- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 19, 2003

WASHINGTON, March 19 (UPI) — In a letter to lawmakers Wednesday, President George W. Bush formally activated the authority to pursue military action against Iraq granted by Congress last October.

Bush told Congress that the diplomatic efforts to disarm Saddam Hussein's regime had failed and military action was likely to commence shortly.

On Oct. 10, 2002, Congress approved a resolution granting Bush authority to pursue the removal of Saddam from Iraq's leadership and disarm him of any weapons of mass destruction. Although the resolution did not require Bush to seek further approval before starting military action, the resolution did require that the president notify lawmakers of impending hostilities.

In the letter, Bush said that he had determined that "reliance by the United States on further diplomatic and other peaceful means alone will neither (A) adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq nor (B) likely lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq."

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters that both Congress and the American public should prepare themselves for the likelihood of war and U.S. casualties.

"On the brink of war with Iraq, Americans should be prepared for what we hope will be as precise and short a conflict as possible, but there are many unknowns. It could be a matter of some duration, we do not know," Fleischer said.

"Americans have to be prepared for loss of life. Americans have to be prepared for the importance of disarming Saddam Hussein to protect the peace," he added.

Although the October votes by the House, 296-133, and Senate, 77-23 vote, overwhelmingly supported giving the president the authority to pursue war, several lawmakers have criticized the administration's failure to resolve the matter diplomatically or, at least, to secure U.N. approval for action.

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