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U.S. POLICY TOWARD IRAQ
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, DC, Thursday, September 26, 2002.
The committee met, pursuant to call, at 9:40 a.m., in room 2118, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Duncan Hunter presiding.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. DUNCAN HUNTER, A
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 the fourth in 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 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.
The committee has received a classified briefing from the intelligence community in each of the last three weeks, which we also opened to all members of the House in the last several weeks. We also heard from former United Nations Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) inspectors about Iraq's weapons programs and Saddam Hussein's persistent efforts to thwart United Nations (U.N.) inspections, and we heard from an Iraqi defector who was a leader in Saddam's nuclear weapons program. He told us how the Iraqis built and sustained their weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs through the acquisition of western technology, and how the United States' own export control system may have contributed to the problems we are now facing with Iraq. And I thought, most interestingly, he told about how even as our inspectors were on the ground in 1993, a few miles away, they were moving the weapons program with great efficiency.
Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld appeared before the committee last week to discuss and defend the administration's policy toward Iraq. And yesterday morning, the committee met behind closed doors with several retired generals to hear their views on this critical issue with a special focus on military options.
The committee is planning on holding another hearing next week, next Wednesday, on the topic of U.S. policy toward Iraq. Today, however, we will hear from two well-known gentlemen who have distinguished themselves in the world of foreign and defense policy: The honorable Richard Perle, who is a Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and Chairman of the Defense Policy Board; and General Wesley Clark, United States Army, Re
tired, and Managing Director, Merchant Banking, of the Stephens Group, Incorporated, and a former Commander in Chief of the United States European Command.
And, gentlemen, we greatly appreciate you being with us this morning and sharing your wisdom and your viewpoints. We want to thank you for being with us. And, I also want to inform the full committee that this very robust schedule of hearings, both public hearings and classified hearings, are being done at the direction of the chairman of the full committee, Bob Stump. It was his feeling that we needed to educate not only members of the committee, but as many members of the House that it possibly could on this issue, so they can make an informed judgment when it comes time to vote.
And, I might let folks know that I think we have had about 120 non-committee members appear and listen in on the classified briefings that we have been holding. So, we are going to continue with these hearings and our goal is to see to it that every single member of the House who desires to have a classified briefing on this issue before this vote has an opportunity to do it, as well, of course, to attend our public hearings.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Hunter can be found in the Appendix on page 329.)
Before we begin, I want to turn to my good friend the gentleman from Missouri, Mr. Skelton, the Ranking Member and offer any comments he might have. STATEMENT OF HON. IKE SKELTON, A REPRESENTATIVE
FROM MISSOURI, RANKING MEMBER, COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
Mr. SKELTON. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much. I welcome Mr. Perle, General Clark. We look forward to your testimony. And, Mr. Chairman, to shorten the hearing just a bit, I ask that my prepared statement be entered in the record
Mr. HUNTER. Without objection.
Mr. SKELTON [continuing]. And state this is a very crucial and critical time for us in this country regarding proposed action against Iraq. The President has made it clear to Congress and the United Nations and the American people that he has the determination to remove Saddam Hussein from power. And, there are a number of questions that need to be answered, in my opinion, such as what can still be done before we must compel Iraq with use of force; what is the threshold beyond which the United States can no longer wait for Iraqi compliance with Security Council resolutions? To me, the aftermath-and all of us know and understand and appreciate the high capability of the American fighting forcewhat do we do in the aftermath that in my opinion looms as the Damocles sword over whatever might be
successful deweaponization of the Iraqi regime?
So, where do we go from here? And, I hope our witnesses can give us the benefit of their wisdom on these and the other issues that come forth surrounding this very, very important issue that we in America face. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Skelton can be found in the Appendix on page 332.)
Mr. HUNTER. I thank the gentleman. And Mr. Perle, great to see you. I am glad that Washington traffic, while it held you up, didn't totally block you from getting into the city. Thank you for being with us. You have been with us many times, and I know all the members have appreciated your wisdom and insight. The floor is yours sir.
STATEMENT OF RICHARD PERLE, RESIDENT FELLOW,
Mr. PERLE. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for including me in today's hearing. As we confront issues of war and peace, our country is strongest when the Congress and the executive branch act in concert. In all the talk of the need for a coalition to confront Saddam Hussein, the coalition that matters most is to be found here in Washington at opposite ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. The President, Secretary Powell, Secretary Rumsfeld and, most recently, British Prime Minister Blair have all spoken in recent days about the urgency of dealing with the threat posed to the American people and others by Saddam Hussein.
In what may well be the most important speech of his presidency, President Bush has argued eloquently and, in my view, persuasively to the United Nations in New York that Saddam's open defiance of the United Nations and his scornful refusal to heed its many injunctions is a challenge to the credibility of the United Nations itself. And, he has rightly asked the United Nations to approve a Security Council resolution that would force Saddam to choose between full compliance with the many resolutions he has scorned and violated and action to remove his regime from power.
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Saddam's response calculating, deceitful, and disingenuousmoves only slightly in the direction of U.N. inspections of Iraqi territory and not at all to the disarmament, toward what really matters.
The statement issued in his name that he will accept inspections unconditionally is anything but unconditional. It is hedged as to the allowable types of inspection and the rules under which inspections will be conducted. As I understand it, Saddam is demanding an inspection regime in which advance notification is required and in which certain places are off limits to the inspectors, who would be limited in number, mobility, and armament. Even from a government whose cooperation we could count on, these conditions would be unacceptable; but, from Saddam Hussein, who has gone to enormous lengths to conceal his weapons program from previous international inspectors and continues to lie about them now, the sort of inspection regime that Kofi Annan has negotiated with Saddam would be a farce; not simply inadequate, Mr. Chairman, a farce.
What would a robust inspection regime look like? It would at a minimum include tens of thousands of inspectors with Americans in key leadership and decision-making roles distributed throughout Iraq possessing an independent capability to move anywhere from dispersed bases to any site in the country without prior notification or approval, the right to interview any Iraqi or Iraqi resident together with his family at a safe location outside Iraq, appropriate
self-defense capabilities for the inspectors so they can overcome efforts to impede them, and the like.
And, let me just observe in passing that the inspection team that is being readied has significantly downgraded the presence and the role of Americans. The senior-most American, as I understand it, is in charge of training. The critical function of activity evaluation—that is to say, what to make of the bits and pieces of evidence that may fall into the hands of the inspector-is in the hands of a Chinese official. So one has, I think, good reason to worry about whether an inspection arrangement, even if it is put in place, will in itself have the capability and the integrity that one would associate with a robust inspection arrangement.
Iraq is a very large country. My own view, and I am speaking personally throughout, but especially in this, my own view is even with a large and intrusive force, it is simply not possible to devise an inspection regime on territory controlled by Saddam Hussein that could be effective in locating, much less eliminating, his weapons of mass destruction.
In any case, the inspection regime known as the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) doesn't even come close. Its size, organization, and management and resources are all hopelessly inadequate for the daunting task of inspecting a country the size of France against Saddam's determined program of concealment, deception, and lying. The simple truth is that the inspectors will never find anything, the location of which has not been discovered through intelligence operations. Unless we can obtain information from defectors or by technical means that point the inspectors to specific sites, we are most unlikely to find what we are looking for.
We know, Mr. Chairman, that Saddam lies about his program to acquire nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. We know that he has used the years during which no inspectors were in Iraq to move everything of interest, with the result that the database he once possessed, inadequate though it was, has been destroyed. We know all this, yet, I sometimes think there are those at the United Nations who treat the issue not as a matter of life and death, but rather more like a game like pin the tail on the donkey or an Easter egg hunt on a Sunday afternoon.
The bottom line is this: Saddam is better at hiding than we are at finding, and this is not a game. If he eludes us and continues to refine, perfect, and expand his arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, the danger to us, which is already great, will only grow. If he achieves his holy grail and acquires one or more nuclear weapons, there is no way of knowing what predatory policies he will pursue.
Let us suppose that in the end, a robust inspection arrangement is put in place, and after a year or two it has found nothing. Could we conclude from the failure to unearth illegal activity that none existed? Of course not. All we would know is that we had failed to find what we were looking for, not that it was not there to be found. And, where would that leave us? Would we be safer or even more gravely imperiled? There would be a predictable clamor to end the inspection regime, and if they were still in place, to lift the sanctions. Saddam would claim not only that he was in compliance