CNN reported “speculation” that Al Qaeda prefers Kerry; Center for American Progress urged: “E-mail Kelli Arena”

On CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports on May 27, CNN justice correspondent Kelli Arena reported, "[T]here is some speculation that Al Qaeda believes it has a better chance of winning in Iraq if John Kerry is in the White House." The Center for American Progress (CAP) reported Arena's statement on its Web page titled “The Progress Report” : “Yesterday, CNN Justice Department correspondent Kelli Arena spread the unsubstantiated myth that al Qaeda has a preference in the upcoming U.S. elections.” CAP noted, “Arena's comment came on the same day Kerry called for 40,000 more troops in Iraq." CAP posted Arena's e-mail address, urging readers to e-mail her “and tell her to stick to the facts.”

Arena failed to report the source of the “speculation” that Al Qaeda favors a Kerry victory in November. But it is consistent with claims made by national security adviser Condoleezza Rice following the March terrorist bombing in Spain that some believe led to the ouster of Spain's pro-Bush prime minister in elections three days after that attack. As reported by Suzanne Malveaux on the April 18 broadcast of CNN's Inside Edition, Rice suggested that not only do the terrorists prefer Kerry in November, but they will likely take action to bring about that result.

Malveaux paraphrased Rice, saying: "[I]t is a serious concern of this administration that terrorists may try to strike during the November elections here. That they may have looked at the situation in Spain, where you simply had -- essentially had a pro-American, pro-Iraq war leader ousted for someone who took the opposite position." Malveaux reported that Rice “even going [on] to say that it is almost an opportunity that perhaps is too good for the terrorists to pass up.”

As previously reported by Media Matters for America, Rush Limbaugh, on his March 15 radio show -- a month before CNN quoted Rice -- made the following statement:

So the only real question is, if Al Qaeda's active and capable, what are they going to do? Because we know what they want: they want Kerry, they want the Democrats in power. They'd love that -- I mean, based simply on what they're saying and how they're reacting to what happened in Spain. I'm not guessing.

As Media Matters for America noted on May 2, Reuters reported in March that an apparent Al Qaeda letter stated that the group supports President George W. Bush's reelection: “The statement said it supported President Bush in his reelection campaign, and would prefer him to win in November rather than the Democratic candidate John Kerry, as it was not possible to find a leader 'more foolish than you (Bush), who deals with matters by force rather than with wisdom.' ... [The letter added,] 'Kerry will kill our nation while it sleeps because he and the Democrats have the cunning to embellish blasphemy and present it to the Arab and Muslim nation as civilization. ... Because of this we desire you (Bush) to be elected.'”