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Saturday, September 25, 2004

George W. Bush diverted the war on terror

John Kerry, speaking in Philadelphia on Friday:

"President Bush was right to invade Afghanistan and overthrow the Taliban. I supported that decision, so did our country and our allies, so did the world. All those people that Joe just referred to who joined with us on September 12th with those headlines that said, All of us are Americans now. 

But since then, again and again, the president has made the wrong choices in the war on terror around the world and here at home.

Instead of using U.S. forces, the best trained military in the world, the most capable, the most willing to go out and capture Osama bin Laden, the president outsourced the job to Afghan warlords who let Osama bin Laden slip away. That was the wrong choice.

Instead of listening to career uniformed military officers, instead of listening to his own State Department, to Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress, and outside experts about how to win the peace in Iraq, he hitched his wagon to the ideologues who told him that our troops would be welcomed as liberators. That was the wrong choice.

Instead of responding to the greatest intelligence failure in our history with a rapid overhaul of our intelligence system, starting on day one, the president dragged his feet and actually resisted reform, stood on the side of the status quo, blocked new ideas, resisted creativity. 

After opposing the 9/11 Commission, after trying to block its extension, as you've heard from two wives who are principally responsible for helping to keep pushing to make it happen, after finally agreeing to testify, but only with Vice President Cheney at his side... he still fully refuses to implement all of the commission's recommendations... 

Instead of expanding programs to keep weapons of mass destruction in Russia out of terrorist hands, the president tried to cut the programs, and even after 9/11, did little to strengthen them. That was the wrong choice. 

Instead of facing the urgent nuclear dangers in North Korea and Iran, he allowed these dangers to mount on his presidential watch. That was the wrong choice...

Instead of speaking forcefully to the Saudis and others about terrorist financing, instead of being able to hold people accountable for the money that flows to the terrorists, the president has said little and done less. That is the wrong choice...

On September 11th, there were no Democrats, no Republicans; we were only Americans. We stood together, we stood together in the ways that Joe described, in blood lines and helping lines, searching for people, helping to comfort our fellow Americans. 

We all supported the president. We all prayed for victory, because we love our country and we despise everything our enemies stand for. 

But three years after 9/11, we see our enemies striking in Spain, in Turkey, in Indonesia, in Kenya, and now every day in the most despicable, gruesome ways in Iraq, which was not a terrorist haven before the invasion... 

The invasion of Iraq was a profound diversion from the battle against our greatest enemy, Al Qaida, which killed more than 3,000 people on 9/11 and which still plots our destruction today. 

And there's just no question about it, the president's misjudgment, miscalculation and mismanagement of the war in Iraq all make the war on terror harder to win. 

Iraq is now what it was not before the war: a haven for terrorists. 

George Bush made Saddam Hussein the priority; I would have made Osama bin Laden the priority...

As president, I pledge to you, America, I will finish the job in Iraq and I will refocus our energies on the real war on terror. I will wage this war relentlessly, with a single-minded determination to capture or kill the terrorists, crush their movements and free the world from fear."


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