The Daily Telegraph UK
Bush Seeks Political Gains From Plot
Friday 11 August 2006
US President George W. he accused of having all but forgotten the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Weighed down by the unpopular war in Iraq, Mr Bush and his aides have
**I wonder if it was serious enough for him to end his vacation?**
"It is a mistake to believe there is no threat to the United States of America," he said. "We've taken to protect the American people. But obviously we still aren't completely safe."
Vice President Dick Cheney and White House spokesman Tony Snow had argued that Democrats wanted to raise what Mr Snow called "a white flag in the war on terror", citing as evidence the defeat of a three-term Democratic senator who backed the Iraq war in his effort to win renomination.
But Bush aides today fought the notion that they had exploited their knowledge of the coming British raid to hit Democrats, saying the trigger had been the defeat of Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut by an anti-war political novice.
"The comments were purely and simply a reaction" to Democratic voters who "removed a pro-defence Senator and sent the message that the party would not tolerate candidates with such views," said Mr Snow.
The public relations offensive "was not done in anticipation. It was not said with the knowledge that this was coming," the spokesman said.
Mr Snow said Mr Bush first learned in detail about the plot on Saturday, and received two detailed briefings on it on Sunday and Monday, as well as had two conversations about it with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
An aide to Senator Lieberman, who would have been one of the first Democrats to hear of the plot because he is the top Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said the lawmaker first heard of it on Thursday.
On Thursday, Mr Cheney had suggested that Democrats believe "that somehow we can retreat behind our oceans and not be actively engaged in this conflict and be safe here at home, which clearly we know we won't, we can't, be," he said.
While some Democrats have opposed some steps in the war on terrorism, and more and more are calling for a withdrawal from Iraq, no major figures in the party have called for a wholesale retreat in the broader conflict.
But Mr Bush's Republicans hoped the raid would .
"I'd rather be talking about this than all of the other things that Congress hasn't done well," one Republican congressional aide said on condition of anonymity because of possible reprisals.