Rove's Goal: Resuscitate the Phony Iraq-9/11 Connection

06/28/2005 07:21 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Karl Rove's dishonest attack on liberals was not simply a random political shot, but rather part of an effort to resuscitate the discredited claim that the war in Iraq was a response to 9/11. Where liberals have disagreed with this Administration has not been in response to 9/11, but with regard to the war in Iraq. What Rove is trying to do is to confuse the two issues, thereby trying to bring back the argument that the war in Iraq was in fact part of the war against terrorism. He knows that liberals cannot be faulted in our response to 9/11. What he has tried to do is to use opposition to the war in Iraq as an argument that liberals have been soft on terrorism and 9/11. This is clearly a strategy dictated by the increasing public awareness that the Administration's rationales for the war in Iraq were dishonest, and that neither the weapons of mass destruction argument nor the response to terrorism argument have any validity.

Read my floor speech on Rove here:

"Karl Rove's vicious attack on people who have dared to disagree with Bush Administration policies consists primarily of conscious, deliberate lies. His assertion that 'liberals' responded inadequately to the mass murders of September 11, 2001 is not only false, he knows it to be false. As a liberal, I joined other liberals in Congress in voting in response to 9/11 for the war in Afghanistan. As a member of the Judiciary Committee, I joined every other member of that committee - liberal and conservative alike - in passing unanimously a version of the Patriot Act that significantly strengthened law enforcement powers, a bill of which Chairman James Sensenbrenner boasted in a recent speech on the floor. It is true that when the House leadership improperly used the Rules Committee to block that bill from the floor, and substituted a partisan version, I and some others voted against it. But our support for security appropriate to the threat we face was made clear in that 36-0 vote for significantly enhanced law enforcement powers.

"Liberals were also among the most ardent advocates of creating a Department of Homeland Security, of a commission to study what went wrong on 9/11, and of legislation to embody that commission's recommendations - it was in fact the Bush Administration, whose policies Mr. Rove does so much to formulate, which took the opposing side on all three of these, until they realized that they were on the politically losing end.

"Increasingly in recent months it has become clear that the policies Mr. Rove has successfully urged on President Bush are badly flawed, not only substantively, but politically. Significant majorities of the public have rejected the Rove-approved effort to privatize a significant part of Social Security, and the Rove-supported effort in the sad case of Terri Schiavo to have right-wing ideology substitute its decision for that of her husband, and the entire judicial system of the state of Florida. Understanding that defense of these and other policies will not work politically, Mr. Rove has obviously decided to do whatever he can to change the subject, and the dimensions of his political problem dictated that this effort be a spectacular one. That is why Mr. Rove has made this outrageous, wholly unsubstantiated attack, not joining any of the issues - the conduct of the war in Iraq, Social Security, the Schiavo case, the inadequacies of the federal budget, stem cell research etc. - but rather blatantly smearing people whose political sin has been to disagree with Mr. Rove on these failed policies.

"Rove's bizarre, reckless assaults on his opponents do not stand in isolation. They are the latest example of a pattern of abuse of power and influence which has become the hallmark of Republican rule, from the interrelated activities of Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist, to the subversion of the integrity of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, to the consistent misuse of House rules to suppress democracy. The problem with Mr. Rove's smear is not that he has hurt the feelings of liberals. It is that he is using his high White House position further to poison the conduct of democratic debate in our country, and that cannot go unanswered."