Blitzer failed to note contradiction in Bush assertion that he "[a]bsolutely" would send troops into Pakistan to get bin Laden


In his recent interview with President Bush, Wolf Blitzer did not challenge Bush on his statement that he "[a]bsolutely" would give the order to pursue Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. In a previous press conference, Bush had asserted that the United States could not send troops into Pakistan to hunt for bin Laden unless it was "invited" to do so, because Pakistan is a "sovereign nation."

During his interview with President Bush on the September 20 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer left unchallenged Bush's statement that he would "[a]bsolutely" order U.S. troops into Pakistan to capture Osama bin Laden, despite Bush's recent statement that the United States could not send troops into Pakistan to hunt for bin Laden unless it was "invited" to do so, because Pakistan is a "sovereign nation."

When Blitzer asked Bush if he would give the order to pursue bin Laden in Pakistan "even though the Pakistanis say that's their sovereign territory," Bush replied: "We would take the action necessary to bring him to justice." Blitzer, however, failed to point out that this answer contradicted a statement Bush made at a September 15 press conference. As Media Matters for America has noted, when asked why he thinks "it's a bad idea to send more resources to hunt down bin Laden wherever he is," Bush responded, "Because, first of all, Pakistan is a sovereign nation. ... In order for us to send thousands of troops into a sovereign nation, we've got to be invited by the government of Pakistan."

Blitzer also failed to ask Bush about previous instances in which he has reversed course on the necessity of capturing bin Laden or the steps he would take to do so, as Media Matters for America has documented.

From the September 20 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

BLITZER: The major guys are still at large.

BUSH: Well, no question Osama bin Laden is at large. But the man who ordered the attack and about 75 to 80 percent of Al Qaeda that was involved in planning and operating the attacks are --

BLITZER: The United States is the most powerful country in the world?

BUSH: Let me finish. Wolf.

BLITZER: Why won't we find these guys?

BUSH: Wolf. Wolf, give me a chance to finish. Osama bin Laden is in hiding and we're still spending a lot of time trying to find him. But the key thing that the American people have got to know is that security comes not only with getting him, which I'm convinced we will, but also doing other things to protect him. One is to dismantle Al Qaeda. Two is to listen to phone calls if Al Qaeda is calling the United States and respond to that. Three is to get information, so we can prevent attack. Getting Al Qaeda -- bin Laden is important, but doing -- putting things in place -- putting procedures in place that protect you is equally important; and we're doing both.

BLITZER: You think the Pakistanis could be doing more? Because there is a lot of suspicion that Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Mullah Mohammed Omar -- they're someplace in Pakistan, Waziristan, and the Pakistanis, for whatever reason are giving them truce, amnesty. They're not doing what they should be.

BUSH: Yeah, that's not the way I view it. I view that -- [Pakistani President Pervez] Musharraf, they -- Al Qaeda, that is, tried to kill Musharraf several times. And I view President Musharraf as somebody who would like to bring Al Qaeda to justice. Matter of fact, we'll be discussing that with him on that subject on Friday at the White House.

BLITZER: But there are others in Pakistan who may not have this commitment.

BUSH: Maybe. Maybe. There is no question there is kind of a hostile territory in the remote regions of Pakistan that makes it easier for somebody to hide. But we're on the hunt. We'll get him. But remember, protecting America is no [sic] question getting bin Laden or Zawahiri, as you mentioned. But it is also making sure that we understand what the enemy is thinking and getting ready to do to prevent attacks from happening in the first place.

BLITZER: If you had good, actionable intelligence in Pakistan -- where they were -- would you give the order to kill him or capture him and go into Pakistan?

BUSH: Absolutely.

BLITZER: Even though the Pakistanis say that's their sovereign territory?

BUSH: We would take the action necessary to bring him to justice.

BLITZER: Just a short time ago, Pakistani president, Pervez Musharraf, was asked about what President Bush just said to me, that he would go into Pakistan's sovereign territory to capture or kill Osama bin Laden or other Al Qaeda leaders. Listen to this.

MUSHARRAF: We wouldn't like to allow that at all. We will do it ourselves. We would like to do it ourselves.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, Terrorism
Wolf Blitzer
The Situation Room
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