Former vice president Al Gore accused President Bush's war cabinet of reckless incompetence yesterday and called for the resignations of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and CIA Director George J. Tenet.
"George W. Bush promised us a foreign policy with humility. Instead, he has brought us humiliation in the eyes of the world," Gore said at a speech in New York sponsored by the liberal MoveOn PAC. "We simply cannot afford to further increase the risk to our country with more blunders by this team."
Gore, jabbing his fingers and raising his voice to a shout, called the horrors of the Abu Ghraib prison "the predictable consequence of policy choices that flowed directly from this administration's contempt for the rule of law." His broad critique of that policy ranged from its aims to its vocabulary, and he complained about Bush aides' "frequent use of the word 'dominance' to describe their strategic goal."
The former vice president did not mention Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, who successfully lobbied Bush to go to the United Nations before attacking Iraq. Gore, who lost the presidency to Bush by 577 votes in Florida and a 5 to 4 decision by the Supreme Court, said the victor "has brought deep dishonor to our country and built a durable reputation as the most dishonest president since Richard Nixon."
The speech, at New York University, was the highest-profile appearance by Gore since he endorsed former Vermont governor Howard Dean for the Democratic presidential nomination. Yesterday, Gore included an endorsement of Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), the presumptive nominee. "Our nation's best interest lies in having a new president who can turn a new page, sweep clean with a new broom," Gore said. He said Kerry "should not tie his own hands by offering overly specific, detailed proposals concerning a situation that is rapidly changing and, unfortunately, rapidly deteriorating, but should rather preserve his, and our country's, options, to retrieve our national honor as soon as this long national nightmare is over."
In calling for the resignations, Gore said that Rice "has badly mishandled the coordination of national security policy" and that "the nation is especially at risk every single day that Rumsfeld remains as secretary of defense." Gore said three of Rumsfeld's deputies should also resign: Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz; Douglas J. Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy; and Stephen A. Cambone, undersecretary of defense for intelligence.
The sixth resignation Gore demanded was from Tenet, a holdover from the Clinton administration. "He is a personal friend, and I know him to be a good and decent man. It is especially painful to call for his resignation," Gore said. "But I have regretfully concluded that it is extremely important that our country have new leadership at the CIA immediately."
Jim Dyke, communications director of the Republican National Committee, issued a statement saying that during Gore's eight years as vice president, "Osama Bin Laden declared war on the United States five times and terrorists killed U.S. citizens on at least four different occasions."
"Al Gore's attacks on the president today demonstrate that he either does not understand the threat of global terror, or he has amnesia," Dyke said.