- The Washington Times - Monday, October 7, 2002

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said yesterday he expects that the Democrat-controlled Senate will "overwhelmingly pass" a resolution this week or next authorizing a pre-emptive military strike against Iraq.
"I'm not sure we've found exactly the right language yet. But we're going to make the best effort we can to improve upon it and then pass it overwhelmingly," Mr. Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, said yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press."
He said he believes the Senate and the Republican-led House will adopt the same resolution within a "week to 10 days."
In the NBC interview, Mr. Daschle also said he would back the Iraq resolution if it made clear that military force would be used if Iraqi President Saddam Hussein refuses to eliminate weapons of mass destruction. If Saddam did refuse, Mr. Daschle said, the U.S. would have little alternative to war.
"I would hope that we could use force, if necessary, in ways that would contain the breadth and the scope of the war. But, certainly, if force is necessary, and we anticipate [Saddams] reluctance to comply, I don't know that we have any other choice," Mr. Daschle told "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert.
"I have said we strongly support the president's position for regime change in Iraq," he said. "We will do everything possible to ensure that that goal can be achieved, as long as it's tied to the weapons of mass destruction."
Until yesterday, Mr. Daschle was not being counted among the supporters of the resolution sought by President Bush. On Wednesday, the president cut out Mr. Daschle by reaching an agreement with the three other top congressional leaders on language for a resolution.
Mr. Daschle was kept out of bargaining talks that led to the agreement and was not part of the bipartisan group of lawmakers who surrounded Mr. Bush in a Rose Garden celebration.
In an interview Saturday on CNN's "Novak, Hunt & Shields," Mr. Daschle said he was not invited to join Mr. Bush and the other three lawmakers House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt and Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott to celebrate the agreement on an Iraq resolution.
"I don't think I was asked. I certainly didn't turn it down," Mr. Daschle said. "My view was that this was a recognition of support for a resolution that I haven't signed off on yet, so I'm not surprised I wasn't invited."
Mr. Daschle and Mr. Lott, Mississippi Republican, yesterday predicted the Senate will pass a resolution that meets Mr. Bush's needs with at least 70 percent support.
"The bottom line is we want to move on. We've got to support this effort. We've got to do it in an enthusiastic and bipartisan way. And I know that will be done," Mr. Daschle said.
In another development yesterday, Mohammed Aldouri, the Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations, suggested his country might be willing to accept a new U.N. resolution something it previously said it would not accept.
Mr. Aldouri said Iraq would permit weapons inspections "anytime, anywhere."
He also said in an interview on ABC's "This Week" that he did not think it would be a "huge problem" to allow inspectors into all presidential palaces, which were previously off-limits. His only reservation was to say he saw no need for armed guards to accompany weapons inspectors, which the United States is demanding.
But Mr. Gephardt, Missouri Democrat, said on ABC's "This Week" that armed guards may be necessary.
"This is not about inspections. It's about disarmament," said Mr. Gephardt, whose support for the congressional resolution authorizing force left Mr. Daschle isolated last week.
Mr. Daschle said he expects that any differences that might exist between what House members and senators might want in the Iraq resolution will be negotiated and reconciled "within a matter of hours," not days.
The resolution being pushed through the House would authorize the president "to use the armed forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to defend the national security against the continuing threat posed by Iraq and enforce the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq."
On "Fox News Sunday," Mr. Lott said he believes concerns about using force against Iraq for failing to "return Kuwaiti prisoners" from the Gulf war are the key reason that Sen. Richard G. Lugar, Indiana Republican, and Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat, have reservations about the congressional resolution in its current form. Mr. Daschle expressed a similar concern yesterday.
"By the way, it was put in there at the request of some Democratic leadership staff members," Mr. Lott said. "We didn't mean to infer that [force would be used] based on any one violation, but [rather] the accumulation of those particularly the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq."
Sen. Evan Bayh, Indiana Democrat, yesterday joined the Democratic support for Mr. Bush's tough stance on Iraq, saying he supports quick action to oust Saddam. He predicted the Iraqi dictator could have nuclear capability in six months to a year by trading on the black market.
Saddam "is a problem now, and he's likely to be a bigger problem in the future. One of the lessons we've learned [from September 11] is that we await events at our peril," Mr. Bayh said on Fox. "I think he presents an unacceptable probability of attacking America in the future, and we should act before it's too late."
Noting that he represents a district in Missouri, known as the Show Me State, Mr. Gephardt said, "We've all got to be from Missouri now. It's time to show us. We need a new Security Council resolution and if we get that resolution, then we've got to see if the Iraqis will actually do what they're supposed to do. They're supposed to disarm."
But given Saddam's record of noncompliance with U.N. resolutions, Mr. Gephardt said, "The faith any of us have in Iraq doing the right thing has been destroyed."
On Fox, Mr. Bayh said he shares the concerns of Sen. Zell Miller, Georgia Democrat, who often votes with Republicans, who wrote last week in the Wall Street Journal that the Democratic Party is being hurt by its "anti-war, peace-at-almost-any-price position."


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