Stepping it up


Geraldine Sealey
September 27, 2004 6:21PM (UTC)

A few days ahead of the first presidential debate, Ted Kennedy will give another one of his fiery speeches today condemning Bush for his foreign policy failures -- this time charging that the Bush administration has made us more vulnerable to a "nuclear 9/11" for not rebuilding Iraq, not shutting down al-Qaida and fueling the insurgency in Iraq.

''The war in Iraq has made the mushroom cloud more likely, not less likely,'' Kennedy will say in Washington today -- and he will also say he's relieved Bush wasn't in charge during the Cuban missile crisis when his brother was president and the country came this close to nuclear war with the Soviet Union

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"Kennedy's Monday speech details 13 reasons why Bush's policies have not made the United States safer from terrorism. Among other things, he said the war in Iraq created a new breeding ground for terrorists, distracted from efforts to eliminate al-Qaida, alienated America's allies and allowed North Korea and Iran to pursue nuclear weapons."

Excerpts of the speech (courtesy of ABC's The Note): "The president's handling of the war has been a toxic mix of ignorance, arrogance, and stubborn ideology. No amount of Presidential rhetoric or preposterous campaign spin can conceal the facts about the steady downward spiral in our national security since President Bush made the decision to go to war in Iraq. If this election is decided on the question of whether America is safer because of President George Bush, John Kerry will win in a landslide. "

"What is helping to unite so many of the Iraqi people in hatred of America is their emerging sense that America is unwilling not just unable to rebuild their shattered country and provide for their basic needs. Far from sharing President Bush's unrealistically rosy view, they see up-close that their hope for peace and stability is receding every day. Inevitably, more and more Iraqis feel that attacks on coalition forces are acceptable, even if they would not resort to violence themselves."

"The Bush Administration's focus on Iraq has left us needlessly more vulnerable to an Al Qaeda attack with a nuclear weapon. The greatest threat of all to our homeland is a nuclear attack. A mushroom cloud over any American city is the ultimate nightmare, and the risk is all too real. Osama bin Laden calls the acquisition of a nuclear device a "religious duty." Documents captured from a key Al Qaeda aide three years ago revealed plans even then to smuggle high-grade radioactive materials into the United States in shipping containers."

"If Al Qaeda can obtain a nuclear weapon, they will certainly use it on New York, or Washington, or any of America's other major cities. The greatest danger we face in the days and weeks and months ahead is a nuclear 9/11, and we hope and pray that it is not already too late to prevent. The war in Iraq has made the mushroom cloud more likely, not less likely."


Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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