- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 19, 2002

President Bush will submit a resolution to Congress today calling for the authorization of "all appropriate means," including a full-scale military assault, to deal with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Pressing Congress to make a firm statement before the U.N. Security Council decides which action it will authorize against Iraq, Mr. Bush said the world should take its cue from the United States, not the other way around.
"One of the jobs the United States has is to remind people about not only the threat, but the fact that his defiance has weakened the United Nations," Mr. Bush said after meeting at the White House with congressional leaders yesterday.
A commitment by Congress to vote on Iraq before the October recess is "an important signal for the world to see that this country is united in our resolve to deal with threats that we face."
Mr. Bush last week called on the United Nations to enforce 16 past resolutions on Iraq or risk becoming "irrelevant." The international body has taken no action.
Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, said yesterday that he expects Congress to receive a draft resolution from the White House today and that lawmakers will settle on the wording by the middle of next week.
He said the resolution probably would focus on ending Saddam's weapons programs rather than call for his ouster, noting that U.S. policy already seeks regime change in Iraq.
"I think the focus now is going to be on the imminent threat of his continued effort to develop weapons of mass destruction," Mr. Lott said. "We worry about terrorists of one group or type or another getting access to what they may have. I'm not sure how we would address the regime change. I doubt if [the resolution] would do that."
As for the wording of the resolution, three senior White House officials familiar with the administration's draft, told the Associated Press that it would include an explicit authorization of military force.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said focusing on the "imminent threat" of Saddam's weapons program does not signal a change in the administration's policy. Asked whether replacing the dictator was still the goal, Mr. Fleischer said, "Of course it is."
"This was decided on in 1998 in one of the most bipartisan acts that the Congress took, and that was signed by President Clinton. To suggest in any way that because Saddam Hussein has not shown a willingness to abide by the very terms that he agreed to with the United Nations should mean that the United States should change its policy of regime change makes no sense," he said.
At a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee yesterday, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld echoed the president's call for swift congressional action.
"It is important that Congress send that message as soon as possible before the U.N. Security Council votes," Mr. Rumsfeld said. "Do you believe it is our responsibility to wait for a nuclear, chemical or biological September 11? Or is it the responsibility of free people to do something now to take steps to deal with the threat before we are attacked?"
"The last thing we want is a smoking gun. A gun smokes after it has been fired. The goal must be to stop Saddam Hussein before he fires a weapon of mass destruction against our people," he said.
House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, Missouri Democrat, said after meeting Mr. Bush yesterday that lawmakers would act soon on a resolution.
"Our concern is that weapons of mass destruction wind up in the hands of terrorists," Mr. Gephardt said. "Our highest responsibility is to make sure a weapon of mass destruction is not used here or anywhere."
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said some U.N. members have been sidetracked by Saddam's "ploy" to readmit weapons inspectors into Iraq, adding that "we should not be fooled by it."
"We need to insist on open inspections," said the South Dakota Democrat, describing a resolution. "We need to insist on the destruction of weapons of mass destruction."
Mr. Rumsfeld's testimony was interrupted briefly by two female protesters who chanted "inspections, not war."
"Why are you obstructing the inspections?" one of them called out to Mr. Rumsfeld. "Is this really about oil? How many civilians will be killed? How many of our servicemen will be killed?"
After police escorted the protesters out, Mr. Rumsfeld told the committee, "What a wonderful thing free speech is."
"Of course, people like that are not able to go into Iraq and make demonstrations like that because they don't have free speech," he said. "And, of course, the country that threw the inspectors out was not the United States, it was not the United Nations, it was Iraq that threw the inspectors out."
Mr. Bush made clear yesterday that he thinks Saddam's recent inspections offer is simply a "ploy" to win public support.
"It's his latest ploy, his latest attempt not to be held accountable for defying the United Nations," Mr. Bush said. "He's not going to fool anybody and I'm convinced that the world understands the ploy."
Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, said information presented at a classified briefing yesterday showed that Iraq could develop nuclear weapons "in the very near future."
"It's important that we don't pass on to the next generation the problem of Saddam Hussein having nuclear weapons," he told reporters afterward.
Mr. Rumsfeld yesterday also answered congressional critics who ask what has changed within Iraq which kicked out U.N. inspectors in 1998 to warrant such urgency.
"What has changed is our experience on September 11th," he said. "What has changed is our appreciation of our vulnerability and the risks the United States faces from terrorist networks and terrorist states armed with weapons of mass destruction. What has not changed is Saddam Hussein's drive to acquire these weapons."
The defense secretary also said the U.S. military would have to call up more National Guard and Reserve forces if Mr. Bush decides to invade Iraq. But Mr. Rumsfeld added that there is "not a chance" that a military draft would be needed to augment U.S. forces.

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