- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 20, 2003

President Bush yesterday asserted his legal and constitutional authority to wage war against Iraq, laying out his rationale that diplomacy had failed and the United Nations had no intention of enforcing its edicts ordering Saddam Hussein to disarm.
"The president of the United States has the authority indeed, given the dangers involved, the duty to use force against Iraq to protect the security of the American people and to compel compliance with United Nations resolutions," according to a seven-page report the White House sent to Congress, accompanied by a brief letter from Mr. Bush.
In that three-paragraph letter, required by law, Mr. Bush said he is "acting pursuant to the Constitution" and the legal requirements of a congressional resolution overwhelmingly approved in October 2002 that authorized the president to use force to strip Iraq of any weapons of mass destruction.
"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," Mr. Bush said in the letter to leaders of the House and Senate.
The report also stated that the imminent occupation of Iraq could turn up leads for determining terrorist threats in the United States.
"United States government personnel operating in Iraq may discover information through Iraqi government documents and interviews with detained Iraqi officials that would identify individuals currently in the United States and abroad who are linked to terrorist organizations," the report said.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the president's authority to wage war has been vetted by lawyers, adding the president is confident of their findings.
"He believes, number one, based on the reviews conducted by the attorneys, that there already exists a legal basis both in international law, as well as in domestic law, for the use of force to disarm Saddam Hussein. And that is also found in Security Council Resolutions 678 and 687, as well as 1441," he said.
"The president also believes that there is a gathering threat from Iraq, that with the failure by Saddam Hussein to disarm of his weapons of mass destruction presents a threat to the security of the United States. And therefore, he has come to the conclusion that after exhausting the diplomacy, that military force must be used if Saddam Hussein does not get out of the country," Mr. Fleischer said.
In his letter to Congress, Mr. Bush said he had the authority to "take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001."
The law requiring the president to notify Congress about impending action states: "The president is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to (1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and (2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq."
It also requires the president to provide supporting documentation for such action.
In his seven-page report, Mr. Bush lays out the continuing noncompliance of Iraq, dating to 1991, when Saddam agreed to terms of a cease-fire agreement that forbade him from having weapons of mass destruction.
"The lesson learned after 12 years of Iraqi defiance is that the appearance of progress on process is meaningless what is necessary is immediate, active and unconditional cooperation in the complete disarmament of Iraq's prohibited weapons," the report said.

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