- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 30, 2005

The White House yesterday ridiculed protestations by congressional Democrats over President Bush’s repeated references to the September 11 terrorist attacks during his speech at Fort Bragg, N.C., on Tuesday.

Several Senate Democrats, most notably Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, the ranking member on the chamber’s intelligence committee, complained yesterday that Mr. Bush was trying to trick Americans into believing that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was connected to the September 11 terrorists.

“Who made any suggestion of a link to the attacks?” White House spokesman Scott McClellan said. “[Mr. Bush] said the terrorists have chosen to make Iraq a central front in the war on terrorism. … They have the same ideology of hatred and oppression that the terrorists who attacked us on September 11 held. These are the same kind of people.”

But Mr. Rockefeller raked Mr. Bush for making five direct references to September 11 — and several indirect ones — in the prime-time televised speech, characterized by the White House as an effort to inform the American people about the progress made in Iraq by U.S. forces.

“I feel compelled … to set the record straight about why we got into this war,” the senator said. “It had nothing to do with Osama bin Laden. It had nothing to do with al Qaeda. It had nothing to do with September 11.”

“Wonderful. Wonderful. A real leadership position,” he mocked, adding that Mr. Bush didn’t provide any important details about a strategy going forward.

“Good audience, typical speech, not much use to the American people; more important, not much use to the American soldier,” Mr. Rockefeller said.

Although Mr. Bush has noted ties between Saddam and al Qaeda, neither in the Tuesday speech nor at any other time has he specifically said the Iraqi dictator sponsored the September 11 attacks.

Instead, Mr. Bush said Tuesday that Iraq was a central front in the war on terrorism, in part because the insurgency is led by Jordanian-born militant Abu Musab Zarqawi, who has sworn allegiance to bin Laden.

“This war reached our shores on September 11, 2001,” Mr. Bush said. “The terrorists who attacked us — and the terrorists we face — murder in the name of a totalitarian ideology that hates freedom. Many terrorists who kill innocent men, women and children on the streets of Baghdad are followers of the same murderous ideology that took the lives of our citizens in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.”

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California accused Mr. Bush of exploiting “the sacred ground of 9/11, knowing that there is no connection between 9/11 and the war in Iraq.”

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada said, “The president’s numerous references to September 11 did not provide a way forward in Iraq.”

Mr. Rockefeller said Mr. Bush cited September 11 “somehow figuring that it clicks a button, that everybody grows more patriotic and more patient.”

Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, said: “We don’t need any American, I think, to be reminded of the passion we feel about 9/11 …. The way you honor the troops is not to bring up the memory of 9/11.”

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, defended Mr. Bush.

“I think that you have to put that in the context that Saddam Hussein was supporting these organizations in many ways,” he said, adding that the terrorists spreading violence in Iraq “are the same guys who would be in New York if we don’t win in Iraq.”

Stephen Dinan contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide