Fox's Hannity again falsely suggested that Obama referred to "invading Pakistan"; Gingrich doesn't acknowledge he's advocated similar position

››› ››› MATTHEW BIEDLINGMAIER

In a discussion with Newt Gingrich on Fox News, Sean Hannity mischaracterized Sen. Barack Obama's comments about taking unilateral action against terrorism targets in Pakistan, if necessary, suggesting that Obama advocated "invading Pakistan." Rather, in an August 2007 speech, Obama said: "If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets [in Pakistan] and President [Pervez] Musharraf won't act, we will." Further, just two days earlier on Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Gingrich himself spoke in favor of taking action against terrorists in Pakistan.

On the July 16 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, co-host Sean Hannity mischaracterized Sen. Barack Obama's comments about taking unilateral action against terrorism targets in Pakistan, if necessary, suggesting that Obama advocated "invading Pakistan." As Media Matters for America has repeatedly documented in response to Hannity's previous misrepresentations of Obama's statement, Obama never said he would "invade[] Pakistan"; rather, in an August 2007 speech, Obama said: "If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets [in Pakistan] and President [Pervez] Musharraf won't act, we will." Further, neither Hannity nor Fox News commentator and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), who appeared on the program with Hannity, noted that just two days earlier on Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Gingrich himself spoke in favor of taking action against terrorists in Pakistan, saying, "[W]e should make it clear to the Pakistanis that we're not going to tolerate the northwest frontier being a sanctuary for our enemies" and that "we'd prefer that they do the job, but if they're unwilling to do the job, then we're going to make sure it gets done."

In a July 15 foreign policy speech, Obama echoed his earlier statements, saying: "We need a stronger and sustained partnership between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and NATO to secure the border, to take out terrorist camps, and to crack down on cross-border insurgents. We need more troops, more helicopters, more satellites, more Predator drones in the Afghan border region. And we must make it clear that if Pakistan cannot or will not act, we will take out high-level terrorist targets like [Osama] bin Laden if we have them in our sights."

During the July 16 program, Hannity asserted, "It seems that there's been a lot of Obama surrogates out there that have tried to use the word or imply that [Sen.] John McCain is too old to be president by saying he's 'confused.' Now we've had Barack Obama, obviously, the latest change in position has to do with Iraq." Later, Hannity said to Gingrich, referring to Obama: "Doesn't that kind of show us that if there's anybody confused in this race, it's the former community organizer who can't decide on dividing Jerusalem, invading Pakistan, or meeting with [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad without preconditions?" Gingrich responded: "Well, I think that -- he would actually be very well-served to not give very many off-the-cuff answers. I think that when he starts to give off-the-cuff answers, he very rapidly starts contradicting himself because he hasn't really thought some of these things through and he doesn't really understand the implication of some of these things."

From the July 16 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:

HANNITY: It seems that there's been a lot of Obama surrogates out there that have tried to use the word or imply that John McCain is too old to be president by saying he's confused. Now we've had Barack Obama, obviously, the latest change in position has to do with Iraq.

And, you know, once he made the position that he'd be open when he talked to the generals on the ground, he was immediately attacked by the left, and then he went back to his original position -- position. Doesn't that kind of show us that if there's anybody confused in this race, it's the former community organizer who can't decide on dividing Jerusalem, invading Pakistan, or meeting with Ahmadinejad without preconditions?

GINGRICH: Well, I think that -- he would actually be very well served to not give very many off-the cuff-answers. I think that when he starts to give off-the cuff answers, he very rapidly starts contradicting himself because he hasn't really thought some of these things through and he doesn't really understand --

HANNITY: Well, let me ask you that.

GINGRICH: -- the implication of some of these things.

From the July 14 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

BILL O'REILLY (host): All right, now, look, Afghanistan very troubling. We went there last fall, as you may remember. And I told everybody then that this Pakistan, as long as Pakistan was out of control, and it remains out of control, that this was going to be a growing problem. Over the weekend, nine American soldiers dead, 15 injured in a big firefight because these guys came over from Pakistan where they're allowed to live, where they're allowed to train. They're allowed to do anything. The Pakistani government not doing anything about it. Big firefight and then they run back in. And we can't chase them back in. So how do you see this thing going down? What would you do if you were president?

GINGRICH: Well, I think first of all, we should make it clear to the Pakistanis that we're not going to tolerate the northwest frontier being a sanctuary for our enemies.

O'REILLY: But we've already done that.

GINGRICH: We have.

O'REILLY: We've already made it clear.

GINGRICH: All be -- well, no, no. I mean, I think I would start by saying that they should expect from here on out that there will be hot pursuit, that we will have Predators over their area, that we will, in fact, be prepared to kill any Taliban that we find. And that if they want to block that, then they've got to do it themselves.

O'REILLY: OK, so you would say right off the bat, we're going in because in this kind of a situation, you'd have to kill a village. These people attack out of the village, outside -- they were hiding in a mosque. They were -- you know, the usual Taliban Al Qaeda, put the kids and the women in front so you can't fire back. That's what they did. So you would tell them right off the bat, OK, we have a problem. You know the problem. Your army and intelligence isn't going to take care of it. We will. You'd say that to them?

GINGRICH: That's right. I think -- I think you have -- look, you either have to decide that you're prepared to lose to Afghanistan, which would be an absolute disaster. Or you are prepared to do what it takes to defeat the Taliban. And I think it's been a major mistake for the last seven years for us to tolerate a sanctuary in northwest Pakistan. I think that we have to put pressure on the Pakistanis. And we have to indicate that we're prepared to put lots of pressure on them. That we'd prefer that they do the job, but if they're unwilling to do the job, that we're going to make sure it gets done. And that would include training Afghan units to go in covertly and to operate across all of the northwest frontier.

O'REILLY: Would you cut the money off? We're sending those people in Pakistan?

GINGRICH: I would I -- would tell the Pakistanis that we will not only cut the money off, we will take other measures and that we -- if -- if we're going to -- if the question for us is winning in Afghanistan or having the Pakistanis like us, we have no choice except to win in Pak -- in Afghanistan.

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