Sen. Barack Obama's counterterrorism speech today has drawn a ferocious response from some of his Democratic rivals. One took the bait, blasting him for warning Pakistan that the U.S. would not necessarily respect its territorial sovereignty if it harbored terrorists and refused to crack down on militants. Others agreed, but welcomed Obama to the Big Boy club. Another tut-tutted Obama's alleged lack of experience.
"Frankly, I am not sure what Barack is calling for in his speech this morning," says Sen. Chris Dodd. "But it is dangerous and irresponsible to leave even the impression the United States would needlessly and publicly provoke a nuclear power."
Gov. Bill Richardson agrees with the thrust of Obama's point, but ... "
My international experience tells me that we should address this problem with tough diplomacy with General Musharraf first, leaving the military as a last resort. It is important to reach out to moderate Muslim states and allies to ensure we do not unnecessarily inflame the Muslim world."
Sen. Joe Biden drips with frustration and condescension:
The Biden for President Campaign today congratulated Sen. Barack Obama for arriving at a number of Sen. Biden’s long-held views on combating al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Much of what Senator Obama has proposed Senator Biden has already initiated or accomplished.
“We find it a little disingenuous that Sen. Obama is hailing this as a new bold initiative when he has neglected to join his colleagues in the Senate when the opportunities have been there to redirect our forces into Afghanistan” said Biden for President Campaign Manager Luis Navarro. “It’s good to see Sen. Obama has finally arrived at the right position, but this can hardly be considered bold leadership.”
Hillary Clinton, or, "Bush-Cheney Lite," as Obama now calls her on the campaign trail, seems to agree with Obama:
Clinton, in an interview with the American Urban Radio Network, stressed the importance of the Pakistanis "taking the actions that only they can take within their own country." But she did not rule out U.S. attacks inside Pakistan, citing the missile attacks her husband, then-President Bill Clinton, ordered against Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1998. "If we had actionable intelligence that Osama bin Laden or other high-value targets were in Pakistan I would ensure that they were targeted and killed or captured," she said.
John Edwards also agrees.
NBC's Lauren Appelbaum reports that Edwards, on the other hand, agreed with Obama, though admitted he didn't watch the speech or see a transcript.
"My belief is that we have a responsibility to find bin Laden and al Qaeda wherever they operate," Edwards said on camera. "I think we need to maximize pressure on Musharraf and the Pakistani government. If they can't do the job, then we have to do it."