- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Capitol Hill Democrats said yesterday they will not be “swift-boated” by Republicans who accuse them of being soft on national security and coddling terrorists.

“Democrats stand ready to protect and defend the American people,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, said. “We will not be swift-boated on the issue of security, and that is what the Republicans are trying to do.”

Mrs. Pelosi was referring to the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which was highly critical of John Kerry’s presidential candidacy in 2004.

Part of national security, said the House’s top Democrat, is protecting the environment.

“We are advancing tough and smart national security policies to keep the American people safe,” said Mrs. Pelosi, adding that Democrats’ national security agenda aims “to fight terrorism and defeat it, stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, to stop global warming and any other threats to the safety and security of the American people.”

Kevin Madden, spokesman for House Majority Leader John A. Boehner, said the remark reflects a broader national security weakness by Democrats.

“The American people want a strong posture against the global scourge of terrorism and all Democrats can offer is Nancy Pelosi’s babble putting that fight on par with global warming,” he said.

Republicans continued their assault on Mrs. Pelosi and her fellow Democrats for opposing the efforts they say are crucial to winning the war against terrorism.

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, for instance, opposed legislation yesterday that would authorize President Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program aimed at collecting communications by foreign terrorists. Democrats, along with a handful of Senate Republicans, also have urged that suspected terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay be granted greater civil rights in their trials.

Such positions prompted Mr. Boehner earlier this week to wonder whether Democrats “are more interested in protecting the terrorists than protecting the American people.”

This brought Mr. Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, to the Senate floor yesterday to scold Mr. Boehner.

“His statement was very clear and equally despicable,” Mr. Kerry said.

Rep. David R. Obey, Wisconsin Democrat, also condemned Mr. Boehner’s remarks.

“I come from the state of Joe McCarthy,” he said of the infamous anti-Communist. “I know a first-rate McCarthy when I see one and I also know a third-rate McCarthy when I see one, and we saw one yesterday.”

Also yesterday, Rep. John P. Murtha introduced a bill formally calling for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to be fired “for the good of the country.” He said Mr. Rumsfeld has harmed military readiness and was wrong in his estimates about the cost and length of the Iraq war.

Mr. Murtha said he is sure Republicans won’t allow a floor vote on the measure. But he will introduce it anyway, “just for the effect it might have on the secretary leaving.”

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