous blame-shifting claims made by liberal supporters such as MSNBC’s Melissa Harris Perry or they will ask rhetorically, what difference at this point it makes. One thing the administration will be reluctant to concede is that the president, in his mad rush to withdraw troops from a potentially stable Iraq, blundered, leaving a power vacuum that this new even more virulent terrorist organization occupied.
But this is a political issue Obama and his minions will have to contend with after Sunday, when former Obama Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta appears on CBS’s “60 Minutes.” In his headline interview, Panetta will offer up a two-pronged assessment that will reflect poorly on the president: (1) that U.S. forces were pulled out of Iraq prematurely and (2) that Obama defied the express wishes of his national security team, which urged him to back the Syrian rebels against the Assad regime.
A preview clip of the interview has been released along with a partial transcipt:
Pelley: Back when you watched the stars and stripes being lowered for the last time in Baghdad, were you confident in that moment that pulling out was the right thing to do?
Panetta: No, I wasn’t. I really thought that it was important for us to maintain a presence in Iraq.
Panetta: The real key was how can we develop a leadership group among the opposition that would be able to take control. And my view was to have leverage to do that, we would have to provide the weapons and the training in order for them to really be willing to work with us in that effort.
Pelley: But with virtually his entire national security team unanimous on this, that’s not the decision the president made.
Panetta: I think the president’s concern, and I understand it, was that he had a fear that if we started providing weapons, we wouldn’t know where those weapons would wind up… My view was, ‘You have to begin somewhere….’
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