September 13, 2008, Fairbanks, AK – The John McCain campaign rejected suggestions Friday that Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin was linking the Sept. 11 terror attacks to the current conflict in Iraq as part of her remarks at Fort Wainwright.
“You’ll be there to defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the deaths of thousands of Americans,” Palin told the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry and their families at Thursday’s deployment ceremony. “You’ll be there because America can never go back to that false sense of security that came before Sept. 11, 2001.”
The governor’s oldest son, Track, is part of the brigade, and she had been scheduled to speak at the ceremony weeks before accepting the No. 2 spot on the Republican ticket.
But within hours of the News-Miner posting video of the speech on YouTube, commenters began questioning if Palin was asserting the attacks on New York and Washington D.C. were a primary reason for invading Iraq. The Washington Post also highlighted the comments on a story posted on its Web site.
“The folksy Republican hockey mom VP candidate just linked the 9/11 tragedy to the Iraq war,” posted the YouTube user known as unapimper. “How can anyone so clueless and ignorant be a heartbeat away from the presidency?”
“I get the feeling some people believe they can vote for an alternative reality,” wrote YouTube user SpitFireOFatJ. “It’s as if they believe if McCain wins that means history will record that they were right all along and Saddam was behind 9/11.”
The Bush administration once promoted the view that Iraq may have had something to do with the Sept. 11 attacks, but has since backed off such claims due to lack of evidence. It is, however, widely believed that al-Qaeda has an active presence in Iraq post-invasion.
McCain-Palin spokesman Ben Porritt, however, said it was ridiculous to think Palin was insinuating a direct connection between Sept. 11 and the Iraq war.
“In her praise of the brave men and women heading overseas Gov. Palin was clearly stating that our troops are going to Iraq to defend Iraqis and continue the efforts on the ground.” he said. “Drawing conclusions that she was saying anything else is an overreach.”