John Kerry Bashes Bush Wiretaps, Talks of 2008

ByABC News
January 22, 2006, 10:00 AM

Jan. 22, 2006 — -- Sen. John F. Kerry is calling President Bush's warrantless wiretaps "a clear violation of the law."

Appearing on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," Kerry, D-Mass., added that the administration has made no effort to consult Congress about any possible alteration to the law that he says restricts the wiretaps -- the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Although Kerry did not go as far as to agree with former Vice President Al Gore's belief that the wiretaps may constitute an "impeachable offense," Kerry called for a special counsel and independent investigation.

In an exclusive Sunday morning interview, Kerry also announced he will not vote in favor of Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr.

Though he missed most of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings during an overseas tour of India, Pakistan, Iraq and Kuwait, Kerry said Alito would take the country "backwards."

Kerry did not dismiss outside criticism that his Democratic colleagues may have focused on relatively inconsequential issues during the hearings, saying, "That is certainly the criticism I have heard."

The 2004 presidential contender repeated his belief that the White House failed to commit the proper resources to capture Osama bin Laden at Tora Bora in Afghanistan, and chastised Republican political strategist and Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove for continuing to make the war on terror a priority political issue.

Of the Bush administration's efforts in the war on terror, Kerry said, "Osama bin Laden is going to die of kidney failure before he's killed by Karl Rove and his crowd."

Hitting the Democratic theme that Republicans have created a "culture of corruption" in Washington, Kerry bristled at the suggestion that his presidential campaign accepted more than $100,000 in what Republicans have termed "[Jack] Abramoff-affiliated lobbying firms."

"I've never met Jack Abramoff," Kerry said. "I've never taken a dime from Jack Abramoff."

Abramoff, who has pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges, primarily is known as a Republican lobbyist but has ties to members of both parties.

"This is a Republican scandal," he added. "They run the House, they run the Senate, and they run the White House."

Kerry laid blame squarely on the shoulders of his former foe, President George W. Bush.

"The president sets the tone," he said.

When Stephanopoulos, ABC News' chief Washington correspondent and host of "This Week," pressed Kerry on his 2008 presidential prospects, he drew a laugh from the former candidate.

"That's a decision for the future," Kerry said.

After viewing several critical, but mostly anonymous quotes from Democratic consultants, Kerry countered, "You're looking at the expert at not listening to the chatter of Washington, D.C."

Without tipping his hat but continuing to defend the notion of a comeback candidacy, Kerry reminded viewers of the successful second-run Republican campaigns of Richard M. Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and, potentially, Sen. John McCain.

Kerry, who fell 100,000 votes short of the presidency in Ohio, turned to ABC News anchor Stephanopoulos and said, "I'm not going to be moved by the anonymous chatter of Washington."