Originally created 02/28/04

Kerry unveils defense policy



LOS ANGELES - Democrat John Kerry outlined his plan to combat terrorism Friday that relies on stronger intelligence-gathering, law enforcement and international alliances, while rebutting increasing criticism of his national security credentials from President Bush's campaign.

"I am convinced that we can prove to the American people that we know how to make them safer and more secure with a stronger, more comprehensive, more effective strategy for winning the war on terror than the Bush administration has ever envisioned," Mr. Kerry said in a speech at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Mr. Kerry said Mr. Bush has "no comprehensive strategy for victory in the war on terror."

Mr. Kerry also accused the president and "his armchair hawks" of weakening the U.S. military by failing to provide proper equipment. He lambasted Mr. Bush for "stonewalling" the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The Bush campaign has criticized Mr. Kerry in recent days for voting against some increases in defense spending and military weapons programs during his 19-year congressional career. Bush spokesman Steve Schmidt said Mr. Kerry made "a political speech filled with defeatist rhetoric and factual inaccuracies."

"John Kerry ignored the real progress being made on all fronts of the war on terror, and he ignored his own long voting record that would undermine America's ability to fight the war on terror," Mr. Schmidt said.

Mr. Kerry said he would protect chemical and nuclear facilities, increase security at ports and airports, restore federal funding for 100,000 police officers and add 100,000 firefighters.