Kennedy Says Bush Hurt U.S. And Its Security
By Helen Dewar
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 11, 2004; Page A06
In a scathing attack on President Bush's handling of Iraq, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) yesterday accused the administration of "arrogant ideological incompetence" and said no president has "done more damage to our country and our security" than Bush.
Kennedy's speech to the Senate -- the latest in a series of attacks on Bush's Iraq policy -- came a day after the Senate Armed Services Committee heard testimony about the abuse of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison, which he described as "just one part of a much larger failure" by the administration.
"Because of the Bush administration's arrogant ideological incompetence and its bizarre 'mission accomplished' mentality, our troops and our intelligence officers and our diplomats had neither the resources nor the guidance needed to deal with the worsening conditions that steadily began to overwhelm them and continue to do so," Kennedy said.
"It is preposterous for the administration to pretend that the war in Iraq has made America safer," he added. "No president in America's history has done more damage to our country and our security than George W. Bush."
Kennedy said the administration sent too few troops to Iraq, with insufficient training or body armor, to carry out their occupation duties and underestimated the extent of the anti-occupation insurgency. "Simply put, the civilians at the Pentagon did not anticipate or prepare for the insurgent fighting that occurred, despite the pre-war warnings from military leaders," he said.
Kennedy, a member of the Armed Services Committee, said reports on the Abu Ghraib scandal demonstrated serious leadership failures that are not being pursued. Instead, he said, the administration "continued to pour out statements that were completely at odds with the facts," including claims that only a few members of the U.S. military were involved in the abuses.
He accused Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld of misleading Congress and the public "when he said that the leadership had acted swiftly to address the abuses, when in fact they allowed abuses to continue and allowed the situation to fester."