Monday, November 14, 2005

Kerry Takes Bush to Task on his Veteran's Day Speech

John Kerry took Bush to task on his Veteran's Day Speech, on the Senate Floor today. In a fiery rhetoric, Kerry blasted Bush today, on the lies he spewed in his speech, last Friday -- from the rush to war based based on faulty intelligence data, to the spin Bush put on Kerry's own statements, John Kerry pinned Bush on the carpet.

The following is the text of John Kerry's Floor Statement:

MR. PRESIDENT, Veterans Day is sacred - or it is supposed to be. Veterans Day is a day to honor veterans, not to play attack politics. The President, who is Commander in Chief, should know and respect this.

Veterans Day originally marked the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, when the guns of World War I, the war to end all wars, finally fell silent. Instead of honoring that moment, instead of laying a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, instead of laying out a clear plan for success in Iraq, the President laid into his critics with an 11th hour rhetorical assault that dishonored America's veterans and those serving today, even as he continued to distort the truth about his war of choice.

Perhaps most striking of all is that his almost desperate sounding Veterans Day attack on those who have told the truth about his distortion was itself accompanied by even more distortion.

Does the President think that the many generals, former top administration officials and Senators from his own party who have joined over two thirds of the country in questioning the President's handling of the war in Iraq are all unpatriotic too? This is America, a place where we thrive on healthy democratic debate. The President does not have a monopoly on patriotism, and this is not a country where only those who agree with him support the troops and care about defending our country. No matter what the President says, asking tough questions isn't pessimism, it's patriotism. And fighting for the right policy for our troops sends them exactly the right message to the troops: that we take the decision to put them in harm's way seriously, and that our democracy is alive and well.

The President even used the solemn occasion of Veterans Day to continue his campaign of misrepresenting the facts and throwing up smokescreens. His statement that Democrats saw and heard the same intelligence he did is just flat out untrue - unless of course the President and his Administration didn't do their job and study the additional intelligence given only to them and not the Congress. As the Washington Post put it on Saturday, "Bush and his aides had access to much more voluminous intelligence information than lawmakers, who were dependent on the administration to provide the material."

But that whole discussion is nothing more than an effort to distract attention from the issue that matters most and can be answered simply: did the Administration go beyond what even the flawed intelligence would support in making the case for war? Did they use obviously inaccurate intelligence despite being told clearly and repeatedly not to? Did they use the claims of known fabricators? The answer in each case is yes. And the only people who are trying to rewrite that history are the President and his Republican allies.

There is no greater breach of the public trust than knowingly misleading the country into war. In a democracy, we simply cannot tolerate the abuse of this trust by the government. To the extent this occurred in the lead up to the war in Iraq, those responsible must be held accountable. That is why Democrats have been pushing the Senate Intelligence Committee to complete a thorough and balanced investigation into the issue.



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