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September 26, 2002

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 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.

The Committee has received a classified briefing from the Intelligence Community in each of the last three weeks, which we also opened up to all Members of the House in the last couple weeks. We also heard from former UNSCOM inspectors about Iraq's illicit weapons programs and Saddam Hussein's persistent efforts to thwart U.N. inspections.

And we heard from an Iraqi defector who ran Saddam's nuclear

weapons program; he told us how the Iraqis built and sustained their

weapons of mass destruction programs through the acquisition of

Westem technology, and how the United States' own export control

system may have contributed to the problems we are now facing with


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

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 is a Resident Fellow at the

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• General Wesley Clark, USA (ret.), is Managing Director,

Merchant Banking at the Stephens Group, Inc., and a former
Commander in Chief of U.S. European Command.

Gentlemen, thank you both for agreeing to appear today. We look forward to your testimony.

But before we begin, I want to invite Mr. Skelton, the Ranking Democrat on the Committee, to offer any comments he might have.

Thank you Mr.Skelton.

Mr. Perle, the floor is yours.

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 26, 2002

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for holding the series of

hearings on U.S. Policy Toward Iraq.

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 we here in Congress now face a serious responsibility to

craft a resolution that will empower the administration to disarm Iraq

and bring that nation into compliance with the requirements of many UN

resolutions. The hearing today can help us in this effort by helping us

consider whether force is now the only option. I believe that all

diplomatic efforts must be exhausted before we send American troops

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