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U.S. POLICY TOWARD IRAQ
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES,
Washington, DC, Wednesday, September 18, 2002. The committee met, pursuant to call, at 10:05 a.m., in room 2118, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Duncan Hunter presiding. OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. DUNCAN HUNTER, A
REPRESENTATIVE FROM CALIFORNIA Mr. HUNTER. The committee will come to order. Today the Committee on Armed Services continues its review of United States policy toward Iraq. This morning's hearing marks a second of a number of planned public sessions designed to educate and inform the committee and the American people on the various issues surrounding Iraq's continued violation of numerous United Nations (U.N.) resolutions, its illicit development of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and the threat that Saddam Hussein poses to the United States, the Middle East and the international community.
And I might let my colleagues know that this hearing in this series of hearings we have been having and will continue to have are being put forth at the direction of our chairman, Bob Stump. I talked to Bob just a little bit ago and Bob is doing well. He is still under the weather and undergoing some tests, but he gives his best to every member of the committee and every Member of the House and to you, Mr. Secretary, and wishes he could be with us.
Last week the committee received a classified briefing from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). In fact, we just concluded another briefing I think some 86 Members of the House attended just a few minutes ago. We also heard from former senior U.N. Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) inspectors, about Iraq's illicit weapons programs and Saddam Hussein's persistent efforts to thwart the efforts of the UN inspectors so that he might persevere and advance his weapons of mass destruction programs.
Tomorrow the Armed Services Committee will hear how the Iraqis built and sustained their weapons of mass destructions programs through the legal and illegal acquisition of Western technology, and how the United States's own export control system may have contributed to the problems we are now facing with Iraq. We also continue to plan further hearings for the coming weeks that will examine in greater detail the various aspects of the policy options before us.
Today, however, we are honored to have Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld before the committee to discuss U.S. policy toward Iraq. He is the first cabinet-level official to appear on the Hill regarding Iraq, so we are all anxious to discuss these matters with him today.
Secretary Rumsfeld is joined by General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Welcome, gentlemen. Thank you for being with us.
Mr. Secretary, before we ask you for your opening remarks, I want to invite Mr. Skelton, the distinguished gentleman from Missouri, the ranking Democrat on the committee, to offer any comments he might have.
The prepared statement of Mr. Hunter can be found in the Appendix on page 137.]
STATEMENT OF HON. IKE SKELTON, A REPRESENTATIVE
Mr. SKELTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and Mr. Secretary, general, we welcome you, and we look forward to your testimony today. This is certainly a critical time for us to be considering American action against Iraq. President Bush has made clear to Congress, to the United Nations and the American people his determination to remove Saddam Hussein from power and to neutralize the threat posed by the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, and I applaud his realization that the threat posed by Saddam Hussein is one that faces the United Nations as a whole, and I think all agree that Saddam Hussein is a despot who has violated the Security Council's resolutions for years.
But having recognized the central role of the United Nations, we must take seriously its collective judgment about how to enforce these resolutions. I am not suggesting that Congress will or should only consider an option fully supported by the United Nations, but the administration must be able to answer fundamental questions about any decision to use force. Why must action be taken now? What is the threshold beyond which the United States can no longer wait for Iraqi compliance with Security Council resolutions or for UN action in the face of Iraqi defiance? The decision to act with or without the United Nations. I have wrestled with series of questions which, I have shared with the President. Exercising our constitutional responsibilities requires Congress to take into account not only these near-term considerations of how to act, but also the long-term implication for American security interests globally of using military force against Iraq.
Some of these questions have to do with waging the broader war on terrorism. How will the United States ensure that we continue to have international support for our efforts against al Qaeda? Even if the Administration seeks military action without Security Council approval, do we have the forces, fiscal resources, munitions and other military capabilities to wage both campaigns effectively? How is the United States preparing to deal with likely Iraqi efforts to draw Israel into the conflict by launching missiles, possibly with chemical or biological warheads? What type of planning is going into succeeding in sustaining an urban operation or operations on the battlefield made toxic by chemical weapons?
As members of the Armed Services Committee, we all share the commitment to making sure that our troops can succeed on the battlefield at the lowest possible level of risk should we decide to put them in harm's way.
In considering the long-term aspects and the question of use of force, I am reminded of Karl von Clausewitz's maxim, which is in his book, “On War,” that in strategy it is imperative not to take the first step without considering the last. We must think through carefully and now, before we authorize military force, how the United States would manage Iraq after Saddam fell. Planning for the occupation of Germany and Japan took years before the end of the Second World War. In today's dynamic battlefield, we don't have the luxury of years to prepare. How can we build a stable and a democratic Iraq that takes all major groups, Shia, Sunni, Kurd into account? How will we handle members of the Baath Party and those scientists and those engineers that design weapons of mass destruction for Iraq? What military commitment will be required from the United States at the time of our victory and in the years to come? Any decision to attack Iraq must begin with answers to these questions about the strategy for achieving victory and the long-term responsibilities that come with doing so.
With answers to these questions, Mr. Secretary and General, I look forward to supporting the President in helping to craft a Congressional authorization to do so.
I thank both witnesses for being with us today and for sharing your expertise and hopefully providing answers to these very difficult, but very important, questions. Thank you so much.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Skelton can be found in the Appendix on page 139.]
Mr. HUNTER. I thank the distinguished gentleman, and Mr. Secretary, our members on this Armed Services Committee have put in a lot of hours on this question, and we look forward to working with you and hearing your testimony.
We thank you for being with us. The floor is yours, sir.
STATEMENT OF HON. DONALD H. RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF
DEFENSE Secretary RUMSFELD. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, Congressman Skelton, members of the committee. I have submitted a rather lengthy statement which I would like included in the record. It sets out
Mr. HUNTER. Without objection.
Secretary RUMSFELD. Thank you. It sets forth a number of the elements of the case that the President presented with respect to Iraq in some detail and also attempts to respond to a number of the questions that have been raised over recent days and weeks. What I would like to do is to hit some of the high points of that statement. As we all know, this is not an intelligence briefing. I understand that the committee has very recently, in fact maybe this morning, received an intelligence briefing, and it is also an open hearing. So my remarks will reflect those two facts.
Today I do want to discuss the task of preventing attacks of even greater magnitude than what was experienced on September 11th, attacks that could conceivably kill not just thousands of Americans but potentially tens of thousands of our fellow citizens.
As we meet, chemists and biologists and scientists are toiling in weapons lab and underground bunkers working to give the most dangerous dictators weapons of unprecedented power and lethality. The effect posed by those regimes is real, it is dangerous, and as the President pointed out, it is growing with each passing day. We have entered a new security environment in the 21st century, one where terrorist movements in terrorist states are developing capacities to cause unprecedented destruction.
Today our margin of error is notably different than was the case previously, in the 20th century when we were dealing with conventional weapons for the most part. Today we are dealing with weapons of mass destruction that of course tend to be used not against combatants, but against innocent men, women and children, as well. We are in an age of little or no warning when threats can emerge suddenly to surprise us. Terrorist states are finding ways to gain access to these powerful weapons, and in word and deed, they have demonstrated a willingness to use those capabilities.
Moreover, after September 11th, they have discovered a new means of delivering those weapons: terrorist networks. To the extent that they might transfer weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups—and we know terrorist groups are actively seeking those weapons—they could readily conceal their responsibility for attacks on our people. So we are on notice. An attack very likely will be attempted. The only question is when and by what technique. It could be months, it could be a year, it could be years, but it will happen, and each of us needs to pause and think about that.
If the worst were to happen, not one of us here today would be able to honestly say that it was a surprise, because it will not be a surprise. We have connected the dots, as much as as is humanly possible before the fact. Only by waiting until after the event could we have proof positive, and by then, needless to say, it will be too late.
The question facing us is this: What is the responsible course of action for our country? Do we believe it is our responsibility to wait for a weapon of mass destruction 9-11, or is it the responsibility of free people to do something, to take steps to deal with such a threat before such an attack occurs?
[Disturbance in hearing room.]
Mr. HUNTER. If we could ask the staff to see to it that our guest is escorted.
Mr. Secretary, we will be with you in a minute. Mr. Secretary, we are going to put them down as undecided.
Secretary RUMSFELD. Mr. Chairman, as I listen to those comments, it struck me what a wonderful thing free speech is, and of course the country that threw the inspectors out was not the United States. It was not the United Nations. It was Iraq that threw the inspectors out, and they have thrown them out, and they have rejected 16 resolutions of the United Nations and stipulations, but of course, people like that are not able to go into Iraq and make demonstrations like that because they don't have free speech.
I think one other point I would make before proceeding is that there is obviously a misunderstanding on the part of those who