During his questioning of Gen. Petraeus, John McCain seemed to go out of his way to elicit from Petraeus the opinion that Al Qaeda in Iraq was still a significant threat. "Significant" is indeed how Petraeus labeled the danger, although Petraeus also used the adjective to refer to the diminution of the Al Qaeda threat since he last testified. McCain wanted it on the record that AQ was a critical combatant in Mosul, Iraq's Northern gateway. Petraeus was happy to oblige.

You will hear McCain make this point on the campaign trail: Gen. Petraeus and Osama Bin Laden agree, he says, that AL Q is a "significant" threat.... which is how McCain links the war in Iraq to the global war against terrorism. It will be interesting to see whether McCain also acknowledges the relatively contained and local nature of the threat -- the phrase Petraeusused, if I recall, was that Al Q is "holding on" in Mosul.

No word, yet, as to Petraeus's estimate of Al Q's threat relative to the threat posed by the Iranian "Special Groups," or Shia sectarianism.

A side note: No, Al Q is NOT an obscure Shia side group...

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