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White House Divided on Goal of Defeating Taliban

7:44 PM, Oct 5, 2009 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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E.J. Dionne, who's as plugged-in to the Obama White House as any columnist, writes today:

some administration officials are asking why it is that al-Qaeda has weakened even as the Taliban has grown stronger? These skeptics now question whether routing the Taliban is actually essential to Obama's core goal of defeating al-Qaeda.

As of last week, defeating the Taliban was official White House policy. From the September 29 White House press briefing:

Q Robert, when you talk about Afghanistan, the one thing that I don't hear in the strategy is defeat of the Taliban. Is defeat of the Taliban something that we must do there?

MR. GIBBS: Obviously when I talk about al Qaeda and its extremist allies, that's what we're talking about.

Q Defeating the Taliban as well?

MR. GIBBS: Yes.