Just days after demagoguing the war on terror as a "war of fear," NBC's Richard Engel told Jay Leno "it's probably time to end the global war on terrorism."
The NBC News chief foreign correspondent, discussing Mideast policy on the June 22 "Tonight Show," also pushed for withdrawal from Afghanistan and an end to "this chapter in our history."
Video follows break
On Sunday's "Meet the Press," Engel denounced the war on terror as a "terrible misnomer" and dismissed efforts to combat terrorism as nothing more than "killing bearded men in Waziristan."
Ironically, Leno teased the interview with high praise for Engel's journalistic integrity: "I love this guy...Gives you all the facts."
A transcript of the relevant portions of the segment can be found below:
The Tonight Show
June 23, 2011
12:21 a.m. ET
JAY LENO: All righty. Very few people lead a life like my next guest. He's been living and working in the Middle East for the past 15 years, reporting from some the most dangerous locations in the world, interviewing some of the biggest newsmakers of the day. Please welcome chief foreign correspondent for NBC news Richard Engel. Richard? Well, Burbank's not Baghdad but it'll do.
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC chief foreign correspondent: It's a lot better. It's good to see you.
LENO: Let me ask, when your home. Now you're off for a couple of days, you're back here. Do you feel like you're missing things going on? Oh, I should be over there.
ENGEL: Absolutely. I mean, so much is going on. The Arab Spring. Afghanistan. Iraq. I was just in touch with someone in Iraq today. A car bomb exploded at the base of his street. So, just because we're not talking about it, doesn't mean these wars and these stories are stopping, so, yeah, I get nervous when I'm here that I'm missing something.
LENO: Now, tonight was the president's speech, obviously it was taped before we're on the air. But I imagine you got a feel for it. Did you guys get an advanced copy of the speech?
ENGEL: There were some briefings by the white house and there's been a bit of advanced reporting, so we know pretty much what – what he – I guess, when this airs, has said. And about having troops. The first 10,000 of the surge troops. The extra troops coming out quickly, followed by 20 more thousand. For the rest of the surge troops coming out next year. And he's effectively announcing the end of the surge because bin laden was killed and because there's been because al qaeda has been dealt serious blows in Afghanistan and other places.
LENO: I mean the original goal of this mission
LOUIS C.K., comedian: To kill bin Laden?
LENO: Yes, yes. Louie's not a current events comic.
ENGEL: Great. I did bring you something from backstage. I heard the lengths you'll go to to get painkillers and I was quite surprised by that so I brought you some advil.
LENO: Well, I mean, our goal initially was to hunt down bin laden and kill him. It took us ten years. We killed him. Over? Time to get out?
ENGEL: It's time to have a withdrawal from Afghanistan. I think that's what the speech was talking about tonight. And it's probably time to end the global war on terrorism. Think of it this way. Osama bin laden organized an attack that was carried out against the United States, New York, Pentagon, and the other aircraft, with 19 attackers, 19 guys with box cutters. An attack that's probably cost almost nothing. And in the end, Osama bin ladin was killed by 24 Americans in helicopters. So what did we do in between? And all of the ground wars, the Iraq war, which had nothing to do with al qaeda. Afghanistan, which is going on now. Still going on. And I think that's what I think needs to end. This chapter in our history.
--Alex Fitzsimmons is a News Analysis intern at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.