U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, a Democratic presidential candidate, is taking aim at his party rivals who opposed the war in Iraq. At the same time, he is criticizing the Bush administration for what he says was a lack of planning in post-war Iraq.
Senator Lieberman, a Connecticut Democrat who is seeking his party's nomination in next year's presidential race, delivered a speech on Capitol Hill Monday to defend his staunch support for the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
He said the case against Saddam Hussein was very strong, saying the former Iraqi leader invaded his neighbors, slaughtered and suppressed his own people, funded terrorists and built weapons of mass destruction.
Senator Lieberman's comments were aimed at some other Democratic presidential hopefuls, notably former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, who are vocal opponents of the war. "Some in my party are sending out a message that they do not know a just war when they see it, and more broadly, that they are not prepared to use our military strength to protect our security and the cause of freedom," he said.
Mr. Dean's strong anti-war position has excited party activists. But some moderate Democrats are concerned that Mr. Dean will not do well in a general election because he opposed a war that most Americans backed.
Although Democrats remain divided over the war, they are united in their criticism of the Bush administration's handling of pre-war intelligence on Iraq's weapons programs, and on its post-war planning.
Senator Lieberman echoed questions raised by other Democrats as to why nobody in the administration has been held accountable for a statement in President Bush's State of the Union address in January stating that Iraq had sought uranium from Africa. The statement, which Mr. Bush used in part to make the case for war, has been discredited by the Central Intelligence Agency.
Mr. Lieberman also criticized the administration for insufficient post-war planning in Iraq. "Today we are paying the price. The worst weapons may have slipped into the open market. Very few nations have come to our side, American soldiers are being killed with painful frequency. It did not need to be this way," he said.
Meanwhile, another Democratic Presidential candidate, Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, repeated his call to the administration to immediately seek international assistance for the effort to stabilize and rebuild Iraq.