- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 29, 2003

WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 (UPI) — Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., was going ahead Wednesday with plans to introduce a new resolution on the Senate floor calling on President Bush to obtain a new resolution granting him authority to resort to military force if necessary to disarm Iraq of suspected weapons of mass destruction, an aide to the senator told United Press International.

Press spokesman Jim Manley said the resolution would be presented in the afternoon, but by noon Wednesday Kennedy was still working on the question of who would second the proposal.

However, the president is not required to seek such approval from Congress and with the GOP firmly in control of the Senate, such a proposal is unlikely to receive any floor time. Senate rules allow Kennedy to offer just about any amendment to any bill, but Democrats — who mostly voted to give Bush the authority to pursue war without U.N. Security Council approval last fall — seem reluctant to support Kennedy on the issue.

Kennedy spoke against the Oct. 11 congressional resolution that approved possible military action. That resolution was not needed legally by Bush but it did give him more weight when he later went before the United Nations and challenged the body to act over Iraq's apparent continued defiance of international disarmament mandates.

It had passed in the House 296-133, and in the Senate 77-23.

Manley said Kennedy was not attempting to undercut the president in dealing with Iraq, but believes the international situation had changed since October. The problem with North Korea and its threat to resume its nuclear weapons program was more pressing, Kennedy believed.

Bush Tuesday reiterated in his State of the Union address that Iraq posed a grave danger to U.S. national security and world peace because of its possession of chemical and biological weapons.

Iraq, he said, was not cooperating with U.N. weapons inspectors in line with Security Council resolutions and was instead engaging in a hide-and-seek game with them.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, Bush said, would go to the U.N. Security Council next week to present information and U.S. intelligence to back up Washington's claim.

The speech Tuesday, however, did not present any new evidence against Iraq. Instead, the president laid out previous conclusions.

"I don't think it was," Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., said Wednesday when asked if the president had made a strong case for putting American soldiers at risk. "He didn't present any new evidence."

Daschle said Bush still had not made a case why Iraq poses an imminent threat and "why it isn't important enough for us to work through the United Nations and the international community."

Daschle, who did vote for the earlier resolution, is the Senate minority leader.

"I think people are very concerned about giving the president the authority without more direct information, more direct evidence that the threat posed by Iraq is one that's direct and serious with the United States," he said in a television interview.

Bush believes U.N. weapons inspectors, in Iraq as a result of Bush's pushing of the United Nations, are there to verify Iraqi disarmament and not to find evidence of it possessing proscribed weapons and materials.

Iraq, he says, is already in violation of its latest promise to cooperate fully with the United Nations.

Although Bush says he has made no decision on military action yet, he repeatedly has stated that the United States would act with or without U.N. sanction to force Iraqi disarmament if it does not do so voluntarily.

More than 130,000 U.S. troops are either in the Gulf or on their way as a military showdown appears increasingly inevitable.

"The dictator of Iraq is not disarming," Bush said Tuesday night. "To the contrary, he is deceiving.

"The only possible explanation, the only possible use he could have for those weapons, is to dominate, intimidate or attack."

The United States, he said, would not be blackmailed into inaction.

"If war is forced upon us, we will fight in a just cause and by just means — sparing, in every way we can, the innocent. And if war is forced upon us, we will fight with the full force and might of the United States military — and we will prevail," he said.

Military action against Iraq is opposed by France and Germany, major U.S. allies who want inspections to continue indefinitely.

Democrats and others believe Bush's stance on Iraq is causing fissures in U.S. relations with allies, and sends a message of unilateralism.

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