In an interview with The Daily Beast on Tuesday, Sen. Rand Paul discussed the war against ISIS, and in doing so, he repeated a thoroughly debunked rumor about John McCain palling around with the Islamic extremist group. Needless to say, a certain famously hot-tempered five-term senator and former presidential candidate was not at all amused.
“Here’s the problem,” Paul told The Daily Beast. “He [McCain] did meet with ISIS, and had his picture taken, and didn’t know it was happening at the time. That really shows you the quandary of determining who are the moderates and who aren’t. If you don’t speak Arabic, and you don’t understand that some people will lie to you-I really think that we don’t have a good handle on who are the moderates and who aren’t, and I think the objective evidence is that the ones doing most of the fighting and most of the battles among the rebels in Syria are the radical Islamists.”
Here’s the other problem: The rumor that McCain met with ISIS in northern Syria in May 2013 has been proven false. As reported by The New York Times, pictures of McCain meeting with members of the Free Syrian Army-who have historically opposed ISIS-have been seized upon by conspiracy theorists and McCain skeptics, some of whom have gone as far as to photoshop McCain pinning a medal on the chest of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Emboldening believers is the fact that McCain sometimes misspeaks, like on Monday evening on Fox News, when he asked “Has Rand Paul ever been to Syria? Has he ever met with ISIS?” The Daily Beast