The RNC is in a tizzy over John Kerry’s interview on “This Week” today. RNC Communications Director Brian Jones responded to Kerry’s appearance on ABC’s This Week saying:
“Sen. Kerry displayed his signature pessimism and defeatism today that the American people rejected during his failed presidential bid. While Democrat leaders like Sen. Kerry continue to show they still do not grasp the dynamic and dangers of a post 9/11 world, President Bush remains focused on doing everything in his power to keep Americans safe and secure.”
What gets the RNC ticked off is that John Kerry refuses to buy into the fear and smear tactics of right wing. Kerry made it perfectly clear today when he laid Bush and Rove out on the carpet for their complete and utter failure to capture Osama bin Laden.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Now, Osama bin Laden has not been found, has not been captured.
But Vice President Cheney is right, isn’t he, and how much credit should President Bush get?
KERRY: No, he’s not.
He’s right that we haven’t been attacked. He is not right, and I’m glad he reminded Americans, about having said we will do everything in our power and use all the forces at our disposal.
The simple fact is that we had Osama bin Laden cornered, trapped, ready to be captured or killed in the mountains of Tora Bora.
And this administration — it is a fact — has misled Americans about the knowledge they had of whether or not he was there, number one, and, number two, did not do everything that they could have in order to capture him. I know this. Others know this.
There were SEALS there, there were special forces on the ground, there were the 1st Marines, the 101st. There were people available — the 10th Mountain Division. They could have been brought in to surround that mountainside to guarantee that he didn’t get out.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That was 2001, but it’s now 2005 and there have not been any more attacks on the homeland. Address that point.
KERRY: But, George — I will address that point — now let’s come to the heart of this.
The vice president just said that they would do anything necessary and he reminded Americans of that. And they’re trying to claim somehow that they’re stronger and better on the war on terror.
The fact is, when they had a chance to kill or capture Osama bin Laden they didn’t do it, and they didn’t do it because they ran a risk-adverse strategy, period, and that’s what happened.
Now, with respect to the rest of this effort, they diverted their attention from Afghanistan, which is now going backwards in some regards. You’re seeing more capable weapons coming in, IEDs. You’re seeing greater intensity to the kind of violence on the ground.
The south Waziristan, north Waziristan bogging down with the Pakistani troops has shown a lack of genuine leadership and cooperative effort on the part of the United States and others to be able to survive there. The Al Qaida — front page story New York Times today — is stronger in that region than it was.
So, yes, we have not been attacked here. Many people surmise that one of the reasons we haven’t been attacked here is because they are being so successful at doing what they need to do to attack us in Iraq and elsewhere.
And so that’s the focus currently of the war on terror.
And I believe if you look at what’s happened with North Korea, with their efforts, you look at what’s happened in the lack of options that we have militarily with respect to North Korea, partly because we’re overextended in Iraq, you look at the nuclear weapons of North Korea, you look at what’s happened overall in America’s leverage in the world and this administration, in fact, is not fighting the war on terror as effectively as it ought to be.
STEPHANOPOULOS: They are still going on offense, though, politically…
KERRY: Because that’s what they do politically, George, and I’m an expert at that. I understand exactly what they do.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, that’s what I want to get to.
An issue now is warrant-less wiretaps, the president’s program. Karl Rove was back out on Friday defending the program and being very aggressive. Here’s what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROVE: President Bush believes if Al Qaida is calling somebody in America, it is in our national security interest to know who they’re calling and why. (APPLAUSE)
Some important Democrats clearly disagree.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: He must have had you in mind. You’ve called the program a clear violation of the law.
Let’s get real here — the mastermind of 9/11 is still running around issuing video tapes threatening this country. The Bush administration failed to “grasp” the danger — Osama bin Laden — when he was within their reach. Bush is clueless on how to keep American’s “safe and secure.” Illegal wiretaps on innocent citizens are not the answer.
KERRY: We don’t disagree with him at all. It is a violation of law and we don’t disagree with him at all, and this is exactly what Karl Rove does. Let me tell you something.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But how can you think it’s a violation and not disagree?
KERRY: You know, Osama bin Laden is going to die of kidney failure before he’s killed by Karl Rove and his crowd. And all he does is divide America over this issue and exploit it. And what he’s trying to pretend is somehow Democrats don’t want to eavesdrop appropriately to protect the country. That’s a lie.
We’re prepared to eavesdrop wherever and whenever necessary in order to make America safer. But we put a procedure in place to protect the constitutional rights of Americans. And what I believe, George, and I believe it deeply, is you can protect the United States of America without devoiding, without ignoring the Constitution of the country.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But intelligence officials, and I’ve spoken to some of them, say it’s just not practical. You can’t run this kind of a detection program through the current FISA court.
KERRY: Then come to us and tell us how you can do it so that you need some more blanket form of doing it. There is a way to protect the Constitution and not go off on your own and violate it. That’s the simple bottom line here. Americans…
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you’re open to changing the law?
KERRY: Of course, if you need to in order to protect — but show us how you can’t do what you need to do today. They’ve never done that. There’s nothing in the FISA law that we passed that suggests the president has this power. That’s number one.
Number two, the president never came to us and said, we’re having difficulties doing this.
Number three, there have been over 19,000 — I believe it is — 19,000 warrants issued. I think only five have been denied in the entire course of time.
The court has been set up so that it’s possible on a matter of minutes to say we need you sitting — we need you available. We have a situation developing. There’s all the method in the world to protect the Constitution of the United States and the privacy of Americans.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So if you think this is a clear violation of the law, why not move to cut off funding for the program?
KERRY: That’s premature.
I think the first thing to do is say, how do we make sure we’re protecting the security of the country? If they have a problem with this, then come to Congress.
You know, this is really typical of the way they’ve been managing this city. The culture of sort of arrogance and corruption that has been allowed to take over Washington, D.C., evidenced also by the Abramoff scandal, by what you see.
And there’s more in the interview today, that clearly set off what will most likely be the next round of fear and smear attacks on John Kerry from the RNC. Read the full transcript of the interview here.
Welcome back, Senator Kerry from your trip to the Middle East, it appears the RNC has missed you…
UPDATE: The WaPo reports, Two Lawmakers Criticize Bush on Eavesdropping.