Kerry: Bush, Cheney in denial about Iraq
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Democratic Sen. John Kerry said Thursday that President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have failed to recognize a deteriorating situation in post-war Iraq and "may well be the last two people on the planet who won't face the truth."
In his strongest statement yet, the Democratic presidential nominee suggested that if Bush fails to recognize the severity of problems in Iraq, then if Kerry takes office in January he will face a situation as chaotic as the Middle East in the early 1980s.
"If the president just does more of the same every day and it continues to deteriorate, I may be handed Lebanon, figuratively speaking," Kerry told reporters at a brief news conference.
In 1983, suicide attacks against the U.S. embassy in Lebanon killed 63 people, and the bombing of U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut six months later killed 241 American servicemen. Dozens of Westerners were taken hostage during that period.
President Reagan ordered U.S. troops to withdraw from Lebanon just a few months after the Marine bombing.
Kerry made the comments as he prepared for Friday night's debate against Bush, their second encounter in the final weeks of the presidential campaign.
Kerry spoke the day after Charles Duelfer, the U.S. weapons hunter in Iraq, reported that Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction programs had deteriorated by the time of the U.S.-led invasion last year. Kerry said the report "provided definitive evidence as to why George Bush should not be re-elected president of the United States."
Faced with that evidence, Bush conceded Thursday that Iraq did not have the stockpiles of banned weapons he had warned of before the invasion last year. But he maintained that Saddam retained the "means and the intent" to produce weapons of mass destruction and the United States was right to take action against him.
Kerry rejected the argument, saying that the evidence of weapons of mass destruction that the administration presented to Congress was why he and other lawmakers voted to give Bush the authority to go to war.
"My fellow Americans, you don't make up or find reasons to go to war after the fact," Kerry said. "Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States and the vice president of the United States may well be the last two people on the planet who won't face the truth about Iraq."
Kerry then looked into the camera and posed his challenge directly to Bush.
"Mr. President, the American people deserve more than spin about this war," Kerry said. "They deserve facts that represent reality, not carefully polished arguments and points that are simply calculated to align with a preconceived perception."
Kerry said he still believed that Saddam was a threat, but dozens of other countries have the capability to produce weapons of mass destruction or are home to al-Qaeda operatives.
Kerry said the evidence of weapons of mass destruction was overblown and designed to "purposefully used to shift the focus from al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, to Iraq and Saddam Hussein."
Kerry has argued that the Iraq was a diversion from the overriding U.S. effort to respond to the Sept. 11 attacks and hunt down its mastermind bin Laden.
http://www.usatoday.com/news/politicsel ... port_x.htm
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