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Edwards to Offer Anti-Terror Plan
Criticizing Bush and Democratic Rivals

With the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks looming, John Edwards will present a stark assessment of the country's struggle against terrorism Friday, saying the nation is less safe than it was six years ago and calling for a new worldwide organization to combat the threat.

In a speech at Pace University in Lower Manhattan, and with an introduction from a Sept. 11 widow and activist Kristen Breitweiser, the former North Carolina senator and Democratic presidential candidate is planning to propose creating a "Counterterrorism and Intelligence Treaty Organization." This would serve as a kind of modern-day NATO, giving member countries a way to better track terrorists' communications, recruiting and financing, on the theory that breaking up plots requires cross-border cooperation, as shown in Germany's foiling of an alleged plot this week.

"There is now only one key question we must ask ourselves: Are we any closer to getting rid of terrorism than we were six years ago? And the terrible answer is no, we're further away," Edwards is expected to say.

Edwards's speech will further stir debate in an area that has featured some of the sharpest exchanges on the Democratic side so far, as candidates seek to criticize President Bush's approach against terrorism while at the same time also trying to avoid sounding like as though they will adopt a less forceful tack. In a July speech, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said he would be willing to invade Pakistan to pursue Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders even without Pakistan's approval, a statement that some of his rivals criticized as rash.

In today's speech, Edwards is expected to sound a less-explicit warning, saying, "if the Pakistani government fails to take care of the problem of al-Qaeda, we will." He is also expected to sharply criticize those that say, as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) did in one debate, that the country is safer than it was prior to before 2001. And he will once again call into question Bush's framing of the struggle against terrorism as a "war," saying that this overly emphasizes military rather than investigative tactics and plays into terrorists' hands -- an argument that has already won him ridicule from Republican presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani.

"Islamic extremists wanted to frame the conflict with the U.S. as a war of civilizations, and the Bush administration, stuck in a Cold War mentality, happily complied," Edwards plans to say.

The new structure is needed, say those advising Edwards, given that NATO does not include many countries in which Islamic terrorists operate, and given that other international bodies, such as the UN and Interpol, include countries that have contributed to the world terror threat. To belong to the new international body, countries would have to pledge to tough criteria for pursuing extremists or terrorism financing within their own borders, and nations that declined to take part would be singled out, which could encourage more assistance from nations such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, Edwards's advisers say.

"There has been a reluctance about really cracking down on countries," said Gordon Adams, an international relations professor at American University advising Edwards. "This is a way of saying, 'Are you prepared to step up to this question and really make your policy stick or are you not?'."

Other measures in Edwards' strategy will include providing 1,000 scholarships to promote better language skills in the diplomatic and intelligence corps, greater emphasis on "human intelligence" generally, and more focus on staving off radicalism in Muslim communities within America.

--Alec MacGillis

By Post Editor  |  September 6, 2007; 7:45 PM ET
 
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Comments

About that bumpersticker...here's the deal: when the Bush admin says "war on terror" they are using this as a bumpersticker phrase justifying our current war in Iraq, their on-the-table-plans to attack Iran, the existance of Gitmo and who knows what else.

You know, it's like when these folks say, "support the troops" as a way of quelling any dissent. It's used as a meaningless catch-phrase to excuse any actions, regardless of how effective, or legal, they may be.

By putting out a serious proposal to fight terrorism - not just using it as a pretext to invade sovereign nations because we have old scores to settle - Edwards shows that he takes this subject far more seriously than anyone to date in the Bush administration.

I would also like to see the Post do a more in-depth piece on this subject.

Posted by: grannyhelen | September 7, 2007 7:34 PM | Report abuse

I just love the (purported) conservatives whose thoughtful response to the plan Edwards has proposed is a reference to the cost of his haircut. Never mind the fact that Bush has done just about everything anyone could possibly do to increase recruitment in terror organizations. Never mind that he actually said that bin Laden was not a priority and that he isn't concerned with him. And never mind that not one of the GOP candidates has come up with anything other than a variation on the "stay the course" rhetoric that Bush actually denied saying.

We're at a point in our history where the very same people who advocate a muscular defense and an aggressive -- indeed, preemptive -- military policy are so afraid of the very prospect of terrorism that they're willing to give up the precious freedoms they claim they want to bring to the rest of the world.

As a result, candidates win because they (pretend to) drive red pickup trucks and tell stories about possums; candidates get away with changing their positions on every major issue for political expedience; and the personal morality of candidates who run on a "family values" platform is now off limits because their own conduct is "irrelevant" to what they'd be like as leaders.

Personally, I'll take someone who offers ideas and can defend them. But then, how can real ideas about fighting terrorism stand a chance if they're offered by someone who paid too much for a haircut -- particularly if he can't even tell a good possum story?

Posted by: jlf | September 7, 2007 4:31 PM | Report abuse

John Edwards is the only candidate that seems to speak even remotely and with substance of the concerns of average Americans ,i.e, health care, repairing Bush's destructive policies at home and abroad and terrorism. Keep in mind, we have a chance to elect candidate with a high level of intellect and not just another smooth talking movie star.

Posted by: alisongolden | September 7, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

left out of the otherwise good article was also the concpts of helping poor and endangered countries in areas of health care, poverty and education. Edwards posits a truly coherent and multi-pronged approach which also emphasizes the good of america and helps to alleviate a source of desperation which drives many to listen to the terrorists. it really is remarkable what people can think of when they are thoughtful, articulate intelligent and caring!

Posted by: richard.thaler | September 7, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Finally, he's come to his senses. I thought he called it a bomper sticker. Well, Obama should be credited for taking the lead on this issue. It seems Edward and the rest of the Candidates knew Obama was right on the Pakistan's issue but they all pandered to the media.

Go Barack! I am glad Americans are finally giving you credit on judgement. Way to go Edward but i'll give credit to Obama for fore sight and good judgement on terrorism.

Posted by: gbuze007 | September 7, 2007 2:08 PM | Report abuse

John Edwards tells it like he sees it-- basically saying Bush gave us his father's war without Elder Bush's allies, decency, and vision. We walked into the trap the Islamic fanatics planned.

http://www.johnedwards.com/...

Excerpts: "The world stood united behind America after 9/11. But instead of leading a truly visionary campaign against global terrorism, our president led America down a garden path. He used the attacks to justify a preconceived war against a nation he now admits had no ties to Al Qaeda.

Saddam Hussein was the threat he knew, so Iraq was the war he waged.

George Bush literally gave us his father's war--but without his father's allies or his father's sense of decency.

In George Bush's reality, disagreement is called weak, challenge is suspect, and opposition downright unpatriotic.

Bush's "war on terror" approach walked directly into the trap the terrorists set for us. Islamic extremists wanted to frame the conflict with the U.S. as a war of civilizations, and the Bush Administration, stuck in a Cold War mentality, happily complied.

The devastating consequences of the Bush "war on terror" doctrine are so clear that his own Administration has had to admit them.

A recent National Intelligence Estimate found that Al Qaeda is now as strong as it was before 9/11.... The State Department recently released a study showing that terrorism has increased worldwide 25 percent in 2006, including a 40 percent surge in civilian fatalities".

Posted by: marsha.sompayrac | September 7, 2007 12:59 PM | Report abuse

No terrorist attacks on our soil in 6 years.

This is because we have taken the fight to these skanks and many of them are either dead or in custody.

All Edwards has to show for the past 6 years is a huge haircut bill.

Posted by: gthstonesman | September 7, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Let me get this straight, when Barack Obama says that if Musharraf doesn't address the terrorist in his country, he will, that means he wants to invade Pakistan. When Edwards says "if the Pakistani government fails to take care of the problem of al-Qaeda, we will", that's just leadership. BS. This just Johnny come lately, trying to get in the game after having cosigned this stupid Iraq war. Not interested in the new, revised John Edwards.

Posted by: bluevoter | September 7, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

John Edwards will be a great President!

However, the corporate media and their corporate sponsors prefer Centrist and Repub presidents who will continue corporate welfare at the expense of The People.

Notice the Dems and Repubs candidates hawking terrorism and warmongering that helps keep the corporate welfare machine in business.

Posted by: annefrank | September 7, 2007 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Very interesting. I hope the Post will cover the speech so we can learn more details.

Posted by: pmorlan1 | September 6, 2007 08:16 PM

The speech will be available on John Edwards' website, just like every other speech that he has done.

Why don't you go there and read it for yourself instead of waiting for someone to tell you what you should think about it.

Posted by: indefenseofjohnedwards | September 6, 2007 08:43 PM

Did I say that I wanted someone else to tell me what to think? What a rude comment. I just want to see the media COVER EDWARDS!

For someone that supports Edwards you sure have a funny way of showing it. Nice going dude insulting other people who express an interest in him. With friends like you Edwards doesn't need enemies.

Posted by: pmorlan1 | September 7, 2007 7:20 AM | Report abuse

Edwards has been leading on all the issues from the very beginning. However the corporate owned media has been dishing out 24/7 hit jobs on him, actually very similar to what the media did to Gore in 2000. The "powers that be" know an Edwards presidency will no longer by business as usual. Hence they are trying to discredit the messenger. His message will be heard. The American people will realize he is one of the rare people amongst us regular folks who has done extraordinarily well in persuing the American dream. The key thing is he IS one of us!! He is now on a mission to bring these same opportunities to every one of us, fighting for "we the people".

John Edwards 2008
"The Peoples President"

Posted by: asher13 | September 7, 2007 1:40 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, but who do we bomb?!?!?! Who do we bomb?!?!?! I want bombs!!!! Waaaaaahhhh!!! *sniff!* Lousy international cooperation... :-(

Seriously, this sounds like an excellent idea. This is what Bush should have done the week following Sept. 11, or at least after we subdued Afghanistan.

I'm still in Obama's camp, but this is making me take a fresh look at Edwards (as I'm sure was the point - it worked!).

Posted by: kargovroom | September 6, 2007 11:39 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, terrorism has been politicized to death which does nothing to address the threat.

We must be serious about terrorism and its threat and be willing to listen to all serious proposals to address the threat. It's great to hear that somebody will actually be putting concrete ideas on the table for a change. Finally!

Posted by: john13 | September 6, 2007 11:38 PM | Report abuse

This is a great idea. Although I was not so inclined toward Edwards months ago, I see him now as the best candidate in either party for President in '08. No Republican inspires any interest (hampered further by W's debacle), Hillary is "Republican Lite," and Obama is too "let's all get along" to shake things up (although he is a good 2d choice to Edwards).

Posted by: rej123 | September 6, 2007 11:37 PM | Report abuse

Edwards has a grand vision to restore greatness to the US. He would assist Hillary as a vice president.

Posted by: antiwar | September 6, 2007 11:20 PM | Report abuse

If the United nations has anything to do with it, might as well not do it.

Ok Edwards you seem to be the first on the block Democrat or Republican thats going to put it in black and white with I John Edwards swear to follow through with this regardless of whether Republicans will help or not, and if it's not passed it won't be because I pussed..

Whatever you do, don't have Reid or Pelosi near you, we've already seen what their promises are worth (less)

Posted by: SpacePirate | September 6, 2007 10:55 PM | Report abuse

I think it's great that someone is finally thinking of a plan that might work for a change.

Posted by: deak82 | September 6, 2007 10:33 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad that someone is turning thoughts into action about the terrorism issues. I also think it's good that he's honest about it and not trying to gloss things over.
It seems like a well-devised plan, and I hope others take it seriously.

Posted by: blufire_elemental | September 6, 2007 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Interesting article but I'm not understanding the "Edwards is expected to say" after 'quotes'. Are these exerpts from his other speeches/lectures that reporters think he'll repeat in his next one?

I'm an AP Gov student so I may come off as oblivious...

thanks!

Posted by: zephyrhillsz | September 6, 2007 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Edwards seems to saying that the terrorism problem is a criminal, rather than a military, problem. I think that it is both. If Mr. Edwards does call for an international body to deal with the Iraq problem, he would seem to be agreeing with Dr. Albright's position as stated in this morning's Op Ed piece, and I believe that the idea has value. The person who posts as "indefenseofjohnedwards" is being a wee bit too defensive. Please do not be so critical -- you are not exactly dong your candidate any favors.

Posted by: marmac5 | September 6, 2007 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Edwards has always been a man who likes to get each side of the story and come up with a solution. Hopefully Edward's and Biden can gain some more support from the people before Hillary, Obama, Guliani and the others are pushed forward by the media. Edwards would've made a great V.P. with the kind of intellect he obviously has; too bad history had other plans...
BTW,It looks like there has to be a dissenting ignorant comment from at least one person in a comment entry. too bad we can't filter them out :'(
P.S. TURN OFF THE NEWS AND READ A BOOK OR TWO, you'll learn more than what the masses want you to learn.

Posted by: willsie31 | September 6, 2007 9:43 PM | Report abuse

It's truly amazing that anyone would take "Hairdo Harry" seriously on any subject much less this one!

Posted by: filoporquequilo | September 6, 2007 9:11 PM | Report abuse

An awful lot of thought about a BUMPER STICKER don't ya think?
What a phony. What a "who was that guy who ran for president in 08 with the expensive haircuts????".

Posted by: CM1515 | September 6, 2007 9:09 PM | Report abuse

This is very interesting. i hope that this is not all just talk and that if he is elected he will put this plan into action.
Lauren Josephs

Posted by: kissthecook_lgj | September 6, 2007 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Hey! I thought Edwards said terrorism was only a bumper sticker?

Posted by: VastRight | September 6, 2007 08:52 PM

That's what happens when you take someone else's word for something, instead of reading a speech yourself.

YOU GET NO CONTEXT.

Posted by: OEST | September 6, 2007 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Will John Edwards also say that he was trying to draw people's attention to terrorism prior to 9/11, whereas Giuliani was ignoring the advice of experts and putting the NY City Terrorism Command Center inside of the World Trade Center, along with not getting the NYC Firefighters new radios?

Well, at least say that this is not some new issue for him. He was doing something about it before 9/11, while people like Bush weren't taking the threat seriously.

Posted by: OEST | September 6, 2007 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Hey! I thought Edwards said terrorism was only a bumper sticker?

Posted by: VastRight | September 6, 2007 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Very interesting. I hope the Post will cover the speech so we can learn more details.

Posted by: pmorlan1 | September 6, 2007 08:16 PM

The speech will be available on John Edwards' website, just like every other speech that he has done.

Why don't you go there and read it for yourself instead of waiting for someone to tell you what you should think about it.

Posted by: OEST | September 6, 2007 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Edwards's CITO proposal seems well thought out. I hope that something comes of it.

Posted by: cwh2 | September 6, 2007 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Finally, someone is thinking about terror instead of just talking about it. There isn't any question that we're no closer to ending terror than we were six years ago and it's about time we started putting together a comprehensive and thoughtful plan to end it.

Posted by: gacker | September 6, 2007 8:36 PM | Report abuse

At last, an idea! I hope to hear more about it.

Posted by: DocHolliday1906 | September 6, 2007 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Very interesting. I hope the Post will cover the speech so we can learn more details.

Posted by: pmorlan1 | September 6, 2007 8:16 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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