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Mondale raps Cheney, calls advice farcical

Says vice president bullied agencies

ATHENS, Ga. -- Vice President Dick Cheney has bullied federal agencies and given absurd advice about the nation's risk and Iraq, Walter Mondale said yesterday, adding that such conduct would not have been tolerated when Mondale was vice president.

"I think that Cheney has stepped way over the line," Mondale said at the opening of a three-day conference about Jimmy Carter at the University of Georgia.

Mondale, who served in the Carter administration, said Cheney and his assistants pressured federal agencies as they prepared information for President Bush.

"I think Cheney's been at the center of cooking up farcical estimates of national risks, weapons of mass destruction, and the 9/11 connection to Iraq," he said.

That does not serve the president, because he needs facts, Mondale said.

"If I had done as vice president what this vice president has done, Carter would have thrown me out of there," Mondale said. "I don't think he could have tolerated a vice president over there pressuring and pushing other agencies, ordering up different reports than they wanted to send us. I don't think he would have stood for it."

Lea Anne McBride, a spokeswoman for Cheney, had this response to Mondale's comments: "Twice elected to serve with President Bush, the vice president is committed to protecting Americans from those who wish to do us harm."

She also cited a September television interview in which Cheney said he would take issue with "any suggestion we've gone beyond where we should have."

Academics credit Carter with expanding the role of the vice presidency during his administration.

As vice president, Mondale served as the president's senior adviser. He held an office in the West Wing of the White House, had private meetings with the president, and spoke on behalf of the president before influential groups.

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