Campaign tries to explain Palin's Putin comment | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED


Campaign tries to explain Palin's Putin comment

Gov. Sarah Palin cites vigilance against Russian warplanes coming into U.S. airspace over Alaska as one of her foreign policy credentials. But the U.S. military command in charge says that hasn't happened in her 21 months in office.

"When you consider even national security issues with Russia, as (Prime Minister Vladimir) Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America, where - where do they go? It's Alaska," the Republican vice presidential nominee said in an interview last week with CBS News' Katie Couric.

The spokeswoman for the McCain-Palin campaign, Maria Comella, clarified in an e-mail to The Associated Press that when "Russian incursions near Alaskan airspace and inside the air defense identification zone have occurred ... U.S. Air Force fighters have been scrambled repeatedly."

The air defense identification zone, almost completely over water, extends 12-mile past the perimeter of the United States. Most nations have similar areas.

However, no Russian military planes have been flying even into that zone, said Maj. Allen Herritage, a spokesman for the Alaska region of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, at Elmendorf Air Force Base.

"To be very clear, there has not been any incursion in U.S. airspace in recent years," Herritage said.

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