From an interview with Mother Jones, when asked about whether to conduct military strikes against bin Laden, John McCain said:
You could say, Look, is this guy, Laden, really the bad guy that’s depicted? Most of us have never heard of him before…
Ok. Well. It was 1998. I’d venture to say that most of the public, and probably many Democrats and Republicans in government, didn’t see the threat posed by bin Laden/al Qaeda. So maybe we can give McCain a pass.
But the disturbing historical fact is that one month after 9/11, most people were aware of bin Laden, and saw the need to have military strikes against him. McCain, however, was advocating strikes against Iraq.