Senator Kerry: End US Occupation of Iraq
  Agence France-Presse

  Wednesday 16 July 2003

 Washington, DC - US Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry called for an end to the US occupation of Iraq and criticized the administration's use of now discredited intelligence as a basis for launching the war. "I fought in Vietnam, and half the wall -- half the (Vietnam Veterans Memorial) wall -- is filled with the names of people who were there because leaders were filled with pride and wouldn't make the right decisions," Kerry told NBC television.

 "We need to get the sense of American occupation over with. We need to protect our troops. And that means that pride should not prevent this administration from going to the United Nations and doing what they should have done in the first place," he declared.

 Kerry also criticized US President George W. Bush's use in his January 28 State of the Union address of the erroneous claim that Iraq sought to buy nuclear material from Africa.

 Central Intelligence Agency Director George Tenet has taken responsibility for that claim and was to testify before a congressional panel investigating the matter later Wednesday.

 "Remember the old saying, Harry Truman's saying, 'The buck stops here'? Right now, apparently, the buck stops at Langley (CIA headquarters). And there are a lot of questions about the political input to this intelligence," Kerry told NBC's "Today" show.

 "We have to see what happened."

 The US senator for Massachusetts, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, also criticized the administration's efforts leading up to the war in Iraq, launched on March 20.

 "I made it very clear that their diplomacy leading up to the war was inadequate," Kerry said.

 "I said I thought the president should have even done more diplomacy before he went to war. I said to the president, 'Mr. President, don't rush to war. You need to build the large coalition necessary in order to win the peace.'

 "And I said very clearly, winning the war was not what was difficult, it's winning the peace," Kerry said. "And I don't think the president put a plan together to do that."