Sat, Jun 25, 2005 - Page 7 News List

Karl Rove angers Democrats with Sept. 11 remark

DIVISION The White House adviser accused Democrats of `offering therapy' in response to the terrorists rather than embracing a war footing

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , WASHINGTON

Leading Democrats reacted furiously on Thursday to remarks by White House adviser Karl Rove suggesting that Democrats had responded to the Sept. 11 attacks by wanting to "prepare indictments and offer therapy," with some calling for him to apologize or resign.

The remarks also rippled through New York political circles, putting two top Republicans, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor George Pataki, on the defensive in the state that bore the brunt of the 2001 terror attacks.

Rove made the comments during a fundraiser in Manhattan on Wednesday, saying: "Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers."

"Conservatives saw what happened to us on 9/11 and said, `We will defeat our enemies,'" Rove continued at a gathering in midtown Manhattan for the Conservative Party of New York State. "Liberals saw what happened to us and said, `We must understand our enemies.'"

cascade of criticism

This led to a cascade of criticism from Democratic lawmakers, particularly in the Senate, where Republicans have sought to put the party on the defensive for days after leading Democratic Senator Richard Durbin compared abusive treatment of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, with the war crimes of the Nazis and the Khmer Rouge.

"Karl Rove should immediately and fully apologize for his remarks or he should resign," Democratic Senator Harry Reid, the minority leader, said in a statement. "Dividing our country for political gain is an insult to all Americans and to the common memory we all carry with us from that day."

strenuous defense

The White House immediately rejected the Democrats' demands for an apology, offering a strenuous defense of Rove and suggesting that his statements had been taken out of context.

"Karl was simply pointing out the different philosophies and different approaches when it comes to winning the war on terrorism," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.

"If people want to try to engage in personal attacks instead of defending their philosophy, that's their business," McClellan said. "But it's important to point out the different approaches to this when it comes to winning the war on terrorism. That's all he was doing."

A ranking Republican official later argued that Democrats were blowing Rove's comments out of proportion, noting that his comments specifically referred to the post-Sept. 11 positions of Web site MoveOn.org, filmmaker Michael Moore and Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean, not congressional Democrats or the party itself.

The back and forth over Rove's comments came after Republicans spent days pummeling Durbin for likening US mistreatment of detainees to the acts of "Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings."

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