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resolutions -- it is the only place in the world where U.S. forces are shot at with impunity. His regime has subjected tens of thousands of political prisoners and ordinary Iraqis to arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, summary execution, torture, beatings, burnings, electric shocks, starvation and mutilation. He has ordered doctors to surgically remove the ears of military deserters, and the gang rape of Iraqi women, including political prisoners, the wives and daughters of their opposition and members of the regime suspected of
disloyalty. • His regime is actively pursuing weapons of mass destruction, and willing to pay
a high price to get them-giving up tens of billions in oil revenue under
economic sanctions by refusing inspections to preserve his WMD programs. • His regime has amassed large, clandestine stockpiles of biological weapons
including anthrax and botulism toxin, and possibly smallpox. His regime has amassed large, clandestine stockpiles of chemical weaponsincluding VX, sarin, cyclosarin and mustard gas. His regime has an active program to acquire and develop nuclear weapons. • They have the knowledge of how to produce nuclear weapons, and
designs for at least two different nuclear devices.
well as the infrastructure needed to build a weapon.
sources and the capability to produce it indigenously. • His regime has dozens of ballistic missiles, and is working to extend their range
in violation of UN restrictions. His regime is pursuing pilotless aircraft as a means of delivering chemical and biological weapons. His regime agreed after the Gulf War to give up weapons of mass destruction and submit to international inspections, then lied, cheated and hid their WMD
programs for more than a decade. • His regime has in place an elaborate, organized system of denial and deception
to frustrate both inspectors and outside intelligence efforts. • His regime has violated UN economic sanctions, using illicit oil revenues to fuel
their WMD aspirations. His regime has diverted funds from the UN's "oil for food" program-funds intended to help feed starving Iraqi civilians- to fund WMD programs. His regime violated 16 UN resolutions, repeatedly defying the will of the
international community without cost or consequence. • And his regime is determined to acquire the means to strike the U.S., its friends
and allies with weapons of mass destruction, acquire the territory of their neighbors, and impose their control over the Persian Gulf region.
As the President warned the United Nations last week, "Saddam Hussein's regime is a grave and gathering danger.” It is a danger to its neighbors, to the United States, to the Middle East, and to international peace and stability. It is a danger we do not have the option to ignore.
The world has acquiesced in Saddam Hussein's aggression, abuses and defiance for more than a decade.
In his UN address, the President explained why we should not allow the Iraqi regime to acquire weapons of mass destruction, and issued a challenge to the international community: to enforce the numerous resolutions the UN has passed and Saddam Hussein has defied; to show that Security Council's decisions will not to be cast aside without cost or consequence; to show that the UN is up to the challenge of dealing with a dictator like Saddam Hussein; to show that the UN is determined not to become irrelevant.
President Bush has made clear that the United States wants to work with the UN Security Council to deal with the threat posed by the Iraqi regime. But he made clear the consequences of Iraq's continued defiance: "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 the Members of the House and the Senate to support the actions that may be necessary to deliver on that pledge. He urged that the 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 UN 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 UN 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 UN vote takes place. Delaying a vote in the 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 UN resolutions. It serves no U.S. or UN purpose to give Saddam Hussein excuses for further delay. His regime should recognize that the U.S. and the UN 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. 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 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, and 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 9/11 - or a WMD attack that could make 9/11 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 the Congress or the world wait 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. And 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. And, 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-9/11 terms. On September 19th, 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 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 two, four, six or eight 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; 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.
In his UN 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. And that he cannot do.
Committees of Congress currently are asking hundreds of questions about what happened on September 11th - pouring over thousands of pages of documents, and asking who know what, when and why they didn't prevent that tragedy. I suspect, that in retrospect, most of those investigating 9/11 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 17th 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 11th— 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 19 th attack. But we can take actions now to prevent some future threats.
Some have argued that the nuclear threat from Iraq 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 fiat wrong. When the U.S. got on the ground, it found the Iraqi's were probably six months to a year away from having a nuclear weapon
not 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.