Palin Links Iraq
to Sept. 11 Attack
By Anne E. Kornblut
Washington Post Staff Writer
12/09/08 --- "Washington
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska, Sept. 11 -- Gov. Sarah Palin linked the
war in Iraq with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, telling an
Iraq-bound brigade of soldiers that included her son that they
would "defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and
carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of
The idea that the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein helped
al-Qaeda plan the attacks on the World Trade Center and the
Pentagon, a view once promoted by Bush administration officials,
has since been rejected even by the president himself. But it is
widely agreed that militants allied with al-Qaeda have taken
root in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion.
"America can never go back to that false sense of security that
came before September 11, 2001," she said at the deployment
ceremony, which drew hundreds of military families who walked
from their homes on the sprawling post to the airstrip where the
service was held.
Palin's return to Alaska coincided with her first extensive
interview since she became the Republican vice presidential
nominee. In the interview, with ABC News correspondent Charles
Gibson, she was confronted with questions about the U.S.
relationship with Russia and her fitness for office, and she
appeared to struggle when asked to define the "Bush doctrine" on
foreign policy. Palin drew repeated follow-up questions from
Gibson about whether she believed in the right to "anticipatory
self-defense" and crossing other nations' borders to take action
"I believe that America has to exercise all options in order to
stop the terrorists who are hellbent on destroying America and
our allies," she said after several questions on the topic. "We
have got to have all options out there on the table."
That response put her in line with a view expressed by Sen.
Barack Obama, now the Democratic presidential nominee, in August
2007, when he stirred controversy by saying that if he were
elected president, he would be willing to attack inside Pakistan
with or without approval from the Pakistani government. "If we
have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets
and President Musharraf won't act, we will," Obama said. At the
time, McCain called Obama's comments "naive."
Palin continued to take a hard line on national security issues
when asked whether war with Russia could be necessary if Georgia
were to join NATO and Russia crossed its borders again. Palin
replied, "Perhaps so."
"I mean, that is the agreement when you are a NATO ally, is if
another country is attacked, you're going to be expected to be
called upon and help," she said.
In the interview, Palin said "I'm ready" when asked whether she
had sufficient experience to serve as vice president. She added
that she did not hesitate when McCain offered her the No. 2 spot
on the ticket.
"I answered yes because I have the confidence in that readiness
and knowing that you can't blink, you have to be wired in a way
of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we're on,
reform of this country and victory in the war, you can't blink,"
she told Gibson.
The event Thursday, held on a barren Army post on the seventh
anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, provided a powerful visual
backdrop for Palin's first solo appearance after weeks of
traveling alongside McCain and reading from a carefully prepared
McCain aides were adamant that the ceremony had not been
coordinated with the campaign, and officers at the installation
said the Alaska governor had agreed to attend months before she
was chosen for the GOP ticket. Palin's son Track, 19, will
deploy to Iraq with his unit later this month. McCain's son
Jimmy is with his Marine Corps unit in Iraq, but the senator
from Arizona has taken pains to keep him out of the campaign
As she has been since McCain plucked her from relative obscurity
two weeks ago, Palin continues to be surrounded by senior McCain
advisers even here; the senator's top strategist, Steve Schmidt,
and several others accompanied her to Alaska. The group is
guiding Palin through a crash course on policy issues and is
revising the campaign's original plan to send her on fundraising
missions separately from McCain.
Instead, seeking to seize on the outpouring of enthusiasm for
Palin, McCain advisers are "seriously considering" having McCain
and Palin campaign together on the road. It would be an unusual
arrangement -- running mates traditionally split up to cover as
much ground as possible -- but aides believe it would help brand
McCain and Palin as a single unit. It would also prevent Palin
from having to contend with her own dedicated press contingent
as she works to become more comfortable with an array of
national and international issues. The campaign is also
cognizant of the fact that McCain has consistently drawn bigger
crowds since adding Palin to the ticket.
"It is under serious consideration that they will spend more
time together than not, and more time together than is
traditional," said a senior McCain adviser, speaking on the
condition of anonymity. "They are a great duo together, from the
perspective of delivering a message." The adviser added:
"Sometimes these vice presidential selections, the pairings work
in a magical way; they click."
Other campaign formalities have also been taken care of in
recent days. Aides confirmed that Palin and her husband, Todd,
have been assigned Secret Service names: hers is Denali, after
the Alaska national park and wildlife preserve that includes
Mount McKinley; his is Driller, a nod to his work as an oilman
on the state's North Slope.
On the Army post outside Fairbanks early Thursday afternoon,
thousands of soldiers stood in formation as a low sun beamed on
the chilly tarmac. One officer who said he had come to know
Track Palin said that the ceremony would have taken place in the
same way had the governor not been tapped to run for higher
office, and that her son was determined to remain as anonymous
Pvt. 1st Class Palin is being sent to Iraq with the Stryker
Brigade Combat Team of the 25th Infantry Division. Palin, 19,
will be deployed to northern Iraq and will be primarily tasked
with protecting and helping transport the deputy commander of
his unit, Lt. Col. Michael W. Smith. His position is one of
"He wants to pave his own route in life. He wants to do his own
thing," Maj. Chris Hyde said. "He doesn't want to just be known
as Governor Palin's son."
Hyde said Col. Burt Thompson had arranged the deployment
ceremony to coincide with the Sept. 11 anniversary as a symbol
of the importance of the military. "That was intentional," Hyde
said, describing the effort as a "theatrical" one but adding
quickly that it had nothing to do with the Palins. "I talked to
Track Palin last week, and he's still just an all-American kid,"
The governor did not address her son by name in her remarks but
spoke broadly on behalf of the troops' families. "Don't mind us
-- your parents, your friends, your family -- if we allow for a
few tears or if we hold you just a little closer once more
before you're gone," she said. "We're going to miss you. We
can't help it, we're going to miss you."
She continued: "You may not need our protection anymore. In
fact, you're the ones who will now be protecting us, protecting
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