As the Shiite opposition to the U.S. occupation intensified in Iraq, Sen. Kennedy accused Bush of having the largest credibility gap of any president since Richard Nixon and said the Iraq situation was turning into '’George Bush's Vietnam.” We play excerpts from Kennedy’s speech on Monday.
Senator Ted Kennedy spoke at the Brookings Institution Monday. Here is an excerpt:
TED KENNEDY: Sadly, this administration has failed to live up to basic standards of open and candid debate. On issue after issue, they tell the American people one thing, and do another. They repeatedly invent facts to support their preconceived agenda.
Facts which administration officials knew, or should have known, were not true. This pattern has prevailed since President Bush’s earliest days in office. As a result, this President has now created the largest credibility gap since Richard Nixon. He Has broken the basic bond of trust with the American people. In recent months it, has become increasingly clear that the Bush administration misled the American people about the threat to the nation posed by the Iraqi regime.
A year after the war began, Americans are questioning why the administration went to war in Iraq when Iraq was not an imminent threat, when it had no weapons, no persuasive links to Al Qaeda, and no connection to the terrorist attacks on September 11 and no stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons.
Tragically, in making the decision to go to war, the Bush administration allowed its own stubborn ideology to trump the cold, hard evidence that Iraq posed no immediate threat. They misled Congress and the American people because the administration knew that it could not obtain the consent of Congress for the war, if all of the facts were known.
By going to war in Iraq on false pretenses and neglecting the real war on terrorism, President Bush gave Al Qaeda two years, two whole years, to regroup and recover in the border regions of Afghanistan. As the terrorist bombings and other reports now indicate, Al Qaeda has used that time to plant terrorist cells in countries throughout the world, and establish ties with terrorist groups in many different lands.
By going to war in Iraq, we have strained our ties with long-standing allies around the world. Allies whose help we clearly and urgently need on intelligence, on law enforcement, and militarily. We have made America more hated in the world, and made the war on terrorism harder to win. The result is a massive and very dangerous crisis in our foreign policy.
We have lost the respect of other nations in the world. Where do we go to get back our respect?
How do we re-establish the working relationships we need with other countries to win the war on terrorism and advance the ideals we share?
And how can we possibly expect President Bush to do that?
He’s the problem, not the solution. Iraq is George Bush’s Vietnam, and this country needs a new President.
Read full transcipt of Kennedy’s remarks here.