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Inside Politics

Gore calls for resignations in Bush administration

Former veep blasts 'utter incompetence'

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Al Gore accuses Bush of "utter incompetence."

CNN's Wolf Blitzer reports on Al Gore's speech.

CNN's Bill Schneider on George Bush under pressure.

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Former Vice President Al Gore on Wednesday called for the immediate resignations of several Bush administration figures, blaming them for "the catastrophe that we are facing in Iraq."

In the speech at New York University, Gore singled out Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.

He also included his former Clinton administration colleague, CIA Director George Tenet, even though he called Tenet "a personal friend" and "a good and decent and honorable man." But he said the U.S. intelligence community needs new leadership as well.

In a searing indictment, Gore said President Bush's "arrogance, willfulness and bungling" in Iraq have put Americans at risk around the world, and urged voters to oust him in November.

"The unpleasant truth is that President Bush's utter incompetence has made the world a far more dangerous place and dramatically increased the threat of terrorist attacks against the United States," said Gore, Bush's Democratic rival in the 2000 election.

"He planted the seeds of war. He harvested a whirlwind," Gore added. "And now the corrupt tree of a war waged on false premises has brought us the evil fruit of Americans torturing and sexually humiliating prisoners who are helpless in their care."

Gore said soldiers who abused prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal were acting on policies "designed and insisted upon by the Bush White House," including attempts to evade the Geneva Conventions' rules on the treatment of prisoners. The scandal, he said, has dragged America's reputation "through the mud of Saddam Hussein's torture prison."

Gore speech was sponsored by the Political Action Committee, which has said it hopes to raise $50 million to beat Bush in November. Gore urged his audience to vote for Sen. John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee.

GOP reaction

The Republican National Committee shot back with a statement saying that Gore's association with the group "cast serious doubt on his credibility."

The GOP noted that two ads -- out of more than 1,000 -- submitted to MoveOn's anti-Bush advertising contest last year compared the president to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. At least one of those ads was temporarily posted on the Web site, but the group took it down and disassociated itself from the ad.

The GOP statement also noted that the group's executive director called for a non-military response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

And in a second written statement, RNC Communications Director Jim Dyke highlighted terrorist attacks, including the first bombing of the World Trade Center, that occurred during the Clinton administration.

"Al Gore's attacks on the president today demonstrate that he either does not understand the threat of global terror, or he has amnesia," Dyke said.

Gore's broadside marked the second time in two weeks that a leading Democratic figure has described Bush as incompetent. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, drew sharp criticism from Bush's fellow Republicans when she offered a similar characterization last week.

Gore said faulty intelligence about Iraq's suspected weapons program, the decision to commit fewer than 150,000 U.S. troops to occupy the country after the invasion and the trust placed in Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmed Chalabi back up his language. So does "a growing library" of books by former government officials who have worked with the Bush administration, he said.

In the process, he said Bush "has built a durable reputation as the most dishonest president since Richard Nixon."

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