Spokesman Ari Fleischer said the United States and Germany have long had a strong relationship, "but this statement by the justice minister is outrageous and is inexplicable."
The regional Schwaebisches Tagblatt newspaper quoted German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's justice minister, Herta Daeubler-Gmelin, as saying "Bush wants to divert attention from his domestic problems. It's a classic tactic. It's one that Hitler used."
The Bush administration has been none too pleased that criticizing the United States over Iraq has been a key campaign plank for Schroeder in his re-election battle but has refrained from publicly commenting on the issue.