Lacuna of the day: Al Qaeda and Iraq

Take a look at today's Washington Post story on Al Qaeda's alleged resurgence and see if you can figure out what's missing.

If you said "Iraq," you're right--and the omission is inexcusable. If Al Qaeda is the strongest it's been since just before 9/11 (as the National Counterrorism Center has apparently concluded) the next question is obvious:

Is the Iraq War responsible?

Shame on the Post. But shame on AP, too, which rolled over and let Tony Snow conflate Al Qaeda in Iraq with the other Al Qaeda in its story:
The Bush administration has repeatedly cited al-Qaida as a key justification for continuing the fight in Iraq.

"The No. 1 enemy in Iraq is al-Qaida," White House press secretary Tony Snow said Wednesday. "Al-Qaida continues to be the chief organizer of mayhem within Iraq, the chief organization for killing innocent Iraqis."

The findings could bolster the president's hand at a moment when support on Capitol Hill for the war is eroding and the administration is struggling to defend its decision for a military buildup in Iraq. [emph. added]
Well, that's one interpretation.

The Post and AP aren't alone in their sin: earlier this week, New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt hammered his paper for recycling the Bush Administration's misleading conflation of the two groups. Even so...come on.

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