Wolf Blitzer had an interview with Alberto Gonzales a little bit ago, which we won't pain you with. Gonzales beat his drum right along the Whitehouse talking points and kept insisting that Iraq was a major front in the war on terror, as well as downplayed the importance of actually capturing Osama. Following the interview, Max Cleland came on to give his rebuttal:
Not only did Cleland blast Gonzales, but he also got his digs in against the swiftboaters and what he is doing to help Murtha this fall. Cleland did get some great points across. Now if we could only get the administration to listen to people who actually have been in war.
BLITZER: Do you agree with the attorney general as far as his assessment of the importance or lack thereof, if you will, of Osama bin Laden overall in terms of the war on terror?
MAX CLELAND (D), FORMER GEORGIA SENATOR: I don't agree with a damn thing the attorney general said. It is al Qaeda, stupid. It is Osama bin Laden and his terrorist cadre that must be killed or captured, period. If we don't have high government officials in Washington who understand that, we need new high government officials.
Rush transcript from CNN:
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And for another perspective on this debate concerning the war on terror, Max Cleland is joining us. He’s a former
Democratic senator from Georgia, joining us from the CNN Center in Atlanta. Senator, thanks very much for coming in. Do you agree with the
attorney general as far as his assessment of the importance or lack
thereof, if you will, of Osama bin Laden overall in terms of the war on
MAX CLELAND (D), FORMER GEORGIA SENATOR: I don't agree with a damn
thing the attorney general said. It is al Qaeda, stupid. It is Osama
bin Laden and his terrorist cadre that must be killed or captured,
period. If we don't have high government officials in Washington who
understand that, we need new high government officials. This is five
years after September 11th. I went through September 11th, along with
this nation. I was in Washington. I was just a couple of miles from
the pentagon. I saw the smoke. I thought I was back in Vietnam.
It is Al Qaeda, stupid. It is not Iraq. That is why we've got to
redeploy the troops out of Iraq, recover them to this country and make
sure that our national guard and our reserves take care of this country
and refocus our active duty military on killing and capturing Osama bin
Laden. He is the key to worldwide terrorism. If we don't get that now,
we'll never get it.
Now, the thing that bothers me is that instead of going after Osama bin
Laden and his terrorist cadre, they're going after Jack Murtha who after
five years have looked at this situation and having more than 30 years
experience in the marine corps and more than 30 years in congress,
they're going after Jack Murtha and trying to take him out and strip
vote him. And I'm not going to let that happen. Me and my fellow
veterans are going to demonstrate in Johnstown, Pennsylvania for Jack
Murtha September 30th. We invite all Americans to come. We're going to
fight back this year.
BLITZER: Senator, listen to what President Bush says about Al Qaeda
and its current assessment of the war in Iraq. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: For Al Qaeda, Iraq is not a distraction from their war on
America. It is the central battlefield where the outcome of this
struggle will be decided.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right he says it may not have been necessarily the
central battlefield before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, but today for Al
Qaeda, the situation in Iraq is priority number one.
CLELAND: No. No. Al Qaeda is focusing and morphing in 60 different
nations, Madrid, Spain, London, England. Where did the last attack on
this country originate from or attempted attack? London. Now, my
problem is that five years after this attack on our country, people in
Washington, the president, the vice president and the attorney general
obviously, and Secretary Rumsfeld don't get it.
I can't believe it. And instead of attacking Bin Laden, they attack
Jack Murtha. I'm heading up an organization called Vets For Murtha.org,
www.vetsformurtha.org. And we are fighting back this year. We're not
going to let somebody like Jack Murtha who has the experience, look at
the president's policy in Iraq and say that the policy in Iraq has no
clothes. If Iraq was so important, why didn't they put in the 500,000
troops that General Shinseki wanted.
Why didn't they put in the 500,000 troops that Tommy Franks briefed on
the first visit to Crawford, Texas about this war. No, they put in just
enough troops to lose. And they’ve gotten 2600 kids killed. 25,000
maimed and wounded. And this is enough. It’s time to redeploy the
troops and refocus our energies on killing and capturing Osama bin Laden.
BLITZER: Senator Cleland, I want you to clarify this story that came
out in recent days that you're suffering right now from post-traumatic
stress disorder as a result of your injuries during the Vietnam War and
more recently. But our viewers are concerned. Tell our viewers what's
CLELAND: Well you know, war takes it toll. I mean it was Ernest
Hemingway who said, after his injuries in World War I, that "the world
breaks us all, and afterward many are strong at the broken places."
I've been fortunate in my life to have the strength of God and the help
of friends in my life to help get me stronger. But I'm working on it.
It’s a lifetime project for me.
My concern now is about the youngsters coming back from Iraq and
Afghanistan. They're wounded body, mind and soul and we should take
care of them. And that's one reason why I'm fighting for better
counseling and more counseling under the veteran’s administration for
BLITZER: Senator Cleland, thanks very much for joining us.
CLELAND: Thank you.