- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 29, 2002

Sen. John W. Warner, the senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, wants Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to appear before the panel to lay out the military case and options for invading Iraq.
In a letter to committee Chairman Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat, Mr. Warner said there is "a 'gap' in the facts possessed by the executive branch and the facts possessed by the legislative branch" and that it's time to build a legislative record about what the military might be called upon to do.
"We do not expect, nor should the president give us detailed plans of all his operations, but I think it's time to bring into focus what are the likely scenarios, in general terms how do they affect the men and women of the armed forces and their families, what's the readiness situation?" Mr. Warner, Virginia Republican, said in a telephone interview.
Mr. Warner is the latest Republican to join other members on Capitol Hill who are calling for a broader congressional debate over U.S. policy toward Iraq. Earlier this month, House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Texas Republican, said the United States risked losing the support of other nations if it attacked Iraq "without proper provocation."
Still, Mr. Warner and other Republicans stress that they believe President Bush has the authority to act without further congressional approval. Democrats, however, have questioned the president's authority.
Mr. Bush believes he has the authority to order an attack on Iraq though the administration hasn't ruled out seeking a congressional resolution backing military action citing his grant of authority as commander in chief and the 1991 resolution supporting the Persian Gulf war.
But yesterday Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat and a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, said the administration's position is "wishful thinking."
He has been conducting his own survey of academics to sound out their views on the matter, and he said in a statement that the ones he has heard from so far are unanimous in their belief that new approval for action is necessary.
"There is an emerging consensus among leading constitutional scholars that the 1991 use of force resolution ceased to be effective once Iraq capitulated to U.S. and allied forces in April 1991," Mr. Byrd said.
Even though Bush officials say no decision has been made to attack Baghdad, the past few days have seen leading members of the administration put out signals that an assault is imminent. Vice President Richard B. Cheney addressed the issue on Monday, and Mr. Rumsfeld spoke on Tuesday. Both men made the case for pre-emptive action against Iraq based on Baghdad's connections to terrorists and on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's desire to obtain nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
"As one of those who worked to assemble the Gulf war coalition, I can tell you that our job then would have been infinitely more difficult in the face of a nuclear-armed Saddam Hussein," Mr. Cheney said.
"And many of those who now argue that we should act only if he gets a nuclear weapon would then turn around and say that we cannot because he has a nuclear weapon."
The Senate is in recess until after Labor Day, and Mr. Levin said he will wait until then before making a decision.
"Holding hearings on U.S. policy toward Iraq is something I have been considering," he said in a short statement. "After Congress returns to session, I will make a decision about whether to hold such hearings and, if so, which witnesses to call."
The House of Representatives is planning hearings of its own, and a White House spokesman with the president in Texas yesterday told reporters the administration welcomes and will participate in congressional hearings.
Mr. Warner views the Armed Services Committee hearings leading up to the 1991 congressional resolution approving the use of force against Iraq as a model for what could happen now. Those hearings led to a 52-47 vote in the Senate to support the Gulf war. The House voted 250-183 in favor of military action.
Those hearings allowed Congress to accept part of the responsibility for military action in 1991, and Mr. Warner said accepting congressional accountability should be an important part of the current debate.
He said hearings should begin with Mr. Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
In 1990, Mr. Cheney, who was then defense secretary, and Colin L. Powell, who was then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, were the first to testify before the Senate committee.
But Mr. Warner also said hearings should include part of the chorus of officials from previous administrations, including many Republicans, who are arguing against a pre-emptive attack.

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