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AFP: Bush Using UK Bomb Plot For Political Gain

Just when you thought the media couldn’t go any lower, we get this bon bon from AFP:

Bush, foes seek political gains from foiled plot

by Olivier Knox

US President George W. Bush and his Democratic foes battled over an alleged London airline bomb plot, each side seeking a political edge ahead of critical November legislative elections.

Bush, on a day trip to Wisconsin, said the foiled conspiracy was "a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists" and hammered unnamed critics he accused of all but forgetting the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Weighed down by the unpopular war in Iraq, Bush has tried to shift the national debate from that conflict to the broader and more popular global war on terrorism as his Republicans fight to keep control of the Congress.

"It is a mistake to believe there is no threat to the United States of America," he said. "We’ve taken a lot of measures to protect the American people. But obviously we still aren’t completely safe."

Firing back, leading Democrats praised the dismantling of the plot but said it showed how the war in Iraq has siphoned resources from the war on Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network, which carried out the strikes in 2001.

"The war in Iraq has become a dangerous distraction and a profound drain on our financial and military resources," said Senator John Kerry, Bush’s rival for the White House in 2004. "Osama bin Laden is still on the loose."

Bush’s remarks came a day after the White House orchestrated an exceptionally aggressive campaign to tar opposition Democrats as weak on terrorism, knowing what Democrats didn’t: News of the plot could soon break.

Vice President Dick Cheney and White House spokesman Tony Snow had argued that Democrats wanted to raise what Snow called "a white flag in the war on terror," citing as evidence the defeat of a three-term Democratic senator who backed the Iraq war in his effort to win renomination.

But Bush aides on Thursday fought the notion that they had exploited their knowledge of the coming British raid to hit Democrats, saying the trigger had been the defeat of Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut by an anti-war political novice.

"The comments were purely and simply a reaction" to Democratic voters who "removed a pro-defense senator and sent the message that the party would not tolerate candidates with such views," said Snow.

"It was not said with the knowledge that this was coming," the spokesman said.

Snow said Bush first learned in detail about the plot on Friday, and received two detailed briefings on it on Saturday and Sunday, as well as had two conversations about it with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

But a senior White House official said that the British government had not launched its raid until well after Cheney held a highly unusual conference call with reporters to attack the Democrats as weak against terrorism.

On Wednesday, Cheney had suggested that Democrats believe "that somehow we can retreat behind our oceans and not be actively engaged in this conflict and be safe here at home, which clearly we know we won’t, we can’t, be," he said.

While some Democrats have opposed some steps in the war on terrorism, and more and more are calling for a withdrawal from Iraq, no major figures in the party have called for a wholesale retreat in the broader conflict.

"Terrorism remains the greatest threat to our security," said Harry Reid, the top Democrat in the US Senate. "As a result of mismanagement and the wrong funding priorities, we are not as safe as we should be."

But Bush’s Republicans hoped the raid would yield political gains.

"I’d rather be talking about this than all of the other things that Congress hasn’t done well," one Republican congressional aide told AFP on condition of anonymity because of possible reprisals.

"Weeks before September 11th, this is going to play big," said another White House official, who also spoke on condition of not being named, adding that some Democratic candidates won’t "look as appealing" under the circumstances.

I guess there were no "anonymous" Democrat officials available.

If the administration had wanted to play politics, wouldn’t they have gotten the British to pull the trigger on these guys before Tuesday’s primaries?

If anything the White House probably had them delay so that it wouldn’t be accused of playing politics.

While some Democrats have opposed some steps in the war on terrorism, and more and more are calling for a withdrawal from Iraq, no major figures in the party have called for a wholesale retreat in the broader conflict.

Oh, my sides.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, August 11th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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