An April 3 NewsBusters post by Kyle Drennen insisted that John McCain's claim that "Al Qaeda in Iraq" would be "taking" Iraq if the U.S. withdrew from the country was, contrary to what a CBS report claimed, not an exaggeration. Another NewsBusters post by Brian Fitzpatrick called the CBS assertion about the McCain's statement a "smear" and a "whopper" and that Katie Couric "told a lie" in "lump[ing] John McCain in with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as liars." Fitzpatrick added: "Apparently Katie Couric cannot distinguish between a prediction about a policy issue and a lie deliberately crafted to gain advantage in a campaign."
But neither Drennen nor Fitzpatrick explain the thing that made McCain's statement an exaggeration, if not a lie: McCain's conflation of Al Qaeda in Iraq with Al Qaeda.
Specifically, the two groups are not one in the same. As the Council on Foreign Relations points out (h/t Media Matters), "Established by the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, an Arab of Jordanian descent, AQI rose to prominence after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. ... a number of experts say it wasn’t until 2004, when Zarqawi vowed obedience to the al-Qaeda leader, that the groups became linked."
Both Drennan and Fitzpatrick are silent on the difference between Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda in Iraq, which means they really don't have a basis upon which to defend the purported truth of McCain's statement.