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The President has asked the Members of the House and the Senate to support the actions that may be necessary to deliver on that pledge. He urged that Congress act before the congressional recess. He asked that you send a clear signal-to the world community and the Iraqi regime that our country is united in purpose and ready to act. Only certainty of U.S. and U.N. purposefulness can have even the prospect of affecting the Iraqi regime.
It is important that Congress send that message as soon as possible—before the U.N. Security Council votes. The Security Council must act soon, and it is important that the U.S. Congress signal the world where the U.S. stands before the U.N. vote takes place. Delaying a vote in Congress would send a message that the U.S. may be unprepared to take a stand, just as we are asking the international community to take a stand, and as Iraq will be considering its options.
Delay would signal the Iraqi regime that they can continue their violations of the U.N. resolutions. It serves no U.S. or U.N. purpose to give Saddam Hussein excuses for further delay. His regime should recognize that the U.S. and the U.N. are purposeful.
It was Congress that changed the objective of U.S. policy from containment to regime change by the passage of the Iraq Liberation Act in 1998. The President is now asking Congress to support that policy.
A decision to use military force is never easy. No one with any sense considers war a first choice—it is the last thing that any rational person wants to do. It is important that the issues surrounding this decision be discussed and debated.
In recent weeks, a number of questions have been surfaced by Senators, Members of Congress, and former Government officials. Some of the arguments raised are important. Just as there are risks in acting, so too there are risks in not acting.
Those risks need to be balanced; to do so, it is critical to address a number of the issues that have been raised: Some have asked whether an attack on Iraq would disrupt and distract the U.S.
from the global war on terror. The answer to that is: Iraq is a part of the global war on terror-stopping terrorist regimes from acquiring weapons of mass destruction is a key objective of that war. We can fight all elements of this war simultaneously.
Our principal goal in the war on terror is to stop another September 11—or a WMD attack that could make September 11 seem modest by comparison-before it happens. Whether that threat comes from a terrorist regime or a terrorist network is beside the point. Our objective is to stop them, regardless of the source.
In his State of the Union address last January, President Bush made our objectives clear. He said: “by seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases the price of indifference would be catastrophic.” Ultimately, history will judge us all by what we do now to deal with this danger. Another question that has been asked is this: The administration argues Saddam
Hussein poses a grave and growing danger. Where is the “smoking gun?” Mr. Chairman, the last thing we want is a smoking gun. A gun smokes after it has been fired. The goal must be to stop Saddam Hussein before he fires a weapon of mass destruction against our people. As the President told the United Nations last week, “The first time we may be completely certain he has nuclear weapons is when, God forbid, he uses one. We owe it to our citizens to do everything in our power to prevent that day from coming." If Congress or the world waits for a so-called “smoking gun,” it is certain that we will have waited too long.
But the question raises an issue that it is useful to discuss-about the kind of evidence we consider to be appropriate to act in the 21st century.
In our country, it has been customary to seek evidence that would prove guilt “ beyond a reasonable doubt" in a court of law. That approach is appropriate when the objective is to protect the rights of the accused. But in the age of WMD, the objective is not to protect the "rights” of dictators like Saddam Hussein-it is to protect the lives of our citizens. When there is that risk, and we are trying to defend against the closed societies and shadowy networks that threaten us in the 21st century, expecting to find that standard of evidence, from thousands of miles away, and to do so before such a weapon has been used, is not realistic. After such weapons have been used it is too late.
I suggest that any who insist on perfect evidence are back in the 20th century and still thinking in pre-September 11 terms. On September 11, we were awakened to the fact that America is now vulnerable to unprecedented destruction. That awareness ought to be sufficient to change the way we think about our security, how we defend our country—and the type of certainty and evidence we consider appropriate.
In the 20th century, when we were dealing largely with conventional weapons, we could wait for perfect evidence. If we miscalculated, we could absorb an attack, recover, take a breath, mobilize, and go out and defeat our attackers. In the 21st century, that is no longer the case, unless we are willing and comfortable accepting the loss not of thousands of lives, but potentially tens of thousands of lives—a high price indeed.
We have not, will not, and cannot know everything that is going on in the world. Over the years, even our best efforts, intelligence has repeatedly underestimated the weapons capabilities of a variety of countries of major concern to us. We have had numerous gaps of 2, 4, 6, or 8 years between the time a country of concern first developed a WMD capability and the time we finally learned about it.
We do know: that the Iraqi regime has chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction and is pursuing nuclear weapons; that they have a proven willingness to use the weapons at their disposal; that they have proven aspirations to seize the territory of, and threaten, their neighbors; that they have proven support for and cooperation with terrorist networks; and that they have proven record of declared hostility and venomous rhetoric against the United States. Those threats should be clear to all.
In his U.N. address, the President said “we know that Saddam Hussein pursued weapons of mass murder even when inspectors were in his country. Are we to assume that he stopped when they left?” To the contrary, knowing what we know about Iraq's history, no conclusion is possible except that they have and are accelerating their WMD programs.
Now, do we have perfect evidence that can tell us precisely the date Iraq will have a deliverable nuclear device, or when and where he might try to use it? That is not knowable. But it is strange that some seem to want to put the burden of proof on us—the burden of proof ought to be on him—to prove he has disarmed; to prove he no longer poses a threat to peace and security. That he cannot do.
Committees of Congress currently are asking hundreds of questions about what happened on September 11—pouring over thousands of pages of documents, and asking who knew what, when, and why they didn't prevent that tragedy. I suspect, that in retrospect, most of those investigating September 11 would have supported preventive action to pre-empt that threat, if it had been possible to see it coming.
Well, if one were to compare the scraps of information the government had before September 11, to the volumes of information the government has today about Iraq's pursuit of WMD, his use of those weapons, his record of aggression and his consistent hostility toward the United States—and then factor in our country's demonstrated vulnerability after September 11—the case the President made should be clear.
As the President said, time is not on our side. If more time passes, and the attacks we are concerned about come to pass, I would not want to have ignored all the warning signs and then be required to explain why our country failed to protect our fellow citizens.
We cannot go back in time to stop the September 11 attack. But we can take actions now to prevent some future threats. Some have argued that the nuclear threat from Iraq is not imminent—that Saddam
is at least 5–7 years away from having nuclear weapons. I would not be so certain. Before Operation Desert Storm in 1991, the best intelligence estimates were that Iraq was at least 5–7 years away from having nuclear weapons. The experts were flat wrong. When the U.S. got on the ground, it found the Iraqi's were probably 6 months to a year away from having a nuclear weaponnot 5 to 7 years.
We do not know today precisely how close he is to having a deliverable nuclear weapon. What we do know is that he has a sizable appetite for them, that he has been actively and persistently pursuing them for more than 20 years, and that we allow him to get them at our peril. Moreover, let's say he is 5–7 years from a deliverable nuclear weapon. That raises the question: 5–7 years from when? From today? From 1998, when he kicked out the inspectors? Or from earlier, when inspectors were still in country? There is no way of knowing except from the ground, unless one believes what Saddam Hussein says.
But those who raise questions about the nuclear threat need to focus on the immediate threat from biological weapons. From 1991 to 1995, Iraq repeatedly insisted it did not have biological weapons. Then, in 1995, Saddam's son-in-law defected and told the inspectors some of the details of Iraq's biological weapons program. Only then did Iraq admit it had produced tens of thousands of liters of anthrax and other biological weapons. But even then, they did not come clean. U.N. inspectors believe Iraq had in fact produced two to four-times the amount of biological agents it had declared. Those biological agents were never found. Iraq also refused to account for some three tons of materials that could be used to produce biological weapons.
Iraq has these weapons. They are much simpler to deliver than nuclear weapons, and even more readily transferred to terrorist networks, who could allow Iraq to deliver them without fingerprints.
If you want an idea of the devastation Iraq could wreak on our country with a biological attack, consider the recent “Dark Winter" exercise conducted by Johns Hopkins University. It simulated a biological WMD attack in which terrorists released smallpox in three separate locations in the U.S. Within 22 days, it is estimated it would have spread to 26 states, with an estimated 6000 new infections occurring daily. Within 2 months, the worst-case estimate indicated 1 million people could be dead and another 2 million infected. Not a nice picture.
The point is this: we know Iraq possesses biological weapons, and chemical weapons, and is expanding and improving their capabilities to produce them. That should be of every bit as much concern as Iraq's potential nuclear capability. Some have argued that even if Iraq has these weapons, Saddam Hussein does not
intend to use WMD against the U.S. because he is a survivor, not a suicide bomber—that he would be unlikely to take actions that could lead to his own destruction. Then why is Iraq pursuing WMD so aggressively? Why are they willing to pay such a high price for them—to suffer a decade of economic sanctions that have cost them tens of billions in oil revenues-sanctions they could get lifted simply by an agreement to disarm?
One answer is that, as some critics have conceded, “he seeks weapons of mass destruction . . . to deter us from intervening to block his aggressive designs.” This is no doubt a motivation. But consider the consequences if they were allowed to succeed.
Imagine for a moment that Iraq demonstrated the capacity to attack U.S. or European population centers with nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. Then imagine you are the President of the United States, trying to put together an international coalition to stop their aggression, after Iraq had demonstrated that capability. It would be a daunting task. His regime believes that simply by possessing the capacity to deliver WMD to Western capitals, he will be able to prevent-terrorize the free world from projecting force to stop his aggression-driving the West into a policy of forced isolationism.
That said, it is far from clear that he would not necessarily restrain from taking actions that could result in his destruction. For example, that logic did not stop the Taliban from supporting and harboring al Qaeda as they planned and executed repeated attacks on the U.S. Their miscalculation resulted in the destruction of their regime. Regimes without checks and balances are prone to grave miscalculations. Saddam Hussein has no checks whatsoever on his decision-making authority. Who among us really believes it would be wise or prudent for us to base our security on the hope that Saddam Hussein, or his sons who might succeed him, could not make the same fatal miscalculations as Mullah Omar and the Taliban?
It is my view that we would be ill advised to stake our people's lives on Saddam
networks, Saddam has a “return address.” Mr. Chairman, there is no reason for confidence that if Iraq launched a WMD attack on the U.S., it would necessarily have an obvious “return address.” There are ways Iraq could easily conceal responsibility for a WMD attack. They could deploy "sleeper cells" armed with biological weapons to attack us from within and then deny any knowledge or connection to the attacks. Or they could put a WMD-tipped missile on a "commercial” shipping vessel, sail it within range of our coast, fire it, and then melt back into the commercial shipping traffic before we knew what hit us. Finding that ship would be like searching for a needle in a haystack-a bit like locating a single terrorist. Or they could recruit and utilize a terrorist network with similar views and objectives, and pass on weapons of mass destruction to them. It is this nexus between a terrorist state like Iraq with WMD and terrorist networks that has so significantly changed the U.S. security environment.
We still do not know with certainty who was behind the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia-an attack that killed 19 American service members. We still do not know who is responsible for last year's anthrax attacks. The nature of terrorist attacks is that it is often very difficult to identify who is ultimately responsible. Indeed, our consistent failure over the past 2 decades to trace terrorist attacks to their ultimate source gives terrorist states the lesson that using terrorist networks as proxies is an effective way of attacking the U.S. with impunity. Some have opined there is scant evidence of Iraq's ties to terrorists, and he has little
incentive to make common cause with them. That is not correct. Iraq's ties to terrorist networks are long-standing. It is no coincidence that Abu Nidal was in Baghdad when he died under mysterious circumstances. Iraq has also reportedly provided safe haven to Abdul Rahman Yasin, one of the FBI's most wanted terrorists, who was a key participant in the first World Trade Center bombing. We know that al Qaeda is operating in Iraq today, and that little happens in Iraq without the knowledge of the Saddam Hussein regime. We also know that there have been a number of contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda over the years. We know Saddam has ordered acts of terror himself, including the attempted assassination of a former U.S. President.
He has incentives to make common cause with terrorists. He shares many common objectives with groups like al Qaeda, including an antipathy for the Saudi royal family and a desire to drive the U.S. out of the Persian Gulf region. Moreover, if he decided it was in his interest to conceal his responsibility for an attack on the U.S., providing WMD to terrorists would be an effective way of doing so. Some have said that they would support action to remove Saddam if the U.S. could
prove a connection to the attacks of September 11–but there is no such proof. The question implies that the U.S. should have to prove that Iraq has already attacked us in order to deal with that threat. The objective is to stop him before he attacks us and kills thousands of our citizens.
The case against Iraq does not depend on an Iraqi link to September 11. The issue for the U.S. is not vengeance, retribution or retaliation—it is whether the Iraqi regime poses a growing danger to the safety and security of our people, and of the world. There is no question but that it does. Some argue that North Korea and Iran are more immediate threats than Iraq. North
Korea almost certainly has nuclear weapons, and is developing missiles that will be able to reach most of the continental United States. Iran has stockpiles of chemical weapons, is developing ballistic missiles of increasing range, and is ag
hemsively pursuing nuclear weapons. The question is asked: why not deal with Iran and North Korea are indeed threats--problems we take seriously. That is why President Bush named them specifically, when he spoke about an “Axis of Evil.” We have policies to address both.
But Iraq is unique. No other living dictator matches Saddam Hussein's record of: waging aggressive war against his neighbors; pursuing weapons of mass destruction; using WMD against his own people and other nations; launching ballistic missiles at his neighbors; brutalizing and torturing his own citizens; harboring terrorist networks; engaging in terrorist acts, including the attempted assassination of foreign officials; violating his international commitments; lying, cheating and hiding his WMD programs; deceiving and defying the express will of the United Nations over and over again.
As the President told the U.N., “in one place—in one regime—we find all these dangers in their most lethal and aggressive forms." Some respond by saying, OK, Iraq poses a threat we will eventually have to deal
with—but now is not the time to do so. To that, I would ask: when? Will it be a better time when his regime is stronger? When its WMD programs are still further advanced? After he further builds his forces, which are stronger and deadlier with each passing day? Yes, there are risks in acting. The President understands those risks. But there are also risks in further delay. As the President has said: “I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons." Others say that overthrowing the regime should be the last step, not the first.
I would respond that for more than a decade now, the international community has tried every other step. They have tried diplomacy; they have tried sanctions and embargoes; they have tried positive inducements, such as the "oil for food” program; they have tried inspections; they have tried limited military strikes. Together, all these approaches have failed to accomplish the U.N. goals.
If the President were to decide to take military action to overthrow the regime, it would be not the first step, it would be the last step, after a decade of failed diplomatic and economic steps to stop his drive for WMD. Some have asked: why not just contain him? The West lived for 40 years with the
Soviet threat, and never felt the need to take pre-emptive action. If containment
worked on the Soviet Union, why not Iraq? First, it's clear from the Iraqi regime's 11 years of defiance that containment has not led to their compliance. To the contrary, containment is breaking down—the regime continues to receive funds from illegal oil sales and procure military hardware necessary to develop weapons of mass murder. So not only has containment failed to reduce the threat, it has allowed the threat to grow.
Second, with the Soviet Union we faced an adversary that already possessed nuclear weapons—thousands of them. Our goal with Iraq is to prevent them from getting nuclear weapons. We are not interested in establishing a balance of terror with the likes of Iraq, like the one that existed with the Soviet Union. We are interested in stopping a balance of terror from forming. Third, with the Soviet Union, we believed that time was on our side
and we were correct. With Iraq, the opposite is true-time is not on our side. Every month that goes by, his WMD programs are progressing and he moves closer to his goal of possessing the capability to strike our population, and our allies, and hold them hostage to blackmail.
Finally, while containment worked in the long run, the Soviet Union's nuclear arsenal prevented the West from responding when they invaded their neighbor, Afghanistan. Does anyone really want Saddam to have that same deterrent, so he can invade his neighbors with impunity? Some ask: Why does he have to be overthrown? Can't we just take out the capabilities
he has that threaten us? While the President has not made that decision, the problem with doing it piecemeal is this: First, we do not know where all of Iraq's WMD facilities are. We do know where a fraction of them are. Second, of the facilities we do know, not all are vulnerable to attack from the air. Some are underground. Some are mobile. Others are purposely located near population centers-schools, mosques, hospitals, etc.where an air strike could kill large numbers of innocent people. The Iraq problem cannot be solved with air strikes alone. Some have argued that, if we do have to go to war, the U.S. should first layout de
tails of a truly comprehensive inspections regime, which, if Iraq failed to comply,
would provide a casus belli. I would respond this way: if failure to comply with WMD inspections is a casus belli, the U.N. already has it—Iraq's non-compliance with U.N. inspection regimes has been going on for more than a decade. What else can one ask for?
The U.Š. is not closed to inspections as an element of an effective response. But the goal is not inspections—it is disarmament. Any inspections would have to be notably different from the past. Given the history of this regime, the world community has every right to be skeptical that it would be. That is why, in 1998, the U.S. began to speak of regime change.
Our goal is disarmament. The only purpose of any inspections would be to prove that Iraq has disarmed, which would require Iraq to reverse its decades-long policy of pursuing these weapons. Something they are unlikely to do.
There are serious concerns about whether an inspections regime could be effective. Even the most intrusive inspection regime would have difficultly getting at all his weapons of mass destruction. Many of his WMD capabilities are mobile and can be hidden to evade inspectors. He has vast underground networks and facilities to hide WMD, and sophisticated denial and deception techniques. It is simply impossible to “spot check” a country the size of Iraq. Unless we have people inside the Iraqi program who are willing to tell us what they have and where they have itas we did in 1995 with the defection of Saddam's son in law, Hussein Kamel-it is easy for the Iraqi regime to hide its capabilities from us.
Indeed, Hans Blix, the chief U.N. Weapons inspector, said as much in an interview with the New York Times last week. According to the Times, “Mr. Blix) acknowledged that there were some limitations to what his team could accomplish even if it was allowed to return. Mr. Blix said his inspectors might not be able to detect mobile laboratories for producing biological weapons materials, or underground storehouses for weapons substances, if the inspectors did not have informa