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However, let's not forget that we have been acting multilaterally for over the past decade. Yet, today, Saddam has regained his dominance and his power, and the international community has been silent-the U.N. has not enforced its own resolutions. At what point does the security of the American people trump the desire for multilateral action.
Mr. Chairman, this resolution before us in the right action for Congress at the right time. The resolution has been carefully crafted with broad bipartisan support. We should give the President the authority to use the military to protect our national security. We should not wait until we are attacked. We should not wait to see if the President uses military force before we authorize him to do so.
We should be unified behind the strong leadership of the President. We should show Saddam that his days are numbered.
I urge my colleagues to vote for this resolution without amendments and give the President the authority he needs to protect our national security and end the terror of Saddam's regime.
I yield back the balance of my time.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE DARRELL E. ISSA, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Thank you Mr. Chairman. Today, as a Committee, a Congress, and a country, we face one of the most difficult dilemmas in the human experience. We are considering the question of war. The debate has returned us to the fundamental questions all leaders need to face: when is it time to fight? Is it ever time to fight? And if we fight, how should we do it? Mr. Chairman, these questions need to be addressed, and I appreciate the opportunity we have today to debate this issue.
There are strategic reasons to remove Saddam Hussein. Many critics of the President's position have asked if we have any "proof" of an "imminent threat" from Saddam. Mr. Chairman, we have over 20 years of proof. Since the early 1980's, Saddam has aggressively attempted to develop weapons of mass destruction, from nerve gas, to weaponized anthrax, to nuclear weapons. He has used some of these weapons many times already, against Iranian civilians and soldiers in his decade-long bloodbath with Iran, and against Kurdish villages in 1988. Many Kurds believe he attacked them out of retribution, but also as an experiment for a much larger attack against his true enemy, the United States.
The United Nations weapons inspectors did their best to track down Saddam's "special weapons," as he calls them, but they were unable to locate the most dangerous material. According to Gary Milhollin, the Director of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, inspectors could not find an estimated four tons of VX nerve gas; 600 tons of ingredients for VX; 3,000 tons of other chemical agents; and at least 550 artillery shells filled with mustard gas. Inspectors were also not able to dismantle Saddam's nuclear weapons, which were being aggressively developed throughout the seven years of inspections.
When these weapons are combined with Saddam's support for terrorism, the result will be disaster, for us and for our allies. We know that Saddam is at least harboring members of al-Qaeda in his country, if not supporting them altogether. He may not have participated in the planning for the September 11 attacks, but he has gone out of his way to prop up anti-American terrorist regimes that will, if left alone, strike us again.
Saddam may not be planning to use weapons of mass destruction against us next week, but there is no doubt that he intends to attack us and our allies until we either acquiesce to his aggression, or defeat him.
Mr. Chairman, there are also moral reasons for removing Saddam. Since he seized power in 1979 Saddam has built up one of the most brutal, merciless dictatorships in the history of the world. He has embarked on a massive ethnic cleansing campaign against the Kurds, who he thought were not loyal enough to him in his war against Iran. Aside from his chemical weapons attacks in 1988, Saddam has also attacked Kurds by forcing them into concentration camps and literally starving them to death. He has recently engaged in cultural genocide against the Kurds. Saddam's secret police have been forcing Iraqi Kurds to "correct" their identity documents by claiming that their birth records are false, and that they have always been Arab. If they refuse, they are forced off their property to make room for Arab families. Saddam is trying to erase the Kurdish past, to "cleanse" Iraq of this ethnic group he hates so bitterly. A prominent Iraqi expert, Peter Galbraith, describes Saddam's persecution of the Kurds as "a policy of genocide, a crime of intent, destroying a group whole or in part." Mr. Chairman, this regime is an Orwellian nightmare. It cannot and will not be tolerated in a civilized world.
The rap sheet on Saddam is long and detailed. If the international community applied a three strikes law to the world's tyrants, Saddam Hussein would have struck out long ago. The simple fact is, there are plenty of reasons to go to war with Iraq, and very few reasons not to. The going will be tough, particularly after Saddam is gone. But the difficulty of the situation does not necessitate a head-in-the-sand approach to this problem. Saddam will continue to defy any sort of inspections program as long as he is in power. We have a vested interest in seeing the Iraqi people live prosperous lives in a fair and just democracy. It is time to make that happen. I urge my colleagues to support this resolution today and I yield back the balance of my time.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE JEFF FLAKE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF ARIZONA
Saddam Hussein poses an immediate and grave threat to the security of American interests and to American lives. We know that Saddam has weapons of mass destruction in the form of biological and chemical weapons, and he has made clear his intent to develop nuclear weapons, if he has not already done so.
Saddam Hussein has used such weapons on people in his own country and on his neighbors. He has also defied the United Nations by expelling inspectors who had identified and destroyed some of his arsenal. Saddam's actions have demonstrated a determination to carry on with his program of weapons of mass destruction-and to what end? To carry out attacks against the United States and his other enemies. Our government has a responsibility and duty to take the essential steps to eliminate the threat posed by Saddam against the United States.
As previously mentioned, United Nations and the United States have tried diplomatically to eliminate this threat through weapons inspections. Rather than complying and cooperating with weapons inspectors, Saddam lied to them, limited their access, and eventually, forced them out of Iraq. Diplomacy has failed in the past, and President Bush has clearly outlined the failures in his recent address to the United Nations. The President has urged the United Nations to make another determined, decisive, and effective resolution. If the United Nations, however, cannot eliminate the threat to Americans, then the United States must.
This resolution will authorize President Bush to use military force, if he deems it necessary, to eliminate the threat posed by Saddam. As dangerous as it is to commit military troops to forcefully remove the threat posed by Saddam, the risk of doing nothing is far greater.
Many countries recognize that it is not merely in the United States' interest to remove the threat posed by Saddam, but it is in the world's interest. Saddam is a brutal dictator who has no respect for democracy or human rights. He creates instability and volatility to a region of the world that needs stability and certainty.
Other countries have expressed their concerns with United States action in Iraq. As much as I respect the advice and opinions of those countries, the job of the United States government is to act in the interests of the people of the United States.
It is very much in the interest of the American people to eliminate the threat posed to them by Saddam Hussein. This resolution is absolutely necessary to ensure the future of American democracy, American ideals, and the American way.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE JOSEPH CROWLEY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW YORK
The decision to declare war is one of the most important responsibilities our Constitution has charged to us as Members of Congress. As a parent, there is no responsibility that weighs on me more heavily than the decision to send our sons and daughters off to war.
The 650,000 citizens in the Bronx and Queens whom I represent have only just recently started rebuilding their lives from last September eleventh's attack on the World Trade Center, an attack which shattered families, devastated New York's economy, and caused profound changes in the communal and social lives of New York City's many communities.
I have thought long and hard about what this vote means not only for me as a Member of Congress and as a representative of my constituency, but also for what it means to me as a New Yorker.
September 11th changed New York as a City and the United States as a nation. The events of last September altered our nation's priorities. Protecting Social Security and Medicare and extending prescription drug coverage to our nation's senior
citizens and bringing jobs to local neighborhoods are still critical issues. But the need to protect our country, our families, and our children is growing in importance. If our country is not secure, then our future cannot be secure.
I have sought out as much information as possible on the threats and risks posed by launching a military confrontation with Iraq, as well as the risks of not acting. I have heard intelligence briefings on Saddam's military capabilities, including his chemical, biological, and nuclear capabilities. I have heard Administration officials and experts on Iraq make both sides of the argument in testimony to Congress. I have thought about the hundreds of thousands of young men and women who will be sent to fight this war, as well as their parents.
And I have thought of their families. During the Vietnam war, my own neighborhood of Woodside, Queens, and its surrounding ZIP code lost the highest number of people per capita in the nation. Countless constituents have called me and written to me to express their concerns about the impact that a war against Iraq will have on the nation, on the economy, and on their communities.
This is not the best time to consider military action against Iraq. We have worked carefully over the past year to compile a broad-based international coalition to help us in the fight against global terrorism, which is and should remain our top national priority. Yet by calling for the overthrow of the regime in Baghdad, we are weakening the international support and good will that we have worked so hard to achieve. I am concerned that military action against Iraq will distract us from the more important work that we and our allies are doing to root out and eliminate the threat posed by al-Qaeda and other terrorist entities.
That said, the Administration has decided that now is the time to address the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, and it has fallen to this Congress to decide whether to authorize the use of force against Iraq or not. After carefully considering the evidence, the allegations, and the arguments, I have concluded that Saddam is, in fact, continuing to develop chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons in violation of UN Security Council resolutions, and that he maintains the ability to deploy and use small numbers of chemical and biological weapons. As a result, Saddam does, in fact, pose a severe threat not only to the Middle East, to our allies in Israel, to the United States, but to the entire world.
I do believe that Saddam is close to acquiring nuclear weapons or to once again using his chemical or biological weapons. I do believe that it is only a matter of time before these weapons, unless eliminated, are used against the United States or our allies.
Many of my colleagues, and many in the international community, have called for weapons inspections to be given one last try. But years of UN weapons inspections and international monitoring have demonstrated that inspections cannot work as long as the Iraqi regime is determined to thwart them. And it is clear that Saddam remains as determined to block such inspections as he was before. We cannot wait any longer to address the threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction; the longer we wait, the more likely the United States and the international community will face an Iraq armed with nuclear weapons.
It is also clear that Saddam has no plans to end his support for international terrorism. While the Administration has not, in my mind, proven that Saddam has provided support to al-Qaeda, Saddam is integrally linked to Palestinian terror attacks against innocent civilians in Israel, paying a sliding scale of benefits to the families of Palestinians who are killed or injured in such attacks. The families of Palestinians who blow themselves up in suicide bombings receive $25,000 in cash; the families of those killed in other attacks against Israelis receive $10,000; Palestinians seriously injured in attacks on Israelis receive $1,000; and Palestinians lightly injured in attacks on Israelis receive $500. Saddam has volunteered to be the workers compensation plan for Palestinian terrorists, whose homicidal intentions are no different from the nineteen murders who flew airplanes filled with innocent people into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania. Only when Iraq ceases to be a threat and takes its place as a responsible member of the international community will Israel's future be secure.
Because of Saddam's continued support for terrorism and the serious threat posed by Saddam's continued efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction, I want to express my support for this resolution.
I commend President Bush, as well as the Democratic Leadership of the Senate and House and the Chairman and Ranking Member of this Committee, for their work to address some of my concerns regarding war against Iraq and a preemptive strike. In fact, many of the concerns expressed by my fellow Democrats have been included in the resolution under consideration.
I have been extremely concerned about the risks of unilateral military action. None of our European allies save Great Britain have indicated support for pre
emptive military action, and none of the allied countries neighboring Iraq-Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar-have indicated support for military action unless it is authorized by the UN Security Council. If we want to bring an end to religious extremism and terrorism in the Middle East, we must work with, not against, leaders in the region and in the international community.
The resolution being considered today, however, now includes a provision supporting the president's efforts to seek Iraqi compliance through the UN Security Council. I wish that the resolution made multilateral support and UN Security Council authorization absolute preconditions for the use of force, but I am pleased that it calls on the president to work through the Security Council to secure Iraq's compliance with existing UN resolutions. It is imperative that the United States act in concert with allies and partners with the authorization of the United Nations Security Council. U.S. national interests are not served by unilateral military action. While I am convinced, as I have said, that weapons inspections will not contribute to Saddam's disarmament, I am concerned that the rest of the world will judge us harshly because we appear too willing to use force to address the Iraqi threat. It is therefore extremely important that the resolution prevents the president from using force against Iraq unless and until he declares to Congress and to the American people that he has exhausted all possible diplomatic efforts and attests that further diplomatic means will not protect U.S. national security or lead to enforcement of UN resolutions. This means that the use of force will truly be a last resort. The resolution also requires the president to submit to Congress a determination, prior to using force, that taking military action against Iraq is consistent with continuing efforts by the United States and other nations to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations. This ensures that the war against terrorism, which must remain our top national priority, will not be pushed aside by efforts in Iraq.
Finally, the resolution requires the president to report every 60 days on military operations and on the planning for post-conflict activities such as reconstruction and peacekeeping. This provision is critical, as I do not believe that the Administration has yet developed a strategy for rebuilding Iraq.
The post-Saddam effort to transform Iraq into a democratic, multi-ethnic, free society will require a tremendous financial contribution from the United States amounting to tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars. Such an endeavor will require international support and participation. Without a long, committed international reconstruction effort, Iraq is destined to fall back into chaos and fall victim to a new despotic regime, and the sacrifices of U.S. military personnel will have been in vain.
As with Afghanistan, if we start the process of political change in Iraq by overthrowing the current regime, we must remain there to see the process through. We will have to rebuild Iraq-reconstruct critical infrastructure, bolster the educational system, invest in the oil industry, and deploy U.S. and coalition soldiers there for years while basic law and order is established-in order to bring long-term peace and stability to this region. We will need to do this not just because the Iraqi people need such assistance after decades of living under Saddam's despotic regime; we will need to do this because ensuring that Iraq is democratic, prosperous, and stable furthers U.S. national interests.
Mr. Chairman, despite my misgivings, and though I wish the Administration had decided to wait to pursue its anti-Saddam crusade until we and our allies had made more substantial inroads against terrorist groups around the world, I will support this resolution.
Noting, however, that this resolution does not provide the Administration with a blank check, I encourage you and our colleagues on the Committee to ensure that the Administration proceeds wisely:
• That it consults with allies and partners on the steps ahead;
• That it seeks authorization from the United Nations Security Council; and That it works with allies, partners, the United Nations, and other multinational institutions to develop a concrete, thorough plan for Iraq's reconstruction, and that it commits the necessary resources-both financial and human-to finish what it seeks to start.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE EARL BLUMENAUER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF OREGON
Since becoming a member of Congress, I've been struck by how often there is a gap between the needs and the concerns of the public and the ability of Congress to hear and give voice to those needs and those concerns.
Nowhere is that gap between the people and their government wider than what is happening over a possible war with Iraq.
I've talked to dozens of members of Congress from different states, from both parties, with highly varied districts, and without exception, we all hear the same reactions.
The people are asking very hard questions about the wisdom of our past actions. There is, to be charitable, little enthusiasm for unilateral American action. People suspect that part of the instability in the Middle East is the result of our past missteps and miscalculations, giving aid and comfort to Saddam Hussein and the Taliban, not thinking it through fully at the front end, and then walking away when our attention is diverted or we become fatigued.
People want to know, "What's the rush? What's changed?" and they are skeptical about what appears to be political timing.
The responses from constituents who bother to formally contact our offices are overwhelmingly opposed to war with Iraq, often by ratios of 100:1, even 500:1
I think the American public has it right.
We're not finished with the war on terrorism; and this is highly distinct from our ongoing conflict with Iraq.
We're not finished yet in Afghanistan. President Karzai is barely the mayor of Kabul, and owes his life to his American Delta Force bodyguards. It is not clear that we or the countries who supported us in Afghanistan are ready to do what it takes to finish that job.
Indeed, we're not even finished yet in the Balkans.
It has been an open secret on Capitol Hill that, contrary to some of the administration's formal pronouncements, there's been much greater caution and skepticism from the leaders in the Pentagon. Former generals have openly declared their concerns before Congress.
Some of the voices that have expressed concern, and in some instances opposition, have been those of distinguished political leaders in both parties, names familiar to the public: Armey, Gore, Lugar, Hagel, Kennedy.
There are many more concerned leaders whose voices are not as well known. These are the voices of our colleagues who don't need focus groups or more famous politicians to validate their own deeply held convictions.
My bottom line is that no president deserves a blank check when it comes to waging war. And despite some additional verbiage in this resolution, the authorization delegates the decision to the President's unfettered judgment.
Some claim the strong words of the President got the United Nations engaged. This is probably true; that is his job and his prerogative. Now Congress needs to do its job.
I am not opposed to the use of force. I have supported it in the past, and could do so in the future. However, this is a situation where neither has the case been made, nor the foundation established.
It is terrorism that is the greatest threat to America. Inappropriate action against Iraq could actually expose Americans to greater risk.
I urge the leadership and the diverse membership of this committee to be part of a diplomatic solution internationally, and to engage honestly with the American public here at home.
Congress and the American people have a right to know the costs and consequences before following this path.
We should reject the notion of a pre-emptive, unilateral, go-it-alone attack on anyone we deem a threat.
A unilateral preemptive strike, without direct provocation, is both wrong and dangerous, especially when undertaken by the most powerful nation the world has ever
If we can't live up to our principles, how can we expect other countries to obey the rule of law?
To respect the integrity of the reasonable strategic diplomatic and moral position of the United States is not to imply any sympathy for Saddam Hussein and his brutal regime.
There is a bipartisan consensus in Congress:
⚫ to work with our allies-not tell them what to do beforehand;