Kerry Blasts Bush's 'Great Blunder' in Iraq

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:30 PM EDT

( - Armed with a report in Monday's New York Times, Democratic presidential hopeful John F. Kerry today fired new accusations at President Bush -- accusing him of doing nothing while terrorists "may be helping themselves to 'the greatest explosives bonanza' in history.

"President George W. Bush who talks tough -- talks tough -- and brags about making America safer, has once again failed to deliver," Kerry said at a campaign stop in Dover, N.H.

"After being warned about the danger of major stockpiles of explosives in Iraq, this president failed to guard those stockpiles where nearly 380 tons of highly explosive weapons were kept.

Monday's New York Times reported that the "Iraqi interim government has warned the United States and international nuclear inspectors that nearly 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives -- used to demolish buildings, make missile warheads and detonate nuclear weapons -- are missing from one of Iraq's most sensitive former military installations."

The place where the explosives were stored, the report said, has been "picked over by looters."

In a press release on Monday, the Kerry campaign outlined "three major concerns."

It said the explosives "could end up or have already ended up in the hands of a terrorist group; the explosives might be used against our troops on the ground; and the explosives could be used to carry out a deadly attack against America or our allies."

Sen. Kerry, echoing the concern about terrorists, warned on Monday that "terrorists could use this material to kill our troops, our people, blow up airplanes and level buildings."

Kerry noted that in May 2004, the International Atomic Energy Agency "warned that terrorists may be helping themselves to quote, 'the greatest explosives bonanza' in history. And now we know that our country and our troops are less safe because this president failed to do the basics.

"This is one of the great blunders of Iraq; one of the great blunders of this administration," Kerry continued. "And the incredible incompetence of this president and this administration has put our troops at risk and put this country at greater risk than we ought to be.

"Let me say this as directly as I can - that the unbelievable blindness, stubbornness, arrogance of this administration to do the basics has now allowed this president to once again fail the test of being the commander in chief.

Every step of the way, this administration has miscalculated, Kerry said. And he blasted Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld - who "cavalierly dismissed" the looting in Iraq. "And now we know the impact," Kerry said.

Kerry said American troops have been "doing their job honorably." The problem is, he added, "the commander in chief has not been doing his."

"If President Bush can't recognize his failures in Iraq -- which he doesn't admit, won't acknowledge -- you can't fix them. And then he's doomed to repeat the same mistakes elsewhere, whether it's North Korea or Iran or in any of the other risks that we face ahead of us.

"My fellow Americans, we can't afford to risk four more years of George Bush's miscalculations."

President Bush, campaigning Monday in Colorado and Iowa, was expected to discuss the war on terror -- using "new language" to make his point, a spokesman said.

In a taped interview that aired on ABC's "Good Morning America" on Monday, President Bush said he "calculated as best I could the cost of going to war."

President Bush said it was a "very, very heavy decision" for him to make. "You can't put a price tag on a person's life," Bush said. "If the commander in chief withdraws before the mission is completed, it's too great a price."

Bush said it was "essential that we succeed in Iraq...because if we do not succeed in Iraq ...the terrorists will rejoice."

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