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Edwards Opens Fire on Opponents Over Terrorism

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Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards aimed a broadside at his opponents for the Democratic nomination for president Friday, accusing some fellow Democrats of falling in line with President George W. Bush's existing policies.

Edwards' criticism came in a speech in New York outlining his proposed strategy for combating international terrorism, four days ahead of the sixth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks.

"Some running for the Democratic nomination have even argued that the Bush-Cheney approach has made us safer," Edwards said. "It has not."

Spokespersons for the campaigns of Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Edwards was speaking Friday at Pace University in Lower Manhattan, just blocks from the former World Trade Center site.

Edwards repeated his criticism that the "war on terrorism" is just a slogan, and assailed Republican presidential hopefuls Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and John McCain as men who had "responded to the shortcomings and backfires of the Administration's approach by essentially doubling down."

The centerpiece of Edwards' proposal would be a new global organization patterned on NATO.

"[The Counterterrorism and Intelligence Treaty Organization] will create connections between a wide range of nations on terrorism and intelligence, including countries on all continents," he said.

Speaking to reporters after his speech, Edwards said he wanted to "create a structure that broadens the number of countries that participate" in the fight against terrorist organizations like al-Qaida.

He also made it clear that he intended to ratchet up the pressure on countries that were not fighting al-Qaida sufficiently.

"Those nations who refuse to join will be called out before the world," he said during the speech.

Edwards singled out certain countries who he said were not sufficiently assisting the United States and allied nations in the fight against terrorists.

"As president I will condition future American aid on progress by Pakistan," he said. "If we have actionable intelligence about imminent terrorist activity and the Pakistan government refuses to act, we will."

He garnered steady applause from the audience when he insisted that Saudi Arabia be required "to do more to stop the flow of terrorists to Iraq."

One expert in counterterrorism strategy called Edwards' address "a good speech."

"This is the most specific proposal I've heard to get on top of something that we're not on top of," said Thomas Sanderson of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

But Sanderson added that it would be difficult for Edwards to advance his proposal because of concerns over sharing intelligence with countries not trusted by the US intelligence community.

"It's difficult to make it effective for the same reason we've always preferred bilateral relationships for sharing intelligence and counterintelligence threats, because of concerns over the custody of sensitive intelligence," Sanderson said. "We've had lots of multilateral efforts in the past, but the successful model is one that's small."

Another specialist agreed with Sanderson on the difficulty of advancing a proposal like this one.

"Treaties are a long, slow and uncertain road -- he needs to address how he will handle international terrorist challenges from day one as president -- probably years before such a treaty could come into force," said Vikram Singh, an expert on military and security issues at the Center for a New American Security in Washington.

"The devil is in the details with something like this," Singh said. " I think he'll get taken apart by the administration if they choose to comment."

--Michael Roston is a Politics Reporter at The Huffington Post.