- Associated Press - Thursday, July 29, 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. says U.S. forces are inflicting “significant damage” on the al Qaeda terrorist network in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Rejecting suggestions that al Qaeda is becoming entrenched in Pakistan, Mr. Biden said in a taped interview broadcast Thursday that the United States is moving forward in the war on terror.

“I assure you, we are doing significant damage to al Qaeda in Pakistan as well as in Afghanistan, so we’re making progress,” Mr. Biden said. “But the truth of the matter is that there’s more to go.”

The online leak of U.S. military documents by Wikileaks has revived questions about Pakistan’s willingness to sever its historical ties to the Taliban, which is allied with al Qaeda, and deny them sanctuary along the border with Afghanistan. Mr. Biden said the documents date to before the start of the Obama administration and that the problems they describe within Pakistan’s intelligence service are being dealt with and things are changing.

Liberals in the House have complained that the United States is engaged in nation building in the region nine years after U.S. forces struck against Afghanistan in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Speaking on NBC’s “Today” show, the vice president dismissed that notion.

“We’re in Afghanistan for one express purpose: al Qaeda, the threat to the United States,” he said. “Al Qaeda exists in those mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan. We are not there to nation-build. We’re not out there deciding we’re going to turn this into a Jeffersonian democracy and build that country.”

Mr. Biden also welcomed a judge’s ruling blocking the most controversial parts of Arizona’s new immigration law.

“We don’t think you can have 50 different immigration laws out there,” he said, suggesting the Arizona law would damage federal immigration enforcement.

On Wednesday, a federal judge in Phoenix ruled against sections of the Arizona law requiring officers to check a person’s immigration status while in the process of enforcing other laws.

The judge also put on hold parts of the law that required immigrants to carry their papers at all times and made it illegal for undocumented workers to solicit employment in public places. In addition, the judge blocked officers from making warrantless arrests of suspected illegal immigrants.

Mr. Biden was interviewed on Wednesday in Fort Drum, N.Y., home to the Army’s 10th Mountain Division.


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