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Obama lays blame at Republican door

A defiant Barack Obama says he would take no lectures from Republicans on which candidate would keep the US safer.

world Updated: Jun 19, 2008 00:15 IST

A defiant Barack Obama has said he would take no lectures from Republicans on which candidate would keep the US safer, a sharp rebuke to John McCain’s aides who said the Democrat had a naive, September 10 mind-set toward terrorism.

“These are the same guys who helped to engineer the distraction of the war in Iraq at a time when we could have pinned down the people who actually committed 9/11,” the presumed nominee told reporters aboard his campaign plane. “This is the same kind of fear-mongering that got us into Iraq... and it’s exactly that failed foreign policy I want to reverse.”

The rival camps engaged in a war of words on Tuesday that echoed the 2004 presidential campaign in which US President George W. Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney and other Republicans argued that Democratic nominee John Kerry was soft on terror, a claim that resonated with voters and helped propel Bush to re-election. Democrats complained that the Republicans was using the politics of fear.

The Republican argument proved less effective in 2006 when then Bush adviser Karl Rove said the Democrats had a pre-9/11 view of the world and Republicans had a post-9/11 terror attacks perspective. In November of that year, Democrats captured enough congressional seats to seize control of the House and Senate.

On his campaign plane, Obama told reporters that Osama bin Laden is still at large in part because Bush’s strategy toward fighting terror has not succeeded.

At issue were comments Obama made in an interview with ABC News on Monday in which he spoke approvingly of the successful prosecution and imprisonment of those responsible for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Obama was asked how he could be sure the Bush administration’s anti-terrorism policies are not crucial to protecting US citizens.

Obama said the government can crack down on terrorists “within the constraints of our Constitution”. He mentioned the indefinite detention of Guantanamo Bay detainees, contrasting their treatment with the prosecution of the 1993 World Trade Center bombings.

Obama agreed with the Supreme Court ruling last week that detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have a constitutional right to challenge their indefinite imprisonment in US civilian courts. McCain derided the ruling as “one of the worst decisions in the history of this country”.