Jeb Bush's Misleading ISIS Statements

Jeb Bush has tried valiantly to shake off his disastrous Iraq statements, including a lame attempt at deflection, sort of a "well, sure my brother screwed up, but it's so much worse under Obama because ISIS!" ISIS, he says, "didn't exist when my brother was president. Al Qaeda in Iraq was wiped out when my brother was president." Our own Jon Perr debunked that statement last week. Now Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post fact-checker, has followed suit, giving Bush four out of four Pinocchios, meaning there isn't even any room for debate how much he's lying about this.


The National Counterterrorism Center puts it this way: "Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) and more recently the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), was established in April 2004 by long-time Sunni extremist Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi." The NCTC notes that Zarqawi was killed by a U.S. airstrike in 2006 and afterwards his successor announced the formation of the Islamic State.

As analyst Brian Fishman noted in a 2006 report for the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, the announcement was made on Oct. 15, 2006—more than two years before Bush left office. (This paper, interestingly, was one of the reports that Osama bin Laden had on his bookshelf when he was killed by U.S. forces in 2011.)

"Unfortunately, almost everyone in Washington, including those of us that understood and emphasized the political shifts it had made, continued to use 'al-Qaeda in Iraq' as shorthand for the group because it was widely understood nomenclature among policymakers," said Fishman, who is now with the New America Foundation. "This was a mistake; I certainly regret conceding to convenience at the time."

Fishman added that although the term "ISIS" was not used until 2013, after the group captured territory in Syria, "the Islamic State of Iraq, declared in 2006, was intended to be a sprawling entity like the one we see today. That was its political purpose and ambition. Todays ISIS is the same organization, only stronger."

Oh, and that part about Al Qaeda being "wiped out" by his brother. Nope. Fishman points out that, "despite its setbacks, the ISI was one of the strongest terrorist groups in the world even at its weakest point after the Surge." At least that part of the the Iraq War history of his brother isn't going to be so easy to revise, not like the whole "mistakes were made," "faulty intelligence" canard.

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