This article quoted Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin as telling a brigade of Iraq-bound soldiers that they would "defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans." The report linked Palin's comments with the idea that Saddam Hussein was connected to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Tracey Schmitt, a spokeswoman for the McCain-Palin campaign, said Palin was referring to al-Qaeda in Iraq, a terror group that formed after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and claims to be allied with the global al-Qaeda organization.
Palin Links Iraq to Sept. 11 In Talk to Troops in Alaska
Friday, September 12, 2008; Page A01
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska, Sept. 11 -- Gov. Sarah Palin linked the war in Iraq with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, telling an Iraq-bound brigade of soldiers that included her son that they would "defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans."
The idea that the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein helped al-Qaeda plan the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a view once promoted by Bush administration officials, has since been rejected even by the president himself. But it is widely agreed that militants allied with al-Qaeda have taken root in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion.
"America can never go back to that false sense of security that came before September 11, 2001," she said at the deployment ceremony, which drew hundreds of military families who walked from their homes on the sprawling post to the airstrip where the service was held.
Palin's return to Alaska coincided with her first extensive interview since she became the Republican vice presidential nominee. In the interview, with ABC News correspondent Charles Gibson, she was confronted with questions about the U.S. relationship with Russia and her fitness for office, and she appeared to struggle when asked to define the "Bush doctrine" on foreign policy. Palin drew repeated follow-up questions from Gibson about whether she believed in the right to "anticipatory self-defense" and crossing other nations' borders to take action against threats.
"I believe that America has to exercise all options in order to stop the terrorists who are hellbent on destroying America and our allies," she said after several questions on the topic. "We have got to have all options out there on the table."
That response put her in line with a view expressed by Sen. Barack Obama, now the Democratic presidential nominee, in August 2007, when he stirred controversy by saying that if he were elected president, he would be willing to attack inside Pakistan with or without approval from the Pakistani government. "If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will," Obama said. At the time, McCain called Obama's comments "naive."
Palin continued to take a hard line on national security issues when asked whether war with Russia could be necessary if Georgia were to join NATO and Russia crossed its borders again. Palin replied, "Perhaps so."
"I mean, that is the agreement when you are a NATO ally, is if another country is attacked, you're going to be expected to be called upon and help," she said.
In the interview, Palin said "I'm ready" when asked whether she had sufficient experience to serve as vice president. She added that she did not hesitate when McCain offered her the No. 2 spot on the ticket.
"I answered yes because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can't blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we're on, reform of this country and victory in the war, you can't blink," she told Gibson.
The event Thursday, held on a barren Army post on the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, provided a powerful visual backdrop for Palin's first solo appearance after weeks of traveling alongside McCain and reading from a carefully prepared script.
McCain aides were adamant that the ceremony had not been coordinated with the campaign, and officers at the installation said the Alaska governor had agreed to attend months before she was chosen for the GOP ticket. Palin's son Track, 19, will deploy to Iraq with his unit later this month. McCain's son Jimmy is with his Marine Corps unit in Iraq, but the senator from Arizona has taken pains to keep him out of the campaign spotlight.