CBSN

Ex-Bush Aide: Terror War A Bust

Assistant Secretary of State Rand Beers
AP
A top counterterrorism aide to President Bush has signed on as national security adviser for Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who is mounting a campaign to defeat Mr. Bush, the Washington Post reports.

Rand Beers quit his job as special assistant to the president for combating terrorism eight weeks ago. On Monday, in a provocative interview with the Post, the veteran Washington bureaucrat – who served on the National Security Council under four presidents – lashed out at the administration's handling of the war on terrorism and homeland security.

Beers charged the administration "wasn't matching its deeds to its words in the war on terrorism. They're making us less secure, not more secure. … The longer I sat and watched, the more concerned I became, until I got up and walked out."

He said the administration was "underestimating the enemy" and had failed to address the root causes of terrorism. "The difficult, long-term issues both at home and abroad have been avoided, neglected or shortchanged and generally underfunded," Beers told the newspaper.

Beers criticized the administration's focus on Iraq, which he said came at the expense of domestic security, damaged America's international alliances and could help breed a new generation of terrorists.

"I continue to be puzzled by it," said Beers, who did not oppose the war but felt the U.S. should have built a broader coalition. "Why was it such a policy priority?" He said the evidence that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction – the official rationale for war – "was pretty qualified, if you listened carefully."

He said many of his colleagues considered Iraq an "ill-conceived and poorly executed strategy."

Asked to comment on Beers, Sean McCormack, an NSC spokesman, said, "At the time he submitted his resignation, he said he had decided to leave government. We thanked him for his three decades of government service." He declined to comment further.

While he has worked for three Republican presidents, Beers is a registered Democrat. He says he joined the Kerry campaign because he decided the Massachusetts senator offered the greatest expertise in foreign affairs and security issues of the presidential candidates.

He says he "never felt so strongly about something in my life" as he did that the Bush administration's policies need to be changed.

On other issues, Beers told the Post the U.S. had abandoned the war in Afghanistan without destroying al Qaeda, only dispersing terrorists around the country. "Terrorists move around the country with ease. We don't even know what's going on. Osama bin Laden could be almost anywhere in Afghanistan," he said.

On the domestic front, Beers charged homeland security was underfunded and suffering from "policy constipation. Nothing gets done," Beers said. He said the administration has taken little action to improve cybersecurity, port security or immigration management.