Kerry will mount defense of Iraq war criticism

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    Senator's speech to call attacks on dissenters unfair
    By Raja Mishra, Globe Staff | April 22, 2006

    In a symbolically charged speech, US Senator John F. Kerry plans to declare today that Iraq war critics are patriots unfairly tarred by the Bush administration as disloyal.

    The speech comes on the 35th anniversary of Kerry's antiwar testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in which he famously asked, ''How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

    Kerry's 11 a.m. speech at Faneuil Hall is billed by his aides as a major address on patriotism, dissent, and Iraq. It comes as President Bush's approval ratings are at an all-time low and the interim government in Iraq is paralyzed by sectarian squabbling, while the toll among Iraqis mounts and the US military death count stands at 2,384.

    Last week, several retired US generals called on Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to resign, blaming his tactical decisions for the problems in Iraq.

    In an op-ed piece in today's Globe, which aides say mirrors the themes of his speech, Kerry writes that: ''Thirty-five years later, in another war gone off course, I see history repeating itself."

    ''Again, we must refuse to sit quietly and watch our troops sacrificed for a policy that isn't working while Americans who dissent and ask tough questions are branded unpatriotic," writes Kerry.

    Kerry's aides yesterday would not provide a copy of his speech, and it was unclear if he would offer his own recommendations for changing strategy in Iraq.

    Kerry's run for the presidency against Bush in 2004 was steeped in references to his Vietnam War service, though that history cut both ways. While supporters said his background gave him standing as an authoritative critic of the war in Iraq, some conservatives expressed outrage over his criticism of the administration during wartime.

    At a critical juncture in the 2004 campaign, a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, composed of GOP-affiliated Vietnam veterans, questioned the details of Kerry's service, suggesting that the multiple medal-winner had lied about certain aspects of his war service.

    In today's op-ed piece, Kerry ties those attacks with the ones he says have been unfairly launched against Iraq war critics: ''The Swift Boat-style attacks that have been aimed at dissenters . . . hurt our democracy even more than they wound their target."
    http://www.boston.com/news/local/ma...rry_will_mount_defense_of_iraq_war_criticism/
     

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