Let's take a close look at this Al Qaeda debate between McCain and Obama. That is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo."

In the debate this week, Barack Obama was asked if, as president, he would send troops back into Iraq after withdrawing them if things spiraled out of control there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA: As commander in chief, I will always reserve the right to make sure that we are looking out for American interests. And if Al Qaeda is forming a base in Iraq, then we will have to act in a way that secures the American homeland and our interests abroad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Upon hearing that, Sen. McCain said this:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN MCCAIN: I am told that Sen. Obama made the statement that if Al Qaeda came back to Iraq after he withdraws — after the American troops are withdrawn, then he would send military troops back if Al Qaeda established a base in Iraq. I have some news: Al Qaeda is in Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Whereupon Sen. Obama replied:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I have some news for John McCain, and that is that there was no such thing as Al Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OK, here are some facts. According to former CIA Chief George Tenet, Al Qaeda commander Abu Musab al-Zarqawi somehow found his way to Iraq before the war.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O’REILLY: So does Zarqawi go from the battlefield in Afghanistan to Baghdad?

GEORGE TENET, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well, he shows up in Baghdad in May of 2002.

OREILLY: He shows up.

TENET: Where he comes from, I don’t know. He shows up. As I say in my book, this part of northeastern Iraq, where a Kurdish Islamist group basically creates a safe haven for Al Qaeda incase Afghanistan falls down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Also, on March 23, 2006, ABC News reported that documents captured by U.S. forces in Iraq showed contacts between Usama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein on subjects like attacking Saudi Arabia. Those documents have been confirmed by members of the 9/11 commission.

So Barack Obama should be careful about this. Evidence shows Al Qaeda was in contact with Saddam.

"Talking Points" does not believe the past is a key issue, however. Voters should focus on exactly what Senators Obama and McCain are willing to do to keep them safe in the future. That's the most important thing.

It is clear that John McCain will try to portray Obama as clueless on the terror problem. And Sen. Obama will try to paint McCain as the guardian of failed policies.

In the end, you will make the call, as it should be.

And that's "The Memo."

Pinheads & Patriots

Word is that Jessica Simpson will travel to the Mideast to entertain the troops. The 27-year-old actress-singer will join the rock group Disturbed and comedian Carlos Mencia for a concert in Kuwait. For this, they are all patriots.

On the pinhead front, Halle Berry is an excellent actress, no question. But she has partnered up with the radical left MoveOn organization to promote Barack Obama's candidacy.

Now, we respect Ms. Berry's citizenship here, but not her choice of partners. So I have no choice but to make her a pinhead. It hurts me deeply.

You can catch Bill O'Reilly's "Talking Points Memo" and "Pinheads and Patriots" weeknights at 8 and 11 p.m. ET on the FOX News Channel and any time on foxnews.com/oreilly. Send your comments to: oreilly@foxnews.com