Sen. John Kerry, national security sage, writes the following in an Obama campaign memo today (h/t Fox News):

Under President Obama’s leadership, we have devastated al-Qaeda’s leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Not only has the United States taken out Osama bin Laden, but we have devastated a large majority of al-Qaeda’s core group of leaders. And today our nation is safer because these terrorists have been eliminated. But there is still more work to do. …

President Obama kept his promise to re-focus our efforts on the real reason we went to Afghanistan after 9/11 – to decimate al-Qaeda and prevent a return to the safe haven they had there. Now that we’re accomplishing those objectives, the President has a plan to end the war in 2014, and our troops are already coming home. After over a decade at war, the President has a plan to use the savings from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to do some nation-building here at home.

Not only is AQ not decimated in Afghanistan, it’s rebuilding strength as U.S. forces withdraw, Fox News reports:

A diminished but resilient Al Qaeda, whose 9/11 attacks drew America into its longest war, is attempting a comeback in Afghanistan’s mountainous east even as U.S. and allied forces wind down their combat mission and concede a small but steady toehold to the terrorist group. …

U.S. and Afghan officials say Al Qaeda also has been building ties with like-minded Islamic militant groups present in Afghanistan, including Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is blamed for the November 2008 rampage in Mumbai, India, that killed 166 people, and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which is present in the north.

Ahmadullah Mowahed, a member of the Afghan parliament from the eastern province of Nuristan, along the Pakistan border, said he fears the departure of American combat forces will open the way for the Taliban and Al Qaeda to overwhelm the provincial government.

The U.S. has made progress in Afghanistan, but withdrawing too early will give AQ-tied militants an opportunity to regroup. Then there’s the troubling fact that al-Qaeda is gathering strength elsewhere, in the Arabian Peninsula, Libya, Mali and Somalia.

But the Obama campaign is tied to the narrative that al-Qaeda is on its last legs, because acknowledging otherwise would deflate all of Obama’s marquee foreign policy achievements. Killing Osama bin Laden would be reduced from the climactic resolution of the war on terror to a mere act of justice. Prematurely ending the war in Afghanistan would be exposed as a political move rather than a victorious drawdown. And Obama’s policy in Libya — the only Arab Spring state where he gambled on an intervention — would be called into question. Such a fragile narrative will be a risk in tonight’s debate.

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