WASHINGTON (AFP) - US Democrats stepped up attacks on George W. Bush's anti-terror policies when an official of White House candidate John Kerry's campaign said the president "flat-out lied" over the Iraq war.
Former senator Max Cleland made his remarks in a conference call to reporters with Democratic chairman Terry McAuliffe as part of a party offensive ahead of this week's release of a major report sure to fuel criticism of Bush's war on terror.
Cleland, a national co-chairman of Kerry's campaign, described the Bush administration's arguments that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and ties to al-Qaeda terrorists, as a "pack of lies."
The former lawmaker from the southern state of Georgia defended the vote that he, Kerry and others cast in the Senate to authorize military intervention in Iraq, saying the Congress was "flat-out lied to."
Asked whether they were lied to by the intelligence services or the White House, he said emphatically: "By the president, by the vice president and by the secretary of defense."
"This country is less safe and less secure because of George Bush's decision to go to war alone and alienate the Arab and Islamic world and generate more recruits for al-Qaeda," he said.