Just as they did right after the killing of Osama bin Laden back in May, NBC's Brian Williams and Richard Engel interrupted Sunday morning's ceremonies marking the tenth annivesary of the 9/11 attacks to pontificate against the war in Iraq.
At about 9:30am on Sunday, during live coverage of the events at Ground Zero, Williams instructed the audience: "Iraq had nothing do with this." Correspondent Richard Engel quickly echoed: "Iraq had nothing to do with this," before complaining: "And that message is still lost today." (Video and transcript after the jump; h/t Gerardo)
Back in May, as NewsBusters' Kyle Drennen caught, Engel was brought on the May 2 NBC Nightly News to make the same point in a newscast devoted to the successful killing of bin Laden by Navy SEALs. "The truth was, there was never a connection between Iraq and Osama Bin Laden. There were no weapons of mass destruction, either," Engel lectured.
Here's a transcript and video clip of the exchange between Williams and Engel, followed by an excerpt from the May 2 NBC Nightly News:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: And we should probably point out as we look at today's speakers, as we think about today, politics and geopolitics are right there in the background. Yes, today is about memories and sadness, but here's President Bush. Millions of Americans will always believe that while we started bombing in Afghanistan 26 days after what happened here, the first war we launched, people will always believe, was elective, because Iraq had nothing do with this.
RICHARD ENGEL: Iraq had nothing to do with this. And that message is still lost today. The war in Afghanistan most people think was necessary. A response was appropriate because this militant group, al-Qaeda, was being harbored by the Taliban. And the Taliban was driven from power in about three months from the September 11th attacks by just 400 or so mostly CIA operatives. It was a largely covert war that cost a billion dollars. Lost one CIA agent in that, one CIA officer in that conflict. But then not long afterwards the United States shifted focus to Iraq. It was a much more costly endeavor, had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, and that had an impact on the military, had an impact on the original war in Afghanistan, and those two wars are still ongoing.
# From the May 2 NBC Nightly News:
RICHARD ENGEL: Afghanistan and Iraq were lumped together in what was called a 'global war on terrorism.' The truth was, there was never a connection between Iraq and Osama Bin Laden. There were no weapons of mass destruction, either.
But when civil war in Iraq broke out, American troops were stuck. Deployment after deployment, trying to stop the daily carnage. The cost was enormous. More than 4,400 American troops dead. Along with 150,000 Iraqis. And it was a distraction from the United States' original mission to find Bin Laden, stop Al Qaeda, and prevent another 9/11. With American troops tied down in Baghdad, Al Qaeda and the Taliban slipped back into Afghanistan, a fight the United States is still waging.