Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Citing what he called “arrogance, willfulness and bungling” by President Bush in his foreign policy, Al Gore yesterday blamed flawed policies for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners and said six administration officials should resign because of the Iraq situation.

In a fiery speech at New York University — sponsored by the political action committee of the liberal group — the former vice president called for the resignations of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, CIA Director George J. Tenet, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and Douglas J. Feith and Stephen A. Cambone, both undersecretaries of defense.

Mr. Gore told a cheering crowd that the Bush foreign policy was “a disaster” and that this group of six was responsible, as were the president and vice president.

A spokesman for the Bush-Cheney campaign said Mr. Gore’s speech was “outside of the mainstream” and “fails to recognize the seriousness” of the war on terror. “Al Gore today, acting on behalf of the Kerry campaign, delivered an extremely angry, factually inaccurate political attack, filled with pessimism and defeatist rhetoric,” said spokesman Steve Schmidt.

Mr. Gore also said that the prisoner-abuse scandal is a direct result of the attitude and policies of an arrogant administration that rejects any check on its power.

“What happened at the prison, it is now clear, was not the result of random acts by ‘a few bad apples.’ It was the natural consequence of the Bush administration policy that has dismantled … wise constraints and has made war on America’s checks and balances,” he said.

Mr. Gore said the administration is guilty of ignoring the Geneva Conventions with regard to Iraq, rejecting military leaders’ assessment of troop numbers, denying soldiers adequate tools and failing to plan to prevent looting and lawlessness there.

He said Mr. Bush has “created more anger and righteous indignation” against Americans than any other U.S. leader, because of his “contempt for any person, institution or nation who disagrees with him.”

The problem began, Mr. Gore said, with the administration’s new foreign policy of pre-emption and domination.

A Republican National Committee memo pointed out that Mr. Gore in 1998 had urged national unity against Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi dictator who was ousted in the U.S.-led invasion last year. “[I]f you allow someone like Saddam Hussein to get nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, chemical weapons, biological weapons, how many people is he going to kill with such weapons?” Mr. Gore had asked.

Meanwhile, Mr. Gore heaped praise on Democratic presidential contender Sen. John Kerry, but said the Massachusetts Democrat shouldn’t have to provide his own detailed plan for the Iraq situation until after he wins the election because too many things could change in Iraq between now and then.

Mr. Kerry begins an 11-day focus on foreign policy and national security today.

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