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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Pakistan Attack

McCain charged that Obama has said he would “attack Pakistan.” What he really said, on Aug. 1, 2007, was: “It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will.”

As we noted in February, when Sen. Hillary Clinton criticized Obama for his remarks, that’s pretty much what the U.S. had just done. On Feb. 1, several news organizations reported that official sources said that a CIA airstrike in Pakistan had killed Abu Laith al-Libi, once No. 4 on the “most wanted” list of a military anti-terrorism task force. The strike was by a remote-controlled Predator drone using missiles.

Obama reiterated his position in the debate tonight, saying that “if we have Osama bin Laden in our sights and the Pakistani government is unable or unwilling to take them out, then I think that we have to act and we will take them out.”