- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 22, 2004

Powell strikes back

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell says congressional Democrats who complain that the American people were misled about the reasons for going to war in Iraq were being “disingenuous,” because they had voted to approve the use of force based on the same intelligence information that President Bush had.

Mr. Powell, whom many liberals depict as an innocent bystander in Mr. Bush’s foreign policy, said: “The Democrats had access to the same information that the president and I did. They all stood up and voted for it in a resolution last fall. So it’s a little disingenuous to suddenly start deciding that, well, we were misled.”

Mr. Powell’s remarks came Wednesday in an interview with conservative radio talk-show host Sean Hannity, Agence France-Presse reports.

Asked about Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean’s repeating a “theory” that Mr. Bush might have been warned about the September 11 attacks, Mr. Powell replied: “That is a total absurdity. It really is sad that any candidate would make such a statement. He has no basis for making such a statement. None of us knew about 9/11 before the attack.

“My God, to suggest that responsible people, the president of the United States, would have known about that before the fact and not done anything about it, it is just, it’s just, it’s awful,” Mr. Powell said. “It’s outrageous.”

Mr. Powell said he was “annoyed” by accusations from some Democrats that U.S. troops in Afghanistan might have and still might be intentionally targeting civilians in Afghanistan.

“One, I’m annoyed,” he said when asked for his reaction. “Second, they know better. Three, they must be desperate. I mean, the American people aren’t going to fall for these kinds of ridiculous, outrageous and irresponsible charges.”

Bring it on

“Massachusetts Senator John Kerry likes to say that, if he’s the Democratic nominee and President Bush wants to make the election a referendum on national security, he has just three words to say: ‘Bring it on!’ But what if Kerry becomes the nominee and Bush wants to make the election more than a referendum on national security? What would the Republicans bring on then?” Michael Grunwald writes in the New Republic.

“In all likelihood, they would hammer Kerry for his opposition to mandatory minimum sentences for dealers who sell drugs to children and for voting against the death penalty for terrorists. They would mock his efforts to provide cash benefits to drug addicts and alcoholics, and his one-time opposition to a modest work requirement for welfare recipients. They would trash him for supporting more than a half a trillion dollars in tax increases — including hikes in gas taxes and Social Security taxes on ordinary Americans — while accepting free housing and other goodies for himself from friendly influence-peddlers. They would even point out that, when Kerry served as lieutenant governor under one Michael S. Dukakis, Massachusetts famously furloughed more than 500 murderers and sex offenders under a program Kerry later defended as tough,” Mr. Grunwald said.

Fateful words

“Let’s have it all legal.”

That’s how President Bush described his immigration initiative, which critics call an amnesty program for illegal aliens from Mexico, during a visit to Phoenix on Wednesday.

“It’s a temporary-worker program that also says clearly, we’re a land of rule of law, that having people in the shadows of our economy is not really the American way,” Mr. Bush told a community college.

“So what I want to do is to say, ‘Let’s have it all legal.’ In this sense: You can come to our country for a period of time, so long as there’s a job available for you.”

The president, who is the first to admit he is not always the most articulate man, likely will be pilloried by conservatives for summing up the problem of illegal aliens with those five fateful words: “Let’s have it all legal.”

It’s Miller time

The hottest media celebrity in Washington has to be comedian Dennis Miller, whose new CNBC program premieres at 9 p.m. Monday.

The former “Weekend Update” anchor for NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” Mr. Miller has been an outspoken — by Hollywood’s standards — supporter of the Bush administration’s conduct of the war against terrorism, which probably adds to his appeal in at least some political circles, United Press International’s Peter Roff writes.

Mr. Miller’s new network threw a lavish shindig in his honor Wednesday night in the nation’s capital, but the No. 1 topic on everyone’s lips was not the program — and, this being Washington, how to get booked as a guest — but the sudden and unexpected implosion of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s presidential hopes thanks to his overly energetic Iowa concession speech.

Even Mr. Miller alluded to it, saying that he would be leaving for California at 9 p.m. on a flight that would take him over, “Ohio, Illinois, Kansas …” — in a better than passable impression of Mr. Dean.

The consensus of the partygoers was that Mr. Dean was finished, his army of supporters never having materialized inside the caucuses and surveys showing that voters, ultimately, were put off by his anger.

Sharpton’s pledge

The Rev. Al Sharpton says he will stay in the Democratic presidential race through the party’s convention.

Mr. Sharpton, the New York-based racial provocateur, is one of seven men still seeking the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination.

“I wish to make it clear that I will continue to campaign vigorously until the last day of the convention to give voice to all Americans who have been too long taken for granted by inside-the-Beltway policies and politicians,” Mr. Sharpton said yesterday in a letter to Democratic National Committee Chairman Terance B. McAuliffe. “Moreover, it is my intention to use all the delegates I will gather to ensure that the party’s platform is progressive, inclusive and reflective of minority communities.”

Mr. McAuliffe has asked for a party day of unity in March to help retire primary-related debt.

Patriotic examination

House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican, yesterday made it clear that the Republican House is not about to roll over for President Bush on the Patriot Act.

Mr. Bush has called on Congress to act with dispatch in making permanent the act that requires congressional reauthorization this year and is considered by critics to impinge dangerously on the personal freedoms and constitutional rights of individuals.

Mr. Sensenbrenner, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said “over my dead body” will the act be reauthorized without undergoing thorough re-examination in hearings held by the House.

Mr. Sensenbrenner, who is serving his 13th term in the House, made the remarks after National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre presented him with the Defender of the Constitution Award on the opening day of the three-day Conservative Political Action Conference.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]m.

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