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Inside Politics

State Department awaits criticism on Bush policy

Former officials set to express concerns U.S. 'on wrong track'

George W. Bush
Middle East

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The State Department said it will be receptive to a critical statement from a group of former high-level diplomatic and military officials who are expected to condemn the Bush administration's foreign policy and to assert that it has harmed national security.

Calling themselves Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change, the signers include former senior military commanders and 20 former U.S. ambassadors, many of whom were appointed or served in Republican administrations.

The statement, to be released Wednesday, was prompted by concerns "we are on the wrong track, and we need a fundamental change," according to one of the signers, Phyllis Oakley, a deputy State Department spokeswoman during President Reagan's second term and an assistant secretary of state under President Clinton.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Monday that he had not seen the document yet and couldn't comment on its contents.

"We'll look at it when it comes out and see if there are any ideas we want to deal with at that point," Boucher said.

Asked if it was unusual for such open criticism from high-ranking former officials, Boucher said, "They're free to say what they want when they're no longer in government. So we expect people to have views and express their views."

Oakley said Sunday that the statement reflects "a growing concern, deeply held, about the future of the country's national security."

The statement clearly calls for defeat of the Bush administration, she said, although it does not endorse any candidate.

"We are on the wrong track, and we need a fundamental change," she said.

Among the signers were William Harrop, who was appointed ambassador to Israel by former President Bush in 1991, and retired Adm. William Crowe Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1985 to 1989.

Oakley said the group's members are senior, former government officials who "have spent their lives working to erect the stature and posture of the U.S. as a leader in the world ... and we simply see that edifice crumbling."

Oakley also said that releasing the statement was not an easy decision.

"We're all career [public] servants who have never taken a political stand," she said, " ... [but] what we want to get on record is our profound concern about the future security of the U.S."

CNN's Paul Courson and Lesa Jansen contributed to this report.

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