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think that the goal is inspections. The goal isn't inspections. The goal is disarmament. That is what was agreed to by Iraq. That is what was understood by the United Nations. The ease with which people can migrate over and suggest that the task before the world is inspections, you can only have inspections when a country is cooperating with you. They have to agree that that is—they have the same goal as those that are attempting to validate something. So one would hope that those thoughts could be a part of this dialogue.
There are a number of terrorist states pursuing weapons of mass destruction: Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, to name but a few. But no terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people and the stability of the world than the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. These facts about the Saddam Hussein regime I think should be part of this record in our country's considerations.
He ordered the use of chemical weapons against his own people, in one case killing some 5,000 innocent civilians. His regime invaded two of its neighbors and launched ballistic missiles at four of its neighbors. He plays host to terrorist networks, assassinates his opponents, both in Iraq and abroad, and has attempted to assassinate a former President of the United States. He has executed members of his cabinet. He has ordered doctors to surgically remove the ears of military deserters.
His regime has committed genocide and ethnic cleansing in northern Iraq, ordering the extermination of over 50,000 people. His regime on an almost daily basis continues to fire missiles and artillery at U.S. and coalition aircraft as they fulfill the U.N. mission with respect to Operation Northern Watch and Operation Southern Watch. His regime has amassed large clandestine stocks of biological weapons, including anthrax and botulism toxin and possibly smallpox. His regime has amassed large clandestine stockpiles of chemical weapons including VX and Sarin and mustard gas. His regime has an active program to acquire and develop nuclear weapons. And let there be no doubt about it, his regime has dozens of ballistic missiles and is working to extend their range in violation of U.N. restrictions.
His regime has in place an elaborate organized system of denial and deception to frustrate both inspectors and outside intelligence efforts. His regime has diverted funds from the U.N. Oil for Food Program, funds intended to help feed starving Iraqi civilians, to fund his weapons of mass destruction programs. And his regime has violated 16 U.N. resolutions, repeatedly defying the will of the international community without cost or consequence.
As the President warned the United Nations last week, the Saddam Hussein regime is a grave and gathering danger. It is a danger we do not have the option to ignore. In his U.N. address, the President explained why we should not allow the Iraqi regime to acquire weapons of mass destruction, and he issued a challenge to the international community to enforce the numerous resolutions that the U.N. passed and that the Iraqis have defied and to show that the U.N. is determined not to become irrelevant.
President Bush has made clear that the United States wants to work with the U.N. Security Council, but he made clear the consequences of Iraq's continued defiance. He said, “The purposes of the United States should not be doubted. The Security Council resolutions will be enforced or action will be unavoidable, and a regime that has lost its legitimacy will also lose its power.
The President has asked Members of the House and the Senate to support actions that may be necessary to deliver on that pledge. He urged that the Congress act before the recess. He asked that you send a clear signal to the world community and to the Iraqi regime that our country is united in purpose and prepared to act. It is important that Congress send that message before the U.N. Security Council votes. Delaying a vote in Congress would send a wrong message in my view, just as we are asking the international community to take a stand and as we are cautioning the Iraqi regime to respond and consider its options.
It was Congress that changed the objective of U.S. policy from containment to regime change by the passage of the Iraqi Liberation Act in 1998. The President is now asking Congress to support that policy.
A decision to use military force is never easy, and it is important that the issues surrounding this decision be discussed and debated. In recent weeks, a number of questions have been surfaced by Members of the Congress and others. Some of the arguments raised are truly important. And in my prepared testimony, I attempted to discuss in detail a whole series of those questions and what I believe to be appropriate responses. Let me touch on a few this morning.
Some have asked whether an attack on Iraq would disrupt and distract from the U.S. global war on terror. The answer is that Iraq is part of the global war on terror. Stopping terrorist regimes from acquiring weapons of mass destruction is a key objective of that war, and we can fight all elements of the global war on terror simultaneously. As the members of this committee know well, our strategy includes the ability to win decisively in one theater and be able to occupy a country, to near simultaneously swiftly defeat a country in another theater, to provide for homeland defense and a number of lesser contingencies such as Bosnia and Kosovo. That is what our force sizing construct is. That is what was briefed to this committee. So let there be no doubt but that we can do both at the same time.
Our principal goal of the war on terror is to stop another 9/11 or a WMD attack that could make a 9/11 seem modest by comparison, and to do it 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.
Another question that has been asked is where is the smoking gun? Well, the last thing we want to see is a smoking gun. A gun smokes after it has been fired, and the goal must be to stop such an action before it happens. As the President told the United Nations, “The first time we may be completely certain that a terrorist state has nuclear weapons is when, God forbid, they use one. And we owe it to our citizens to do everything in our power to prevent that day from coming,”.
If someone is waiting for a so-called smoking gun, it is certain that we will have waited too long. But the question raises another
issue that is usually discussed, and that is what kind of evidence ought we to consider as appropriate to act in the 21st century. In our country it has been customary to seek evidence that would prove guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. That approach of course is appropriate when the objective is to protect the rights of the accused, but in the age of weapons of mass destruction, the objective is not to protect the rights of a Saddam Hussein. It is to protect the lives of the American people and our friends and allies, and when there is that risk and we are trying to defend against closed societies and shadowy terrorist networks, expecting to find that standard of evidence before such a weapon has been used is really not realistic, and after such a weapon has been used it is too late.
I suggest that any who insist on perfect evidence really are thinking back in the 20th century in a pre-9/11 context.
On September 11th, we were awakened to the fact that America is now vulnerable to unprecedented destruction, and that awareness ought to be sufficient to change the way we think about our security and the type of certainty and evidence we consider appropriate. We will not have, we do not have and cannot know everything that is going on in the world at any time.
Over the years, despite the very best efforts of enormously expensive talented intelligence capabilities, we have repeatedly underestimated the weapons capabilities in a variety of countries of major concern to us. We have had numerous gaps of two, four, six, eight, ten and in one case more years between the time a country developed a capability and the time that the United States of America became aware of it.
We do know that the Iraqi regime currently has chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction, and we do know they are currently pursuing nuclear weapons, that they have a proven willingness to use those weapons at their disposal and that they have a proven aspiration to seize the territory of and threaten their neighbors, proven support for and cooperation with terrorist networks and proven record of declared hostility and venomous rhetoric against the United States. Those threats should be clear to all.
Committees of Congress are interestingly—they are currently asking hundreds of questions and pouring over tens of thousands of documents, pages of documents, about September 11th, and they are asking the question, who knew what, when and why didn't we prevent that tragedy?
Well, if one were to compare the scraps of information that the government had before September 11th to the volumes of information the government has today about Iraqi's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, his use of those weapons, his record of aggression and his consistent hostility towards the United States and then factor in our country's demonstrated vulnerability after September 11th, the case the President made should be clear.
If more time passes and the attacks we are concerned about were to come to pass, we would not want to have ignored those warning signs and then be required to explain why we failed to protect our fellow citizens.
Some have argued that the nuclear threat from Iraq is not imminent, that Saddam Hussein is at least 5 to 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 about 5 to 7 years away from having nuclear weapons. The experts were flat wrong. When the U.S. got on the ground, it found that the Iraqis were probably 6 months to a year to 18 months from having a nuclear weapon, not 5 to 7 years.
We do know that he has been actively and persistently pursuing nuclear weapons for more than 20 years, but we should be just as concerned about the immediate threat from biological weapons. Iraq has these weapons. They are simpler to deliver and even more readily transferred to terrorist networks, who could allow Iraq to deliver them without Iraq's fingerprints. If you want an idea of the devastation Iraq could wreck on our country with a biological attack, consider the recent unclassified Dark Winter exercise conducted by Johns Hopkins University. It stimulated a biological WMD attack in which terrorists released smallpox in three separate locations in the U.S. Within two months the worst-case estimate indicated up to one million people could be dead and another two million infected. Cut it in half. Cut it in a quarter. It is not a nice picture.
Some have argued that Iraq is unlikely to use weapons of mass destruction against us, because unlike terrorist networks, Saddam Hussein has a return address. That is to say, he is probably deterrable is the argument. Well, Mr. Chairman, there is no reason for confidence that if Iraq launched a WMD attack on the U.S. that it would necessarily have an obvious return address. There are ways Iraq could easily conceal responsibility for a WMD attack. For example, they could give biological weapons to terrorist networks to attack the United States from within and then deny any knowledge. Suicide bombers are not deterrable.
We still do not know with certainty who was behind the 1996 bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. We don't know who is responsible for last year's anthrax attacks. Indeed our consistent failure over the past two decades to trace terrorist attacks to their ultimate source gives terrorist states the lesson that using terrorist networks is a very effective way of attacking the United States seemingly with impunity.
Some argue that North Korea and Iran are more immediate threats than Iraq. Well, why not deal with them first, the question goes? Well, Iran and North Korea are indeed threats and problems. That is why President Bush named them specifically when he spoke about the axis of evil, and we do as a country 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 them against his own people, launching missiles against his neighbors, brutalizing and torturing his own citizens, harboring terrorist networks, engaging in terrorist acts, including the attempted assassination of foreign officials, violating international commitments, lying and hiding his WMD programs from inspectors, deceiving and defying the express will of the United Nations over and over again.
As the President told the United Nations in one place in one regime, we find all of these dangers in their most lethal and aggressive forms. Some have asked if containment worked on the Soviet Union. Why not just contain Iraq? First, it is 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.
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.
Third, with the Soviet Union we believed that time was on our side, and indeed we were correct. Time was on our side. With Iraq the opposite is true. Time is not on our side. Every month that goes by with his weapons of mass destruction programs, they are progressing.
Fourth, the containment worked in the long run. The Soviet Union's nuclear arsenal prevented the West from responding when they—while containment did work in the long run, the Soviet Union's nuclear arsenal prevented the West from responding when they invaded their neighbor Afghanistan, if you think back. Does anyone really want Saddam Hussein to have the same deterrence so that he could invade his neighbors with impunity?
Some have argued that if we do go to war the U.S. should first lay out details of a truly comprehensive inspection regime, which if Iraq failed to comply would provide a casus belli.
Welì, I would respond this way. If failure to comply with weapons of mass destruction inspections is a casus belli, the U.N. already has it. It is preceded over a period of many, many years. The United States, as the President indicated, is not closed to the idea of inspections as an element of an effective response, but our goal can't be inspections. It has to be disarmament. That is where the threat is. The purpose of inspections is to prove that Iraq has disarmed, which would require that Iraq would reverse its decade-long policy of pursuing those weapons, and that is certainly something that Iraq is unlikely to do.
Even the most intrusive inspection regime would have difficulty getting in all of his weapons of mass destruction. Many of his WMD capabilities are mobile. They can be hidden from inspectors no matter how intrusive. He has vast underground networks and facilities and sophisticated denial and deception techniques.
There is a place in this world for inspections. They tend to be effective if the target nation is actually willing to disarm and wants to prove to the world that they are doing so. They are looking for a way to prove to the world that they have in fact done what the world has asked them to do. They tend not to be as effective on covering deceptions and violations when the target is determined not to disarm and to try to deceive. And Iraq's record of the past decade shows that they want weapons of mass destruction and are determined to continue developing them.
Some say that there is no international consensus behind ousting Saddam Hussein and that most of our key allies are opposed. First, the truth is to the contrary. There are a number of countries that want Saddam Hussein gone and increasing numbers are willing to say so publicly, and a quite large number are willing to say so privately, although because a number of countries live in the neighborhood and he is not a nice neighbor, it is not surprising that some of them are reluctant to say so publicly.