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Still Bitter Over 2008 Loss to Obama, McCain Blames the President for Orlando Massacre and Rise of ISIS

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Arizona Senator John McCain blamed President Obama for the massacre at the LGBT nightclub in Orlando that left 49 people dead and 53 injured.  While speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill, McCain said, “Barack Obama is directly responsible for it because when he pulled everybody out of Iraq, al Qaeda went to Syria, became ISIS, and ISIS is what it is today thanks to Barack Obama’s failures.  By pulling everybody out of Iraq, thinking that conflicts end just because you leave.  So the responsibility for it lies with President Barack Obama and his failed policies.”

McCain later said he misspoke, “I did not mean to imply that the President was personally responsible [for the Orlando shooting].  I was referring to President Obama’s national security decisions, not the President himself.  As I have said, President Obama’s decision to completely withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011 led to the rise of ISIL.”

The sting of McCain’s Presidential election loss to Obama lives on in his relentless attempts to cast the President as a failure.  Each time McCain calls President Obama a failure, he seeks to remind the 69 million Americans who chose Obama over him in the 2008 Presidential election that, at least in his own mind, he would have been the more perfect President.

In his effort to rewrite history and blame Obama for the rise of ISIL, McCain absolves the George W. Bush administration of their role.  Both the decision to withdraw U.S. Troops from Iraq and the birth of ISIL occurred under the George W. Bush administration.

After months of negotiations in 2008, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, and Iraq Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, signed the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which provided a timeline for the gradual withdrawal of U.S. Troops from Iraq.  In 2008, John McCain released a statement in support of the troop withdrawal timeline set forth in the Status of Forces Agreement.  Article 24 of the Agreement established December 31, 2011 as the deadline for troop withdrawal:  All the United States Forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory no later than December 31, 2011.

Under the George W. Bush administration radical extremists were imprisoned together at Camp Bucca in Iraq from 2003-2009.  The most radical jihadists were housed together in the detention camp where they were able to form alliances and exchange information.  Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who would later emerge as the leader of ISIL, was detained at Camp Bucca along with others who became senior military leaders of ISIS.  Al-Baghdadi was described as a model prisoner and released from Camp Bucca in December 2004 under the George W. Bush administration.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, a former detainee described how ISIS was born at Camp Bucca, “Extremists had freedom to educate the young detainees.  I saw them giving courses using classroom boards on how to use explosives, weapons and how to become suicide bombers.  Americans didn’t try to stop them.”

The Bush administration agreed to release detainees before Obama even took office according to conditions in Article 22 of the The Status of Forces Agreement:

Upon entry into force of this Agreement, the United States Forces shall provide to the Government of Iraq available information on all detainees who are being held by them.  Competent Iraqi authorities shall issue arrest warrants for persons who are wanted by them.  The United States Forces shall act in full and effective coordination with the Government of Iraq to turn over custody of such wanted detainees to Iraqi authorities pursuant to a valid Iraqi arrest warrant and shall release all the remaining detainees in a safe and orderly manner, unless otherwise requested by the Government of Iraq and in accordance with Article 4 of this Agreement. 

Not only did McCain misspeak about Obama’s responsibility for the mass shooting in Orlando, he also misspoke about Obama’s role in the rise of ISIL.  Let’s give credit where credit is due: the George W. Bush administration is responsible for the birth of ISIL, which later became known as ISIS or Daesh.

Instead of expending so much energy tearing Obama down, McCain needs to focus that energy on his re-election campaign.  According to many sources, he is one of the most vulnerable Senators up for re-election in November.

McCain is in a tight primary race against fellow Republican Dr. Kelli Ward.  If McCain wins the August primary, he will face Democratic challenger Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick. Recent polls show McCain with only a 2-point lead over Kirkpatrick.  In response to McCain’s irresponsible comments about the Orlando shooting, Kirkpatrick released the following statement:

“Elected leaders have a moral duty to work together to root out terrorism and keep Americans safe. But today, we saw John McCain cross a dangerous line in comments that undermine our Commander in Chief on national security issues — at the very moment the president was in Orlando to comfort victims’ families. It’s difficult to imagine the old John McCain being this reckless with something so serious. John McCain has changed after 33 years in Washington.”

If you think it’s time for John McCain to retire, please donate to Ann Kirkpatrick’s campaign at the following link:  www.kirkpatrickforsenate.com

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