- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 10, 2002

Several key Democratic and Republican senators yesterday announced they would support a White House-backed resolution authorizing President Bush to use force against Iraq.
In another victory for the White House, the Senate also overwhelmingly rejected a Democratic amendment on the Iraq resolution that the White House had opposed as complicating efforts to get U.N. approval on weapons inspections.
With the House set to pass the war resolution overwhelmingly today, the five senators included four Democrats and one Republican who had publicly voiced objections to authorizing the use of military force against Saddam Hussein.
"The risks of inaction are too high," said Sen. Chuck Hagel, Nebraska Republican. "The time has come to chart a new course in Iraq and the Middle East."
The White House picked up its top-ranking Senate Democrat so far when Assistant Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada announced his support.
Democratic Sens. Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, John Kerry of Massachusetts and Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware also said yesterday that they would vote for Mr. Bush's resolution.
Mr. Kerry, a Vietnam War veteran and potential 2004 presidential contender, said Iraq's weapons of mass destruction posed "a real and grave threat" to the United States.
Mr. Biden, who as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee had favored a more restrictive resolution, indicated he, too, would support Mr. Bush, saying it would "give the president the kind of momentum he needs" to prevail in the U.N. Security Council.
Mr. Dodd also said the need for national unity motivated his stance.
"Ultimately, my main reason for supporting the resolution is that I believe the chances of avoiding war with Iraq are enhanced if this country is united as a nation," Mr. Dodd said.
In another sign of White House strength on the issue, the Senate yesterday overwhelmingly rejected a Democratic amendment that the White House had opposed as complicating efforts to get U.N. approval on weapons inspections.
Senators voted 88-10 to back President Bush and reject a Democratic amendment that would have expanded the president's authority to wage war against five terrorist groups, including Hamas and Hezbollah.
Opponents of the amendment said Mr. Bush already has such authority as commander in chief. And they said the proposal by Sen. Bob Graham, Florida Democrat, would have complicated the administration's effort to get tough action from the United Nations on dismantling Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.
Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, said the proposal "muddies the strong message the United States must send" to the United Nations.
Mr. Graham, chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, said the administration's focus on Iraq is shortsighted.
"We are not dealing with one evil; we are dealing with a veritable army of evils," he said.
The Senate is expected to approve the resolution tomorrow or Saturday after overcoming procedural hurdles from Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat.
Meanwhile, the White House backed the idea of putting Saddam on trial as a war criminal.
Asked what the United States would do with Saddam if U.S. forces captured him, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said: "If you remember what was going on with Serbia, it would be the international community" that would set up "a special tribunal."
People accused of human rights violations in the former Yugoslavia have been indicted by a special International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. Several members of Congress have suggested recently that Saddam should be tried for war crimes.
Among the senators who have come out against the White House resolution was Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat and chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Mr. Leahy said the measure bears similarities to the Tonkin Gulf resolution of 1964 during the Vietnam War.
Mr. Leahy said he was not "comparing a possible war in Iraq to the Vietnam War."
"But the key words in the resolution we are considering today are remarkably similar to that infamous resolution of 38 years ago, which so many senators came to regret," Mr. Leahy said. "Let us not make that mistake again."


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