On Monday afternoon, Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-New York) told MSNBC host David Shuster that the Bush administration "intentionally let bin Laden get away" in order to justify the Iraq war.
Hinchey is from a historically Republican district (though it includes Democrat-heavy in places like Woodstock and Ithaca) and his statement seemed to shock Shuster.
"Look what happened. Look what happened with regard to our invasion into Afghanistan. How we apparently intentionally let bin Laden get away. How we intentionally did not follow the Taliban and al Qaeda."
Hinchey alleged that bin Laden was let go because "the previous administration... knew very well that if they would capture al Qaeda there would be no justification for an invasion in Iraq."
Shuster, incredulous, pushed back: "You really believe that?"
"Oh, there's no question about that because the leader of the military operation in the United States called back our military, called them back from going after the head of al Qaeda because there was a sense that they didn't want to capture him."
Shuster began talking over Hinchey: "You can accuse them of malfeasance, you can accuse them of dropping the ball, of having an awful plan, and all of them would be justified, but to suggest that they would deliberately let, deliberately let Osama bin Laden get away so they could justify the war in Iraq... That will strike a lot of people as crazy."
Hinchey leaned back and smiled wrily. "I don't think it'll strike a lot of people as crazy. I think it'll strike a lot of people as very accurate."