Fox & Friends crops video to attack Coakley for her remarks on terrorism in Afghanistan

››› ››› DIANNA PARKER

Fox & Friends repeatedly attacked Martha Coakley, Democratic Senate candidate for Massachusetts, for saying there are no "terrorists" in Afghanistan, and at one point falsely claimed she said the "Taliban" is "no longer a threat." But the context of Coakley's comments makes clear that when she said "terrorists," she was specifically referring to Al Qaeda, not the Taliban, and indeed, her comments are similar to military experts' statements that Al Qaeda's presence is diminished in Afghanistan.

Fox & Friends falsely claimed Coakley said the "Taliban" is "no longer a threat" and attacked her for saying there are no "terrorists" in Afghanistan

From the January 13 edition of Fox & Friends:

DOOCY: They had a debate on Monday night, and extraordinarily, she made what some are saying is a huge mistake, in saying this. Listen.

[video clip]

COAKLEY: I think we have done what we are going to be able to do in Afghanistan.

DAVID GERGEN (moderator): You think we should come home?

COAKLEY: I think we should plan an exit strategy. Yes.

GERGEN: And -- then how would we succeed?

COAKLEY: I'm not sure there is a way to succeed. If the goal was -- and the mission in Afghanistan was to go in because we believed that the Taliban was giving harbor to terrorists. We supported that. I supported that goal. They're gone. They're not there anymore.

[end video clip]

DOOCY: Really? Now, here's a problem. She said no terrorists in a nation that just had a terrorist attack about 10 days ago where those eight CIA guys were killed by terrorists.

KILMEADE: Yeah, from Al Qaeda just across the border and they went on tape right before that.

[...]

CARLSON: But here's one of the reasons why she may be in a little bit of difficulty right now. There was a debate held the other night between Coakley and Brown, and of course specifically they were talking about Afghanistan and the president's plan to send more troops. And Coakley then made an astonishing remark about whether or not she believes Afghanistan still harbors terrorists.

[...]

KILMEADE: It's going to be a little hard to explain to the families of those seven CIA agents who blown up in Afghanistan by a Al Qaeda terrorist--

DOOCY: By terrorists.

KILMEADE: --who's sitting next to a Pakistani Al Qaeda in their video address before his death.

On-screen graphic: "Free from terror? Coakley claims Taliban is no longer a threat." During one segment, the following on-screen graphic aired:

Fox & Friends chyron: Free from terror? Coakley claims Taliban is no longer a threat

Coakley was clearly referring to Al Qaeda, not the Taliban

Fox & Friends omitted portion of Coakley's remarks showing that she was referring to "Al Qaeda" when she said "terrorists." Fox & Friends' on-screen graphic echoes Jim Hoft's false claim that Coakley said during a January 11 debate at the University of Massachusetts that the "Taliban" are no longer in Afghanistan. During the debate, after the moderator asked Coakley how the United States can succeed in Afghanistan, she replied - as both Fox & Friends and Hoft indicated -- that she was "not sure there is a way to succeed. If the goal was -- and the mission in Afghanistan was to go in because we believed that the Taliban was giving harbor to terrorists. We supported that. I supported that goal. They're gone. They're not there anymore." In the next sentences, which both Fox & Friends and Hoft omitted, Coakley made clear she was referring to Al Qaeda when she used the word "terrorists": "They're in, apparently Yemen, they're in Pakistan. Let's focus our efforts on where Al Qaeda is and not always decide that we need to --" Hoft later removed the Taliban reference from his post, but highlighted the word "terrorists."

From the debate (remarks come around 6:25):

DAVID GERGEN (moderator): Miss Coakley, how do you think we then succeed in Afghanistan?

COAKLEY: In Afghanistan?

GERGEN: Yes, and Pakistan.

COAKLEY: I think we have done what we are going to be able to do in Afghanistan.

GERGEN: You think we should come home?

COAKLEY: I think we should plan an exit strategy. Yes.

GERGEN: And -- then how would we succeed?

COAKLEY: I'm not sure there is a way to succeed. If the goal was -- and the mission in Afghanistan was to go in because we believed that the Taliban was giving harbor to terrorists. We supported that. I supported that goal. They're gone. They're not there anymore. They're in, apparently Yemen, they're in Pakistan. Let's focus our efforts on where Al Qaeda is and not always decide that we need to --

GERGEN: Would you then send troops into Yemen where Al Qaeda is?

COAKLEY: No, I -- that's exactly the point. This is not about sending troops everywhere we think Al Qaeda may be, or where they're training. We have all kinds of resources at our disposal, including CIA, our allies who work with us. And the focus should be getting the appropriate information on individuals who are trained, who represent a threat to us, and use the force necessary to go after those individuals.

Military and security experts and officials agree that Al Qaeda presence in Afghanistan is "diminished"

Jim Jones: "The Al Qaeda presence is very diminished. ... No bases. No ability to launch attacks on either us or our allies." On October 4 CNN's John King asked Jones, "[D]oes the return of the Taliban in your view, sir, equal the return of a sanctuary for al Qaeda?" Jones responded: "Well, I think this is one of the central issues and, you know, it could. Obviously, the good news is that Americans should feel at least good about in Afghanistan is that the Al Qaeda presence is very diminished. The maximum estimate is less than 100 operating in the country. No bases. No ability to launch attacks on either us or our allies." [State of the Union, 10/4/09]

Wash. Post: Senior U.S. military intelligence official says Al Qaeda has "fewer than 100 members" in Afghanistan. Reporting on "the relative decline of Al-Qaeda" in Afghanistan, The Washington Post wrote: "Although the war in Afghanistan began as a response to al-Qaeda terrorism, there are perhaps fewer than 100 members of the group left in the country, according to a senior U.S. military intelligence official in Kabul who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The official estimated that there are 300 al-Qaeda members in the tribal areas of Pakistan, where the group is based, compared with tens of thousands of Taliban insurgents on either side of the border." [The Washington Post, 11/11/09]

NY Times: Senior White House official stated that Al Qaeda has fewer than 100 fighters in Afghanistan. The New York Times reported that a senior Obama administration official stated that "Al Qaeda has fewer than 100 fighters in Afghanistan." [The New York Times, 10/7/09]

Petraeus: "Al Qaida, if you will -- is not based, per se, in Afghanistan." In a May 2009 interview, King said to Petraeus, "No Al Qaida at all in Afghanistan. Is that an exaggeration, General Petraeus, or is that true?" Petraeus responded:

PETRAEUS: No, I would agree with that assessment. Certainly, Al Qaida and its affiliates. Again, remember that this is, as I mentioned earlier, a syndicate of extremist organizations, some of which are truly transnational extremists. In other words, don't just conduct attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan and India, but even throughout the rest of the world, as we saw in the U.K. a couple of years ago. They do come in and out of Afghanistan, but the Al Qaida -- precise Al Qaida, if you will -- is not based, per se, in Afghanistan, although its elements and certainly its affiliates -- Baitullah Mehsud's group, commander Nazir Khaqani (ph) network and others, certainly do have enclaves and sanctuaries in certain parts of eastern Afghanistan. And then the Afghan Taliban, of course, has a number of districts in which it has its fighters and its shadow government, if you will, even.

But I think, no, I think that's an accurate assessment, and that the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan -- that very, very mountainous, rugged terrain just east of the Afghan border and in the western part of Pakistan -- is the locus of the leadership of these organizations, although they do, again, go into Afghanistan, certainly, and conduct operations against our troops, and have tried, certainly, to threaten all the way to Kabul at various times. [State of the Union, 5/10/09]

AP: McChrystal stated, "I do not see indications of a large al-Qaida presence in Afghanistan now." The Associated Press reported, "The top commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan said Friday he sees no signs of a major al-Qaida presence in the country, but says the terror group still maintains close links to insurgents," and quoted Gen. Stanley McChrystal at the Dutch Defense Ministry commenting, "I do not see indications of a large al-Qaida presence in Afghanistan now." [Associated Press, 9/11/09]

Doocy, Kilmeade ignored context of Coakley's remarks to cite recent terrorist attack in Afghanistan as a "problem" for Coakley

Doocy: "Problem" that Coakley said "no terrorists in a nation that just had a terrorist attack about ten days ago." During one segment, after hearing Coakley's comments, Doocy said: "Really? Now, here's a problem. She said no terrorists in a nation that just had a terrorist attack about 10 days ago where those eight CIA guys were killed by terrorists." In a later segment, after airing part of Coakley's comments, Kilmeade said: "It's going to be a little hard to explain to the families of those seven CIA agents who blown up in Afghanistan by a Al Qaeda terrorist...who's sitting next to a Pakistani Al Qaeda in their video address before his death."

But the bomber reportedly collaborated with the Taliban in Pakistan, an area Coakley identified as an Al Qaeda hot-spot

Bomber of CIA outpost reportedly released a video with the Pakistani Taliban leader. Kilmeade stated that the Jordanian suicide bomber, Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi, was "sitting next to a Pakistani Al Qaeda in their video address before his death." But according to a January 9 New York Times article, al-Balawi, "was shown [in a video] sitting beside another man, whom a Pakistani news report identified as Hakimullah Mehsud, the aggressive young militant who took the reins of the Pakistani Taliban after Baitullah Mehsud's death and has spearheaded an intense string of terrorist attacks." It added, "That image, and Mr. Balawi's praise for Baitullah Mehsud, seemed to support the Pakistani Taliban's claims that they were the main player in the attack and had trained Mr. Balawi."

Coakley stated that "terrorists" are "in, apparently Yemen, they're in Pakistan." During the debate, Coakley stated: "If the goal was -- and the mission in Afghanistan was to go in because we believed that the Taliban was giving harbor to terrorists. We supported that. I supported that goal. They're gone. They're not there anymore. They're in, apparently Yemen, they're in Pakistan. Let's focus our efforts on where Al Qaeda is and not always decide that we need to." Coakley added, "This is not about sending troops everywhere we think Al Qaeda may be, or where they're training. We have all kinds of resources at our disposal, including CIA, our allies who work with us. And the focus should be getting the appropriate information on individuals who are trained, who represent a threat to us, and use the force necessary to go after those individuals." While Fox & Friends noted that the suicide bomber was tied to the Pakistan, they ignored that Coakley identified Pakistan as an area of concern for terrorism.

Posted In
Elections, National Security & Foreign Policy
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Steve Doocy, Brian Kilmeade, Gretchen Carlson
Show/Publication
FOX & Friends
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