- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 5, 2003

WASHINGTON, Feb. 5 (UPI) — Several members of Congress said Wednesday that Secretary of State Colin Powell made a convincing case at the United Nations that Iraq has failed to comply with U.N. resolutions, although some remain unconvinced that war should be pursued immediately.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said that the case presented earlier in the day was convincing and called upon the United Nations to act immediately to deal with the threat posed by the regime of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

"It is my hope that following Secretary Powell's presentation the United Nations will act with resolve, in days not months, to purge this threat," he said. "The United States is a patient nation, but there's a limit to that patience and time is running out for this rogue leader."

Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota said the case made by Powell was "powerful, methodical and compelling" enough to "put the onus on Saddam Hussein."

Daschle said he supported continuing the weapons inspections, but not "for too much longer."

One senior Democratic senator told United Press International that the case made by Powell exceeded her expectations and provided the most information she had seen yet.

"He made a comprehensive case," California's Diane Feinstein said. "It was the most comprehensive case I have heard on the biological, chemical and nuclear weapons program yet, either classified or unclassified, from the administration."

Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., said that Powell confirmed what he already knew: that Iraq is pursuing weapons programs. But he said this does not answer the most important question at hand, and he disagreed with Feinstein's assessment.

"The question is how to best address this threat," he said. "The threshold for starting a war through unilateral military action should be very high. It should require the presence of an immediate threat, or a solid connection to al Qaida.

"Secretary Powell asserted that there is such a solid connection today. But classified briefings here in the Senate have cast real doubts on this assertion. I am troubled by this inconsistency."

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said that the evidence is enough to spur the United Nations into greater action, but she stopped short of calling for unilateral war.

"Now it is time for our allies to join the United States in exerting maximum pressure on Saddam to comply immediately and fully with U.N. inspectors," she said.

Two vocal critics of unilateral military action found evidence of Iraq malfeasance in the presentation but remain unconvinced that the United States should go to war without the U.N. Security Council's backing — or, barring that, a formal declaration from Congress.

"Especially lacking that international support, if the Security Council cannot agree on a course of action for Iraq, the president ought to seek a formal declaration of war from Congress before any attack," said Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va.

"The foreign policy implications of (unilateral actions) would be profound and disastrous," said Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.

Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., said that international support for action was critical and most effective in handling the situation, but he stopped short of demanding it before action.

"Solidarity in the U.N. Security Council is the best means to avoid war. Let me repeat that: Only when Saddam realizes there is a strong international consensus will he stop trying to drive a wedge between the United States and our allies. That consensus is our best, and probably last, chance to concentrate his mind about his choice of war or peace," he said.

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