Tuesday :: Oct 28, 2003

With A Five-Man Race Shaping Up, Clark Has a Good Day

by Steve

With his boomlet apparently over and his voice recovered, Wes Clark went for the long ball today in an address to several groups, when he explicitly laid the blame for 9-11 at the feet of George W. Bush.

Democrat Wesley Clark on Tuesday blamed President Bush for the intelligence failures that contributed to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. "There is no way this administration can walk away from its responsibility for 9-11," Clark told a conference, titled "New American Strategies for Security and Peace." "You can't blame something like this on lower level intelligence officers, however badly they communicated memos with each other. ... The buck rests with the commander in chief, right on George W. Bush's desk."

Later Tuesday, Clark called on Bush to release the details of an intelligence briefing he received from CIA Director George Tenet in August 2001.

Clark argued that Bush has manipulated facts, stifled dissent, retaliated against detractors, shown disdain for allies and started a war without just cause. He said Bush put Americans at risk by pursuing war in Iraq instead of hunting for Osama bin Laden and other terrorists, pulling a "bait-and-switch" by going after Iraqi President Saddam Hussein instead of al Qaida terrorists.

He called Bush's labeling of Iraq, Iran and North Korea as an axis of evil in his January 2002 State of the Union address -- "the single worst formulation in the last half century of American foreign policy." But his criticism of Bush's handling of intelligence related to the terrorist attacks is some of the harshest since former Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Bob Graham, D-Fla., exited the Democratic presidential race.

In May 2002, the administration fended off questions after it was revealed that Bush was given a warning a month before the Sept. 11 attacks that bin Laden's terrorist network might hijack American airplanes. Administration officials said the information was among several possible terrorist attacks being plotted against the United States.

"Strong rhetoric in the aftermath is no substitute for wise leadership," Clark said to applause from the largely Democratic audience.

Clark made his strong pronouncement on the same day he outlined his own health care agenda that would cost almost $700 billion over ten years aimed at covering individuals under 22 and providing tax credits for families making less than $90,000 a year to pay for insurance. Clark would pay for his plan by repealing the Bush tax cuts for those making over $200,000 a year.

Recent polls have also shown that the Clark boomlet is over and the national race has returned to a five-man race.

Steve :: 8:40 PM :: Comments (6) :: Digg It!