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Max Cleland: "I Don't Agree With A Damn Thing The Attorney General Said"

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 Whitehous

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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:

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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

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. 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

going on.

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

them.

BLITZER: Senator Cleland, thanks very much for joining us.

CLELAND: Thank you.

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