John Kerry has fresh ammunition against George W. Bush in Paul Bremer's remarks, published on the front page of the Washington Post this morning, criticizing the administration for poor planning in Iraq. The former U.S. administrator in pre-handover Iraq says a lack of adequate forces and failure to prevent the violence and looting early on hampered the occupation.
"We paid a big price for not stopping it because it established an atmosphere of lawlessness," Bremer said, according to the Post. "We never had enough troops on the ground." The Post points out that "Bremer's comments were striking because they echoed contentions of many administration critics, including Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry, who argue that the U.S. government failed to plan adequately to maintain security in Iraq after the invasion. Bremer has generally defended the U.S. approach in Iraq but in recent weeks has begun to criticize the administration for tactical and policy shortfalls."
According to the pool report from the Kerry bus, Kerry adviser and spokesman Mike McCurry hopped aboard to tell reporters that Kerry would seize on Bremer's comments at this morning's town hall campaign event. "Bremer? I think you're going to hear a little bit about his comments today...," McCurry said. And hinting at the White House's reputation for punishing those who dare cross it, McCurry said: "We're going to hit it before the administration makes him eat his words later today."
Kerry's also expected to jump on another thorny development for the administration -- Donald Rumsfeld's remarks on Monday to the Council on Foreign Relations that he knows of no "strong, hard evidence" linking Saddam Hussein's Iraq and al-Qaeda. After his appearance at CFR, Rumsfeld issued this statement that his answer to a question about Saddam's ties to al-Qaida "regrettably was misunderstood."