U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, a leading liberal voice in Congress, is taking aim at President Bush's foreign policy, urging the administration not to rush to war against Iraq.
Senator Kennedy, in a speech in Washington, sided with U.S. allies who are urging that more time be allowed for weapons inspections in Iraq.
On the day President Bush warned that time is running out for Iraq to disarm, Senator Kennedy argued that a U.S.-led war against that country could impact negatively on other areas of U.S. foreign policy.
"I continue to be convinced that this is the wrong war at the wrong time," he said. "The threat from Iraq is not imminent, and it will distract America from the two more immediate threats to our security: the clear and present danger of terrorism and the crisis with North Korea."
Senator Kennedy blamed Bush administration policies for the North Korea crisis. He urged Washington to focus more attention on the issue.
He said, "Now with the inspectors gone and North Korea gone from the Non-Proliferation Treaty, we face an urgent crisis, with nothing to prevent that nation from quickly producing a significant amount of nuclear materials and nuclear weapons for its own use, or for terrorists hostile to America and our allies."
On the issue of the war on terrorism, Mr. Kennedy said the United States is still not adequately prepared to deal with an attack involving weapons of mass destruction.
He urged the administration to wage its anti-terrorism campaign without violating civil and privacy rights laws.
"The ideals we stand for here at home and around the world are indispensable to our strength," he said. "We abandon those ideals, if in the name of homeland security, we embrace, without respect for the Constitution, measures such as military tribunals, monitoring of attorney-client communications without court orders, detention of U.S. citizens without legal counsel or fair judicial review, wholesale invasions of privacy, or mass registration and fingerprinting of Muslims and Arabs."
As Mr. Bush prepares for a likely reelection bid next year, Democrats including those seeking to challenge him for the White House have been increasingly critical of the president's foreign policy.