Maryland Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes apologized yesterday for making statements last week about America's policy in the Persian Gulf that included verbatim comments made a day earlier by a prominent historian.
Sarbanes, a Democrat, strongly critized President Bush's policy toward Iraq last Wednesday in a 10-minute exchange with Secretary of State James A. Baker III before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Sarbanes' remarks were widely quoted.
But Bruce Frame, a spokesman for Sarbanes, said yesterday that Sarbanes borrowed three sentences from testimony given the previous day by historian Arthur M. Schlesinger without attributing them. "It's a mistake and he's sorry," Frame said.
Sarbanes "generally does not work from a prepared text and he was not doing so in this case," Frame said. "He had the transcripts of several days of testimony in front of him and he read a paragraph from Dr. Schlesinger's statement. He should have attributed it to him."
Frame said that during his remarks, Sarbanes also made attributed references to testimony by Secretary of Defense Richard B. Cheney and Gen. Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Sarbanes's reuse of Schlesinger's testimony was reported in yesterday's editions of the Baltimore Sun.
The sentences in question concern whether the president alone has the power to take military action against Iraq.
Sarbanes said, "The president, in fact, said in a moving statement, when he spoke about his concern about committing American men to war, said, and I quote him, 'It's only the president that should be asked to make the decision.' I would hope the president would reconsider that remark, because I think if anything is clear about the Constitution, it is that, as Abraham Lincoln said, 'The Constitution was written precisely to ensure that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us.' "
Schlesinger had said, "I notice that the president, in his moving remarks last Friday, about the anguish about setting young kids to war, said, 'It's only the president that should be asked to make the decision.' I hope he will reconsider that remark. If anything is clear about the original intent of the Constitution, it is that, as Abraham Lincoln said, the Constitution was written precisely to ensure that 'no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us.' "