Outsourcing Osama

Andrew Sullivan falls into the Mickey Kaus anti-Kerry Spin Zone, posting a quote from a CNN transcript of Kerry seemingly endorsing the outsourcing of caoturing Osama bin Laden to the warlords in Afghanistan (for which he chastized Bush in the debates).

Except, the quote in question has absolutely nothing to do with outsourcing Osama's capture to warlords, it has to do with a caller's question about using flamethrowers in the mountain caves. Full context from the transcript follows:

CALLER: Hello. Yes, I would like to ask the panel why they don't use napalm or flamethrowers on those tunnels and caves up there in Afghanistan?

KING: Senator Kerry?

CALLER: My golly, I think they could smoke him out.

KING: Senator Kerry?

KERRY: Well, I think it depends on where you are tactically. They may well be doing that at some point in time. But for the moment, what we are doing, I think, is having its impact and it is the best way to protect our troops and sort of minimalize the proximity, if you will. I think we have been doing this pretty effectively and we should continue to do it that way.

KING: Congressman Cunningham, what do you think of that question?

CUNNINGHAM: I think Senator Kerry is right on the mark. To use a flamethrower, you've got to get right into the area close in. And plus, it doesn't penetrate that deep in those tunnels. You've got to go in there after him. So I think you have to neutralize that threat. And then you can get him out in a lot of different, various ways including what the gentleman spoke about.

The question being posed to Kerry here is clearly about using flamethrowers, and Kerry's answer is largely about the risk to our own troops being in proximity to such non-precise weapons. The issue of ourtsourcing the capture of bin Laden never arises. It's sadly typical of Kaus to try to smear Kerry this way, but Andrew should have actually read the full transcript before blindly accepting Kaus' spin.

By the way, its worth reading a bit further, as Larry King asks Kerry about the war on Terror. The exchange:

KING: What about enhancing this war, Senator Kerry. What are your thoughts on going on further than Afghanistan, all terrorist places...

KERRY: Oh, I think we clearly have to keep the pressure on terrorism globally. This doesn't end with Afghanistan by any imagination. And I think the president has made that clear. I think we have made that clear. Terrorism is a global menace. It's a scourge. And it is absolutely vital that we continue, for instance, Saddam Hussein. I think we...

KING: We should go to Iraq? KERRY: Well, that -- what do you and how you choose to do it, we have a lot of options. Absent smoking gun evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the immediate events of September 11, the president doesn't have the authorization to proceed forward there.

But we clearly are he ought to proceed to put pressure on him with respect to the weapons of mass destruction. I think we should be supporting an opposition. There are other ways for us, clandestinely and otherwise, to put enormous pressure on him and I think we should do it.

There's no doubt in my mind that Kerry does understand the careful balance between military power and other sources - and would use the selectively as needed for maximum effect rather than a one-size fits all strategy like Bush.

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