- The Washington Times - Monday, September 25, 2006

EAST HAMPTON, Conn. (AP) — Sen. Joe Lieberman yesterday argued that anti-war rival Ned Lamont’s call for a troop-withdrawal timeline in Iraq is “doomed to fail” and could leave the U.S. more vulnerable to terrorism.

“The clear choice before Connecticut’s voters in this campaign is Ned Lamont’s plan for giving up on Iraq and my plan for getting the job done there,” Mr. Lieberman said in a speech at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post.

Mr. Lamont, who upset Mr. Lieberman last month in the Democratic primary, has contended the war was a major mistake that has diverted resources from the war on terror. He favors beginning to withdraw frontline troops from Iraq while maintaining U.S. forces in the region for support.

“The Lamont plan for immediate withdrawal and an arbitrary deadline is doomed to fail and weaken our security,” Mr. Lieberman said. “It will leave our troops more vulnerable to attack while they remain, and will leave Iraq to become a failed state and a terrorist breeding ground when we’re gone.”

Mr. Lieberman’s speech comes in the wake of reports about a U.S. intelligence estimate that concludes the Iraq war has hurt the war on terror and made the U.S. less safe. Mr. Lamont and other Democrats have seized on the National Intelligence Estimate as proof the Bush administration and supporters such as Mr. Lieberman have blundered on the war.

“The president has failed in the execution of this war, and Senator Lieberman has failed to hold him accountable,” Mr. Lamont said yesterday. “Now we have a confirmation that the war in Iraq is weakening the United States and making us more vulnerable to terrorism.”

A three-term senator, Mr. Lieberman is running as an independent in a bid to hold on to his Senate seat.

In his speech, Mr. Lieberman proposed replacing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, doubling or tripling the number of U.S. soldiers embedded in Iraqi units and increasing the size of the Army and Marines to better prepare for global conflicts.

He also suggests convening an international crisis council on Iraq that involves European and Arab countries, and pushing the Iraqi political leadership to crack down on dissident militia groups.

Debate over the war has dominated Mr. Lieberman’s fight against Democrat Mr. Lamont, whose anti-war views helped propel him to victory in the Aug. 8 primary. Mr. Lamont has backed two Democratic Senate resolutions calling for a timeline: Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry’s resolution, which called for a July 2007 deadline for removing all combat troops, and another resolution calling for troop pullouts to begin by the end of this year. Mr. Lieberman opposed both measures.

The senator also urged both sides to find common ground on the war.

“We have to realize that reasonable people can disagree on this difficult question, and that does not make you a terrorist sympathizer, on the one hand, or a warmonger, on the other,” the senator said.

Mr. Lieberman has been a staunch defender of the war, but he has criticized Bush officials for lacking an effective plan to win the peace, for not putting enough troops on the ground and for failing to win allied support before the war.

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