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January 25, 2005 3:00 AM

Democrats pummel Rice, Bush administration over war in Iraq

Senate Democrats hammered away Tuesday at national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, using a daylong debate over her nomination to be secretary of state as a high-profile forum to bash the Bush administration for the Iraq war. Rice, 50, is expected to be easily confirmed Wednesday to replace Colin Powell, making her the first African-American female secretary of state. But what seemed last month like a smooth path to one of the most important Cabinet positions took a bumpy detour last week after two days of contentious confirmation hearings by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. For opponents of Iraq policy, Rice has become a symbol of what they say was the Bush administrations misleading case for launching war and the missteps after military victory.

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