Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Democratic Candidate Blasts Rumsfeld

WASHINGTON -- A House Democratic candidate accused Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld of lying about the progress in Iraq, a day after the Pentagon chief lashed out at critics of the Bush administration.

"After 21 months of trying to find something I can agree with Secretary Rumsfeld on, it is true: the American people are being lied to and I totally agree with Secretary Rumsfeld," Eric Massa, a Navy veteran, said Wednesday. "What I disagree with is the fact that he's the one doing the lying."

The New York Democrat and another House candidate, Tim Walz, discussed Rumsfeld's speech in a conference call with reporters. The national party had arranged the call.

On Tuesday, Rumsfeld told veterans at an American Legion meeting that the world faces "a new type of fascism" and warned against repeating the pre-World War II mistake of appeasement.

Rumsfeld alluded to critics of the Bush administration's war policies in terms associated with the failure to stop Nazism in the 1930s, "a time when a certain amount of cynicism and moral confusion set in among the Western democracies."

Without explicitly citing Bush critics at home or abroad, he said "it is apparent that many have still not learned history's lessons."

Massa, who is challenging one-term Republican Rep. Randy Kuhl, said he was outraged by Rumsfeld's comments and faulted him for blaming the media for his own misstatements and missteps.

In his speech, Rumsfeld criticized the media for paying more attention to a single soldier accused of misconduct than a soldier awarded a Medal of Honor, saying the fight against terrorism is fought in part on the Internet and in the media.

"Those who know the truth need to speak out against these types of myths and distortions that are being told about our troops and about our country. America is not what's wrong with the world," Rumsfeld said.

The Pentagon had no immediate reaction to the candidates' criticism.

Walz, a Minnesota schoolteacher and veteran of the U.S. Army National Guard, said the Bush administration has no effective plan to secure the country.

"This thing has disintegrated," Walz said of Iraq. "On the macro level, there's an absolute failure."

Tracey Schmitt, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, said the Democratic candidates' strategy is to criticize Republican efforts to win the war on terror, while elected Democrats are "committed to a strategy that will weaken our ability to defend America and make us less safe at home and abroad."



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