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September 18, 2002

Today, the Committee on Armed Services continues its review of United States policy toward Iraq.

This morning's hearing marks the 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 Nation's resolutions, its illicit development of weapons of mass destruction, and the threat that Saddam Hussein poses to the United States, the Middle East, and the international community.

Last week, the Committee received a classified briefing from the CIA and DIA. We also heard from former, senior UNSCOM inspectors about Iraq's illicit weapons programs, and Saddam Hussein's persistent efforts to thwart the efforts of the U.N. inspectors so that he might preserve, 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 destruction programs


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Opening Statement for The Honorable Ike Skelton (D-MO), Ranking Member, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. House of


Full Committee Hearing on U.S. Policy Toward Iraq

September 18, 2002

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you Secretary Rumsfeld and General Myers for being with us today to answer the many questions shared by our colleagues and the American people.

This is a critical time for us to be considering U.S. action against Iraq. President Bush has made clear to the Congress, 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 program. I applaud his realization that the threat posed by Saddam is one that faces the United Nations as a whole. I think we all agree that Saddam 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 U.N. action in the face of Iraqi defiance?

Beyond the decision to act with or without the United Nations, I have wrestled with a 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 longer-term implications for U.S. 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 sustained urban operations or on a 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 if we decide to put them in harm's way.

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