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Sen. John Warner: Hopefully, We Will Have Allies

to index of Iraq debate
Mr. WARNER. The Senator mentioned the case has not been made to connect al-Qaida to Iraq, but I think the Senator is aware of the fact that the Secretary of Defense has now revealed what was intelligence prior thereto, the fact that al-Qaida has now established some training camps, and so forth, within the sovereign boundaries of Iraq. That, to me, is a very important bit of intelligence that has come to the forefront.

Senator Byrd keeps saying, What is new? To me, that is very new. It is now out in the open.

While I am not suggesting there has been an absolute, airtight, direct connection between 9/11, 2001, it is clear that Iraq sponsors and shelters terrorists, including al-Qaida.

On the point about the generals who appeared before the Armed Services Committee, the Senator referred to portions of their testimony. But I have the very clear recollection -- I sat with Chairman Levin throughout every minute of that hearing. These generals also, when pressed by myself and others, said there are times when the U.S. has to act alone, if necessary, to defend ourselves and protect our national interests.

That is the point, time and time again, that I debated with our distinguished colleague, Senator Byrd, in which we have, I suppose, from his perspective, different opinions.

The Senator in his remarks just now indirectly suggests that we should wait on the UN Perhaps there will be a new inspection regime. I know Secretary of State Powell has brilliantly and courageously worked up there to develop a strong United Nations resolution. We will have to await judgment until that resolution is forthcoming. But I think we cannot leave in the minds of the American people that, in any way, our Nation must relinquish the authority, under the Constitution, to protect our own national interests -- relinquish it in any way or predicate it on action of the United Nations. We cannot do that. We cannot let the United Nations think in any way they could veto the authority of this President or the ability of this Nation to defend itself. I hope the Senator was not suggesting that in any way by his remarks.

Mr. KENNEDY. General Scowcroft, who is a distinguished retired general and arms control expert, the head of a Presidential intelligence board, was the one who indicated that he did not believe there had been a connection; that you might have had contact, but by definition, as the Senator has pointed out, the connection with al- Qaida did not in any way reflect on September 11. And Secretary Powell indicated that as well. The Director of the FBI said that this summer.

Mr. WARNER. I agree with that.

Mr. KENNEDY. If I could just finish now, I was at the last intelligence briefing. I will not characterize it as to what new information came out as a result of interviewing detainees in the past few days or weeks, but, very clearly, the statements that I said in characterizing the contacts between al-Qaida and Iraq, by Mr. Scowcroft, by Secretary Powell, by Director Mueller, would indicate that this had not been a contact that was meaningful and significant in terms of a threat to the United States.

They also pointed out that, in terms of a country that was providing aid and assistance to terrorists such as Hamas and Hezbollah, it was much higher in terms of Iran than it was in terms of Iraq.

Those references -- I included two in my statement. I will include the third.

The other point I mention is, as the Senator remembers, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Richard Myers, testified before the committee on September 19, 2002 that they would not talk about planning, would not talk about casualties, would not talk about operational issues. Even in the closed session, Secretary Rumsfeld refused to address the issues.

So I think it is important to understand that type of information, as was raised, has been denied both to the members of the committee and, most importantly, to the public.

Again, I say no one is asking for the military operations, but what we are asking for is basic assessments in terms of the numbers of personnel, their best estimates in terms of the length and what would be involved, in terms of the conflict.

Mr. WARNER. I say to my colleague, it had been my hope -- and there was planning in place -- that our committee, the Armed Services Committee, was to have had hearings this week with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and most specifically with General Franks, who has been entrusted with much of the planning. I leave it to our chairman to give the responses to why that did not occur, but that is a fact that we had planned to do it.

Secretary Rumsfeld declassified information recently and said that al-Qaida has camps existing now within the sovereign boundaries of Iraq, and senior al-Qaida leaders have had sanctuaries in Iraq. While the link, as I pointed out, between 9/11 has yet to be established, there is information of the linkage.

I am more concerned with the question I posed to the Senator. In any way does his remark suggest we should abrogate our right to act when it is in our security interest because of action or inaction, as the case may be, of the United Nations on the resolution now being formed while our Secretary of State and others are working to establish the framework in such a way that it would meet the concerns that this Nation has, and I believe Great Britain? It may not. And if it does not meet them, does that action to put out a new inspection regime which falls below the standards and requirements and goals that we think are necessary, does that mean we do nothing? Does that mean our President's hands and the hands of the Prime Minister of Great Britain are tied?

What are we to do? Allow another ineffective inspection regime to take place, which would possibly obviate the possibility of engaging Iraq more forcibly, if it were necessary to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction?

Would you clarify the position you have taken?

Mr. KENNEDY. I certainly will. If there is a clear and present danger to the United States and an immediate threat, obviously the President has the right to act and should act. But that is not what we have here. That is not the case that has been made by the Secretary of Defense or the President or the Senator from Virginia, that there is a clear and present danger to the security of the American people, and that it is imminent. That case has not been made. When that case has been made, put me down in terms of being in favor of taking immediate action.

If the President of the United States makes that determination, fine. But we have been asking: Where is this evidence? In 1962, President Kennedy took it to the United Nations and showed the world what was out there. Every American understood what was at risk. Do you have the information or don't you have the information? Is the information different today than it was a year ago when we never had this proposal? If it is, let's see it. Let's hear about it. We have not seen it in the Armed Services Committee. I haven't attended all the meetings, but I have attended just about all of them, the recent ones that we have had on Iraq. If there is any information there, I would welcome the Senator from Virginia telling me, pointing that out. But we haven't got it.

The Secretary of Defense says he does not have to make the case anymore. We ought to know that Saddam is a tyrant. We all agree.

The best question is: How are we going to best defend the security of the United States? I maintain that the security of the United States today is threatened as much by al-Qaida as by anything that is immediate now in terms of Iraq. We do not hear anything more about al- Qaida. We don't understand what the threat is. That was all we heard about.

The Senator hasn't said anything about that. Yet we find an unsettled situation in Afghanistan with the blowing up of cars, the warlords coming back, and the fact that they are trying to a get a 60,000- or 70,000-man army and they have 1,600 recruits. They want a national army. They have virtually nothing there.

We have to ask ourselves: If this doesn't go away -- as General McInerney says -- in 72 hours, what is going to happen in terms of all of those countries that are helping the United States deal with al-Qaida that was a threat to the United States, and, according to the head of the Central Intelligence Agency, continued to be the principal threat to the security of the United States just 4 months ago? You wouldn't know that. I do not know what has changed. Neither do the American people. That is what they want to hear. They hope they will hear that during this debate. But we haven't.

Mr. WARNER. in reply to my colleague's observations, in no way has this Nation lessened the intensity or commitment to the war on international terrorism in Afghanistan or elsewhere. It may not be the featured article in the press today, but I assure the Senator that the men and women of our Armed Forces, together with those of many other nations, are pressing unrelentlessly against the spread of terrorism, be it in Afghanistan or elsewhere in this world.


by Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post

"This nation is prepared to present its case against the Soviet threat to peace, and our own proposals for a peaceful world, at any time and in any forum -- in the Organization of American States, in the United Nations, of in any other meeting that could be useful -- without limiting our freedom of action." -- President John F. Kennedy, Cuban missile crisis, address to the nation, Oct. 22, 1962

"I'm waiting for the final recommendation of the Security Council before I'm going to say how I'm going to vote." -- Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Iraq crisis, address to the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Sept. 27, 2002

How far the Democrats have come. Forty years ago to the month, President Kennedy asserts his willingness to present his case to the United Nations, but also his determination not to allow the United Nations to constrain America's freedom of action. Today his brother, a leader of the same party, awaits the guidance of the United Nations before he will declare himself on how America should respond to another nation threatening the United States with weapons of mass destruction.

Ted Kennedy is not alone. Much of the leadership of the Democratic Party is in the thrall of the United Nations. War and peace hang in the balance. The world awaits to see what the American people, in Congress assembled, will say. These Democrats say: wait, we must find out what the United Nations says first.

The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin, would enshrine such lunacy in legislation, no less. He would not even authorize the use of force without prior UN approval. Why? What exactly does UN approval mean?

It cannot mean the UN General Assembly, which is an empty debatable society. It means the Security Council. Now, the Security Council has five permanent members and 10 rotating member. Among the rotating members is Syria. How can any senator stand up and tell the American people that before deciding whether America goes to war against a rogue state as Iraq, it needs to hear the "final recommendation" of Syria, a regime on the State Department's official terrorist list?

Or maybe these senators are awaiting the wisdom of some of the other nonpermanent members. Cameroon? Mauritius? Guinea?

Certainly Kennedy and Levin cannot be saying that we must not decide whether to go to war until we have heard the considered opinion of countries that none of their colleagues can find on a map.

Okay. So we are not talking about these dots on the map. We must be talking about the five permanent members. The United states is one. Another is Britain, which support us. That leaves three. So when you hear senators grandly demand the support of the "international community," this is what they mean: France, Russia and China.

As I recently asked in this space, by what logic does the blessing of these countries bestow moral legitimacy on American action? China's leaders are the butchers of Tiananmen Square. France and Russia will decide the Iraq question based on the coldest calculation of their own national interest, meaning money and oil.

Everyone in the Senate wants a new and tough inspection regime in Iraq: anytime, anywhere, unannounced. Yet these three countries, whose approval the Democrats crave, are responsible for the hopelessly diluted and useless inspection regime that now exists.

They spent the 1990s doing everything they could to dismantle the Gulf War mandate to disarm Saddam Hussein. The Clinton administration helplessly acquiesced, finally approving a new Security Council resolution in 1999 that gave us the current toothless inspections regime. France, Russia and China, mind you, refused to support even that resolution; they all abstained because it did not make yet more concessions to Saddam Hussein.

After a decade of acting as Saddam Hussein's lawyers on the Security Council, these countries are now to be the arbiters of America's new and deadly serious effort to ensure Iraqi disarmament.

So insist leading Democrats. Why? It has no moral logic. It has no strategic logic. Forty years ago, we had a Democratic president who declared that he would not allow the United Nations or any others to tell the United States how it would defend itself. Would that JFK's party had an ounce of his confidence in the wisdom and judgment of America, deciding its own fate by its own lights, regardless of the wishes of France.

Or Cameroon.

Again, I bring my colleague back to this question of the United Nations. A quote appears in today's newspaper (see sidebar).

It quotes our distinguished colleague, Senator Edward Kennedy, as saying: I am waiting for the final recommendation of the Security Council before I am going to say how I am going to vote.

I would like to give the Senator an opportunity to clarify.

Mr. KENNEDY. I called him and asked him for the context. We have not received that yet.

Mr. WARNER. Certainly, I in no way attack authenticity, and I am glad that the Senator has clarified that.

Mr. KENNEDY. It is quite clear what I have said; that is, I think it is a mistake for us to go it alone, unless there is the kind of threat that I have just described -- a clear and present danger and an imminent threat to the United States. Then we have to take action. That power is reserved for the President. We had that discussion earlier in the afternoon between the Senator from West Virginia and the Senator from Virginia. That happens to be the case. But that has not been the case, and the case has not been made.

It seems to me that we are much better off going internationally and not saying that our first choice ought to be war, the first choice ought to be battle, and the first choice ought to be conflict. I think we ought to try to build a coalition of the United Nations and take concerted action with an inspection regime that does authorize force, that does permit unfettered inspections, that includes the reporting back to the Security Council of the progress that has been made.

I outlined that in my speech. That is our position. That is what I thought the President was saying when he went to the United Nations initially. That is what I thought he was saying. That is the course of action that we ought follow, and we ought to hear certainly from the United Nations Security Council on that recommendation and on that challenge.

Mr. WARNER. Let us be clear. I assure my colleague that I agree that our President states almost daily when he addresses this issue, as he did on the steps of the White House just a day or two ago when I was right there, that his first priority is to pursue a coalition. His first priority is to pursue in the United Nations the enforcement of the resolutions passed and perhaps one in the future. He has repeatedly said war is the last -- I repeat -- the last option. He is fulfilling, in my judgment, his responsibility as President under our Constitution. And I commend him for doing so.

Mr. KENNEDY. I hope he will go to the United Nations and that he will go to the Security Council. Then, if he finds out they will not take the steps, and that we have a clear, present, and immediate danger to the United States, I hope he will come back and that we can debate and pass a resolution so we can take the steps necessary to secure this country.

But that isn't what the resolution says. We have been through that. Basically, it doesn't deal with the Security Council of the United Nations. It doesn't deal with that. It says it permits unilateral action without the Security Council taking any steps at all.

We want to follow what the Senator from Virginia says. The President has gone to the Security Council. Challenge it, get an international coalition, go for that and challenge with inspections. If that is not successful, come back here to the Senate. And I bet you that Senator Byrd will be the first name that will be on a resolution to take the action and mine will be the second. But that is not where we are now. That isn't what this resolution is all about. It effectively is granting the President the authority to go to war unilaterally if he concludes there is a continuing threat from Iraq -- not an immediate, not a clear and present danger -- if there is a continuing threat from Iraq. I think he has concluded that today.

If you pass this resolution, you are saying, Why even bother with the Security Council? If I were a member of the Security Council, I would say, Why are you even taking the time to talk to us? You have already made up your mind. You are going to war.

That is effectively what that resolution says. That is the problem some of us have with the construct and why we are here.

I thank the Senator. I appreciate it very much. I am sure we will have more opportunity to talk.

Mr. WARNER. The Senator from Massachusetts made reference to the Cuban missile crisis and the extraordinary courage that his brother, the late President, showed in his leadership. There again, as the Senator points out, there was clear evidence of a threat -- the "smoking gun," as someone said -- that famous picture of the missile. But I say to my good friend, in the days to come on this debate I will go into greater detail on the changes in technology since 1961. And here we are in 2002 with changes in technology which present a whole new framework of threats that this Nation has never experienced before -- to use the words of Secretary Kissinger in his testimony to the Foreign Relations Committee -- "modern technology in the service of terror gives no warning."

Those are the words that say to me the doctrine of preemption, which I recited, and which has been followed for many years by this country in times of need, is one that bears careful reexamination in the light of the technology possessed by Saddam Hussein. He has far more weapons than were ever presented by Adolf Hitler -- far more weapons in terms of weapons of mass destruction and the technology that exists today that didn't exist in 1961 and that didn't exist in 1941.

Mr. KENNEDY. I, for one, am not prepared to sign up for the change in foreign policy where we have one person making a decision to go to war. Today, it is Iraq because we have Saddam Hussein. Khomeini was in Iran. We were going to that country as well. What about Qadhafi? I heard from families in my State of Massachusetts who lost members of their family. Sixty-seven members of the Armed Forces lost their lives in the war against Qadhafi. Why aren't we going after Qadhafi?

What about North Korea? They may have murdered millions of their own people. They may have nuclear weapons.

Where are we stopping on this? The idea that you had a great deal more time -- in the Cuban missile crisis, had the weapons come from Cuba, we had about 11 minutes. You are saying there is no more of a dangerous time now than we had with 11 minutes?

I am not prepared to say we are going to turn over to a single individual in our democracy the authority to go to war at any time when a President believes there is a "continuing threat" from -- you fill in the name of the country. You fill in the name of the country. A "continuing threat" from where? -- fill in the name of the country -- authorizing the President to go to war.

That is not, I think, what our Founding Fathers intended.

Mr. WARNER. We will conclude this debate. Indeed, policies of containment have worked in the past, but with the spread of modern technology, and the clear documentation that this particular evil dictator, Saddam Hussein, has used these weapons against his own people and his adversaries, it is clear and convincing proof to this Senator that there is a threat that must be dealt with now -- not tomorrow, now.

Hopefully, the United Nations will devise a resolution and live up to its responsibilities. But if it does not, let there be no doubt in the minds of anyone that our Nation will act in its own interests to protect its own people and, hopefully, will act with a coalition of allies.


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Albion Monitor October 4 2002 (

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