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07 December 2001

Text: Nine Congress Members Call for Stepped up Action Against Iraq

(Legislators urge support for opposition forces inside Iraq) (1040)
Nine members of Congress have written a letter to President Bush,
urging the administration to step up support for the Iraqi opposition
to remove Saddam Hussein from power.
"This December will mark three years since United Nations inspectors
last visited Iraq. There is no doubt that since that time, Saddam
Hussein has reinvigorated his weapons program. Reports indicate that
biological, chemical and nuclear programs continue apace and may be
back to pre-Gulf war status," the letter, dated December 5, said.
The letter was signed by Senators John McCain, Jesse Helms, Richard
Shelby, Sam Brownback, Joe Lieberman, and Trent Lott, and by
Representatives Henry Hyde, Ben Gilman, and Harold Ford, Jr.
The legislators recommended that the administration begin immediately
"to assist the Iraqi opposition on the ground inside Iraq by providing
them money and assistance already authorized and appropriated."
Earlier in the week Representative Lindsey Graham (Republican of South
Carolina) introduced a resolution December 4 that would call refusal
by Iraq to admit United Nations weapons inspectors covered by Security
Council Resolution 687 "an act of aggression against the United States
and its allies."
White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer has indicated the Bush
administration is "keeping a close eye" on Saddam Hussein and the
dangers posed by the Iraqi weapons program. In a show of international
solidarity against the continued threats coming from Iraq, the
Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution November 29
continuing the oil-for-food program in Iraq for another six months.
The council also stated that it would adopt a procedure by May 30,
2002, that would have at its core a "goods review list" of items of
potential military use that would be subject to review by the
sanctions committee before being imported by Iraq, a program sought by
Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Following is the text of the letter:
(begin text)
December 5, 2001
The Honorable George W. Bush President of the United States The White
House Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
The events of September 11 have highlighted the vulnerability of the
United States to determined terrorists. As we work to clean up
Afghanistan and destroy al Qaeda, it is imperative that we plan to
eliminate the threat from Iraq.
This December will mark three years since United Nations inspectors
last visited Iraq. There is no doubt that since that time, Saddam
Hussein has reinvigorated his weapons programs. Reports indicate that
biological, chemical and nuclear programs continue apace and may be
back to pre-Gulf war status. In addition, Saddam continues to refine
delivery systems and is doubtless using the cover of a licit missile
program to develop longer-range missiles that will threaten the United
States and our allies.
For much of the last year, the Administration has struggled to plug
loopholes in the international sanctions against Iraq. Unfortunately,
efforts to coopt Saddam's illegal trading partners -- particularly
Syria -- have failed. In the meantime, the illegal oil trade from Iraq
has flourished, and Saddam now earns an estimated $2 billion annually,
much of which he has devoted to his military and his illegal weapons
programs.
If we have learned one thing from the ongoing battle in Afghanistan,
it is that working effectively in coordination with locals on the
ground can significantly leverage our own use of military farce. While
we have no doubt that in the long run, the United States will always
prevail in battle with the likes of the Taliban (not to speak of
Saddam Hussein), we also know that we can minimize casualties and
shorten conflict by cooperating with opposition forces. That has been
a key element of U.S. strategy for several decades.
Since the passage of the Iraq Liberation Act three years ago, we have
fought to provide support for Iraqis inside Iraq. The Iraqi National
Congress (INC), an umbrella group of all the significant anti-Saddam
forces inside Iraq, has consistently requested Administration
assistance for operations on the ground in Iraq ranging from the
delivery of humanitarian assistance and information-gathering to
military and technical training and lethal military drawdown.
Despite the express wishes of the Congress, the INC has been denied
U.S. assistance for any operations inside any part of Iraq, including
liberated Kurdish areas. Instead, successive Administrations have
funded conferences, offices and other intellectual exercises that have
done little more than expose the INC to accusations of being
"limousine insurgents" and "armchair guerillas". We note the troubling
similarity of these accusations to charges made against the Afghan
guerillas now helping us win the war against the Taliban.
The threat from Iraq is real, and it cannot be permanently contained.
For as long as Saddam Hussein is in power in Baghdad, he will seek to
acquire weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. We
have no doubt that these deadly weapons are intended for use against
the United States and its allies. Consequently, we believe we must
directly confront Saddam, sooner rather than later. Without allies on
the ground inside Iraq, we will be handicapping our own efforts. Each
day that passes costs us an opportunity to unite and professionalize
the Iraqi opposition, thus ensuring it will be less capable when the
conflict begins.
Again, we can learn from our experience in Afghanistan. We cannot be
drawn into the ethnic politics of any particular nation, but should
find a way to work with all the opposition in a unified framework. The
Iraqi National Congress is the only umbrella organization comprising
all elements of the Iraqi opposition. No one group is excluded, no one
group is favored.
Mr. President, all indications are that in the interest of our own
national security, Saddam Hussein must be removed from power. Let us
maximize the likelihood of a rapid victory by beginning immediately to
assist the Iraqi opposition on the ground inside Iraq by providing
them money and assistance already authorized and appropriated.
We look forward to working with you on this most important matter.
Sincerely,
(signed) John McCain
(signed) Jesse Helms
(signed) Henry Hyde
(signed) Richard Shelby
(signed) Harold Ford, Jr.
(signed) Joe Lieberman
(signed) Trend Lott
(signed) Ben Gilman
(signed) Sam Brownback
(end text)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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