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Lieberman Questions Obama’s Judgment On Iran and Israel

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), a McCain supporter, challenged Sen. Barack Obama’s judgment and experience on Israel and national security issues, following the Illinois senator’s speech this morning at the influential pro-Israel lobbying group American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, conference in Washington. Lieberman said there was "a disconnect between some of the things [Obama] said today" and some of his past statements.

"To be specific, I was troubled earlier in the campaign season when Sen. Obama compared Iran and other rogue and terrorist states to the Soviet Union, and minimized the threat represented by Iran. I think that’s wrong. Today he said he thought Iran represented a grave threat. I think the statement he made today was right."

Lieberman brought up Obama’s opposition to the Kyl-Lieberman amendment that labeled the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, pointing out it was supported by 29 Democratic senators. The amendment passed 76-22.

"That measure was supported by three-fourths of the Senate, including Sens. Reid, Schumer, Durbin and Clinton. Sen. Obama opposed it, saying it was saber-rattling referring to the threat of military force. If you look at the Kyl-Lieberman amendment as it was passed, it has none of that in it regarding military action. I still hope he will say that vote was a mistake and he will support that resolution."

Lieberman also challenged Obama’s assertions that U.S. policies have had a negative impact on Israel’s security.

"Sen. Obama today argued American foreign policy in recent years has essentially strengthened Iran. At one point he almost seemed to suggest it helped to elect (Iranian President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad and has made Israel less safe. I just disagree with that. Iran(ians) elected Ahmadinejad for their own reasons.If Israel is in danger today, it’s not because of American foreign policy, which has been strongly supportive of Israel in every way. It’s not because of what we’ve done in Iraq, it’s because Iran is a fanatical terrorist expansionist state. Iran has a leader — and leadershipsthat constantly threatens to extinguish the state of Israel."

Lieberman, who was close to Obama when the Illinois senator first came to Washington, opened by congratulating him on apparently securing the Democratic nomination. While they remain friendly, Obama, like many Democrats, supported Lieberman’s 2006 Democratic challenger Ned Lamont, which Lieberman certainly hasn’t forgotten. It could be one reason for Lieberman’s decision to campaign with the GOP candidate. Obviously, with McCain stepping up his rhetoric against the regime in Iran, the issue could figure prominently in the coming campaign.

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