Terror plot gives GOP, Democrats chance to clash over policy
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published August 11, 2006
WASHINGTON - Democrats and Republicans clashed over the war on terror within hours of the disclosure of a thwarted terrorist plot in Britain, each side accusing the other of doing too little to deter the threat of attack.
The disclosure that British officials disrupted plans to blow up aircraft heading to the United States gave both parties an opportunity to emphasize their positions on security - and highlight the differences facing voters.
"Freedom is never free, and we must never be complacent in defending it," House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said. Echoing the GOP's election-year message, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said: "We must be on alert so that our nation does not suffer another attack like 9/11."
Ohio Republicans said the Democratic candidate for the Senate, Rep. Sherrod Brown, had voted against money "for the very types of programs that helped the British thwart these vicious attacks."
Brown, who is challenging Republican Sen. Mike DeWine, mentioned the billions spent on the Iraq war and said the thwarted attacks "underscore the need to refocus our resources on fighting the war on terror."
The charges served as a reminder that with midterm elections less than three months away, not even an alleged attack to blow up passenger planes was off-limits to politics.
Throughout the day, Republicans and Democrats accused each other of using the day's events for political gain.
"We must implement the strong recommendations of the independent 9/11 commission to improve airport security screening at checkpoints," said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, stressing one of her party's key campaign issues.
"As a result of mismanagement and the wrong funding priorities, we are not as safe as we should be," Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada said.
Sen. John Kerry said: "This is a stark reminder that the war on terrorism is global, and extends far beyond Iraq to our very shores."
In 2002 and 2004, the GOP said there hasn't been an attack on U.S. soil since 2001 because the Bush administration and Republicans have been diligent on national security. The GOP said Democrats are weak on the issue and suggested Democratic rule could endanger the country.
In a sign that the issues will reverberate beyond this fall, potential 2008 presidential candidates weighed in.
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's office said he will activate the National Guard to help with security at Logan International Airport.
And New York Gov. George Pataki, also a Republican, said the disrupted terror operation "underscores the need for continued vigilance, intelligence gathering and cooperation among law enforcement agencies and the public."
[Last modified August 11, 2006, 01:52:21]
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