April 23, 2006 — -- In an exclusive interview, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., told ABC News' "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" that the latest purported recording from Osama bin Laden "underscores the failure of [the Bush] administration to capture" the terror leader.
"Osama Bin Laden is loose today because we allowed him to escape at Tora Bora," said Kerry, echoing a statement often heard during his failed 2004 presidential bid.
Kerry also cited the tape in echoing calls from several retired generals for change at the top of the Defense Department, saying, "This is another reason Donald Rumsfeld should resign."
On Iraq, the Massachusetts Democrat insisted his call for a May 15 withdrawal of U.S. troops is necessary because, "they only respond to pressure."
Kerry slammed the administration's Iraq policy, arguing, "There's no excuse … for American troops to be driving by IEDs and getting blown up." Kerry continued, "Where is the standing down? It isn't taking place."
Kerry, a decorated Vietnam veteran who spoke out against the war in which he fought 35 years ago this month, defended the six retired generals who have called for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, telling chief Washington anchor George Stephanopoulos, "Those generals have the right, and I believe the obligation, to stand up and tell the truth."
Kerry said he disagreed with a written statement by former President Ford that was supportive of Rumsfeld.
Regarding CIA analyst Mary McCarthy's dismissal over alleged leaking of classified information, Kerry said, "I'm glad she told the truth … but she's going to have to suffer the consequences of breaking the law."
McCarthy, who donated to Kerry's presidential bid, is accused of leaking information that led to the uncovering of the Abu Ghraib scandal. Kerry suggested that the case showed the hypocrisy of Washington.
"You have somebody being fired from the CIA for telling the truth," Kerry said. And yet, he continued, no one from the administration resigned over the controversy.
Kerry also responded to criticism by frequent "This Week" roundtable contributor Joe Klein in the new political analysis "Politics Lost" that Kerry failed to focus on Abu Ghraib during his presidential campaign.
"I called for the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld over Abu Ghraib," Kerry said, highlighting a number of speeches in which the subject was addressed. However, Kerry conceded he did not mention it in major speeches such as his nomination acceptance.
Stephanopoulos pressed Kerry on his defense of New Hampshire as the nation's first primary state, although Kerry insisted, "Nothing matters in 2008 if we can't improve on the ground."
When asked whether or not a potential run by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., would affect whether or not he would take another shot at the White House, Kerry replied, "My decision is not affected by any other candidate's decision to run."