US Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Tuesday accused critics of the administration's Iraq and counterterrorism policies of trying to appease ‘a new type of fascism.’

In unusually explicit terms, Mr Rumsfeld portrayed the Bush administration's critics as suffering from ‘moral or intellectual confusion’ about what threatens the nation's security and accused them of lacking the courage to fight back.

Speaking to veterans at the American Legion's national convention, he recited what he called the lessons of history, including the failed efforts to appease the Adolf Hitler regime in the 1930s.

Mr Rumsfeld spoke to the American Legion as part of a coordinated White House strategy, in advance of the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, aiming to take the offensive against administration critics at a time of doubt about the future of Iraq and growing calls to withdraw U.S. troops.

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