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McCain Debunks His Own Anbar Gaffe

As we reported earlier today, Senator McCain was caught reinventing the Anbar awakening time line during an interview with Katie Couric Tuesday -- an

As we reported earlier today, Senator McCain was caught reinventing the Anbar awakening time line during an interview with Katie Couric Tuesday -- an interview CBS inexplicably edited to cover up for McCain.

Well, today HuffPo's Seth Colter Walls has dug up even more proof that the awakening's most important progress occurred before the surge plan was publicly announced -- let alone implemented -- including remarks from John McCain and Joe Lieberman from an American Enterprise Institute speech in January 2007.

McCain:

"Too often the light at the tunnel has turned out to be a train, but I really believe -- I really believe that there's a strong possibility that you may see a very substantial change in Anbar province due to this new changes in our relationships with the sheiks in the region. ... But it's important, as I said in my opening remarks, that this troop surge be significant and sustained. Otherwise, don't do it."

Lieberman:

"I wrote last week of a conversation I had after John and I and our delegation met with our military leadership in Anbar province -- a tough, brilliant, committed group of soldiers making progress there, turning the Sunni sheiks in that province to our side against Al Qaeda."

The McCain campaign released a statement last night in which they claim that the surge helped consolidate earlier gains in Anbar, but that's not what McCain said in his original remarks:

"Because of the surge we were able to go out and protect that sheik and others. And it began the Anbar awakening. I mean, that's just a matter of history."

So either McCain is lying about the Anbar timeline, or he's simply confused about what happened and when. Either way, this has to be problematic for a candidate who is running on the sole platform of being better equipped to handle the war.

If I could venture a guess, I would say that McCain deliberately distorted the effects of the surge in order to argue that it alone is responsible for the the reduction in violence. As I said earlier, McCain's only hope for winning in November is to convince enough voters that the surge is the only reason we're "winning" in Iraq, and the he is primarily responsible for it. Once Barack Obama challenged that narrative by pointing out the Anbar awakening was already taking shape and fighting back against al Qaeda before the troop increase, McCain was left with no choice but to re-write history to comport with the version he's trying to tell.

UPDATE: Here's what McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said yesterday about Obama:

"If Barack Obama had had his way, the Sheiks who started the Awakening would have been murdered at the hands of al Qaeda."

Well as it turns out, the sheik cited by McCain and Bounds was tragically murdered last year.

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