- The Washington Times - Friday, September 14, 2001

A small but determined band of conservative lawmakers yesterday called for a declaration of war against international terrorism, saying other congressional action is timid.

"We're not interested in reading them their Miranda rights," Rep. Bob Barr, Georgia Republican, said of terrorists. "We want to take them out lock, stock and barrel, root and limb."

The House instead was expected to approve last night a resolution that would grant President Bush the authority to use military force against the terrorists who struck the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Arlington on Tuesday. It is not a formal declaration of war.

Mr. Bush wants Congress to grant him the additional authority to use force against future terrorist attacks. Mr. Barr's resolution would authorize the president to wage unlimited war against those who carry out "any related future attacks" on the United States and against anyone who harbors those terrorists.

"These are no longer normal times," Mr. Barr said. "In normal times, we do not see the deaths of thousands, if not tens of thousands, of innocent American citizens."

Eight other House members have signed the declaration of war: Republican Reps. Nathan Deal of Georgia, Steve Chabot of Ohio, Walter B. Jones Jr. of North Carolina, Bob Schaffer of Colorado, Pete Sessions of Texas, Mark Souder of Indiana and Tom Tancredo of Colorado, and Rep. Virgil H. Goode Jr., Virginia independent.

Some conservative House Republican leaders oppose the formal declaration of war, arguing that such action against an unspecified enemy goes against international law.

"I don't believe anybody wants to make that kind of declaration," said House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Texas Republican.

Sen. Bob Graham, Florida Democrat and chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, said, "It's one of the most serious responsibilities of Congress. Just to declare war against something as amorphous as international terrorism, I don't know if that's what James Madison meant when he put that provision in the Constitution."

But supporters of the war declaration said this week's terrorist attacks vaporized the old standards for war.

"This is a declaration of war against international terrorism," Mr. Deal said. "Are we so inflexible … that war has rules by which we must abide? If so, we will be as hampered in our efforts as were the British redcoats when they encountered what they considered to be 'ungentlemanly warfare' because our forefathers didn't simply line up with a uniform on and march into combat."

A survey Wednesday of 500 adults by StrategyOne, a public opinion research firm, showed that 81 percent favored declaring war against an international organization or terrorist group if they are found responsible for the attacks. Eight percent were opposed; 11 percent were unsure.

In the same poll, 92 percent said they support the United States taking military action. Seventy-eight percent supported a military response even if it means foreign civilian casualties.

And 67 percent of respondents said President Bush's national address after the attacks was "just right;" another 23 percent thought his comments "weren't tough enough."

The president does not need a formal declaration of war to use military force, but Mr. Barr and his colleagues said they want to show America's enemies that the United States is serious.

"There is no other appropriate response," Mr. Barr said.

Mr. Goode said of terrorists, "They would eradicate us. We need to eradicate them first."


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