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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

IRAQ (Senate - February 12, 1998)

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Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, I have sought recognition, and as the final speaker before we adjourn for a recess, I am going to comment about the situation in Iraq.

It had been my hope that the Congress might have addressed this issue. But it is obvious now that we will not. I think that the Congress--at least the Senate--is not addressing the issue because there is not clear-cut agreement in this body as to how to proceed.

My own view is that an air attack and a missile attack, if one is to be carried out, constitutes an act of war. And under the Constitution that requires Congressional authorization. The President is authorized as the Commander in Chief--and there is only one Commander in Chief, and it is obvious that where the 535 Members of the Congress cannot agree upon a program that we are not committed to be the executive. That is why we have an executive. But still the Constitution requires that war would be declared only by an act of Congress. And I think the international law interpretations make it plain that military action, like air attack or missile attack, does constitute an act of war.

I believe that we have not yet seen a clear definition of U.S. objectives as to what we are seeking to accomplish. My sense is that the American people are not prepared for what may occur.

I make it a practice, as I know the Chair does, of having open house town meetings. And I had three this week--on Monday in Cumberland County, Lebanon County, and Lancaster County, PA. There is great concern among my constituents--those whom I have talked to there and other places--of not having an idea as to precisely what we are going to accomplish.

It is my hope, if action is to be taken, that before any action is taken the President of the United States will address the American people and will identify the goals as he sees them and evaluate our likelihood of attaining those goals so that the people of the United States will be prepared and understand what is going to happen. But I do not see at this date how there can be public support for an attack in the absence of informing the American people, preparing them and having a public dialog on the subject. The Congress is speaking loudly by not speaking at all on a resolution to authorize the use of force against Iraq.

In 1991, on January 10, this body authorized the use of force. I was at the forefront arguing that force should be used at that time. We had an extended debate. The Congress--the Senate specifically--was complimented for having a classic debate on what our vital national interests were and how we should respond. I do believe that we have a vital national interest in what is going on in Iraq at the present time. I do believe that there are great dangers posed by Saddam Hussein and by his weapons of mass destruction.

I had an opportunity back in January of 1990--just 8 years ago on a trip with Senator Richard Shelby--to talk to Saddam Hussein. It is not an easy matter to deal with Saddam Hussein, as we have seen. There is some talk that Saddam Hussein ought to be toppled. But the air attacks, the missiles, and the planes will not accomplish that. It is plain at this juncture that there is no positioning of the kind of ground forces necessary to topple Saddam Hussein. Even as to the air attacks, it is plain that we will not destroy all of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.

The question is: How will Saddam Hussein come out of whatever military force we use? I am very much concerned that he may come out a martyr. Certainly the lack of support for the United States raises major questions as to how the rest of the world views this issue.

On my travels--and I have traveled extensively, Mr. President, in my capacity as Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee in the 104th Congress, and my work on the Foreign Operations Subcommittee--I have found that there is great admiration for the United States around the world. People all over the globe admire our economic achievements. They admire our values. They admire our freedom, and the success of our free enterprise system.

But there is also a touch of concern about abuse of power or excessive use of power, perhaps arrogance. And, we have to evaluate that very carefully in what we do as to Iraq.

I made a trip to the Mideast from late December to mid-January, and wherever I went I heard concerns about the projection of American power and concerns about the Iraqi civilian population, not Saddam Hussein, but concern about the Iraqi civilian population. It is an odd quirk of history that after the great success of the United States, the coalition put together by President Bush, which was a masterful job, President Bush is in Houston and Saddam is still in Baghdad running Iraq.

I have spoken with some frequency on the question of greater personal Presidential involvement in international dispute resolution, a subject that I have discussed personally with the President. It is my view that President Clinton can leave the Department of Agriculture to Secretary Glickman and the Department of the Interior to Secretary Babbitt, and so forth, but only the President of the United States can wield the enormous power that comes from the Presidency.

In 1995, Senator Brown and I spoke to Prime Minister Gowda of India, who said to us that he hoped the subcontinent could become nuclear free. The next day we passed that information on to Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan, who asked us if we had it in writing. We told her, of course, we did not. But we asked her when she had last talked to the Prime Minister of India. She said, `We don't talk.'

That night Senator Brown and I cabled President Clinton with those views fresh in our mind, urging the President to call those Prime Ministers to the Oval Office; nobody turns down an invitation to the Oval Office. And later talking to the President, he said, well, I intend to do that after I am re-elected. I have talked to him since, and it has not yet happened.

I think the President did an outstanding job, and I compliment him on the negotiations in the Mideast in the 1995 timeframe where the President and the Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, almost brokered an agreement between Syria and Israel. When I met with the President in mid-December before my trip to the Mideast, I urged him to become active again on that track of the peace process because I think the parties are very close.

I had a chance to talk to Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Assad in August-November of 1996, and they were pretty far apart. Prime Minister Netanyahu said that he wanted to resume peace negotiations but he had a new mandate, he wanted to start fresh. President Assad of Syria said that he would want to start negotiations but would want to pick up where he, or Syria, and Prime Minister Rabin left off before Prime Minister Rabin's assassination in November of 1995. In talking to them last month the words were about the same but the music was different.

I think that Presidential involvement there might find success, especially with the explicit condition that any agreement would be subject to ratification by the Israeli electorate on the Golan Heights, something about which only Israel could make a decision for themselves considering all the security factors, and the issue with the Palestinians much more difficult, the Israel-Palestine crack. But here I think personal Presidential involvement might be very successful. I think there has been the absence of that, where we find ourselves with only Great Britain at our side now as we look to action against Iraq. I have heard what the Secretary of Defense has had to say, and I have total respect and confidence in Secretary Cohen based on the 16 years that I worked with him in the Senate. But he alone cannot carry the Executive burden in this matter.

On the information at hand, we do not have the cooperation of others in a military attack. I think that has to be weighed very carefully. I do think that there are alternatives. I do think that the issue of a blockade is something that might bring Saddam Hussein, if not to his knees, to a greater economic impasse. It would be my hope that before action is taken which constitutes an

act of war, the issue would be debated by the Senate and by the House of Representatives and an appropriate resolution would be put before us to have the appropriate constitutional authorization.

I know that many of our colleagues have spoken on this matter in the course of the last several days, and as the last speaker in the Senate before we go to adjournment, I did want to make these comments for whatever consideration the President and the Executive may choose to make of them.

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Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, I did not have an opportunity yesterday after the Majority Leader announced the resolution of the proceedings as to the pending nomination of Judge Massiah-Jackson for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. I sought recognition to speak with unanimous consent for up to 1 minute, and there was an objection levied so I was not able to talk at that time.

I cannot limit my remarks to a single minute today because there are other things to be commented upon, but I believe that the referral of this matter to the Judiciary Committee is the appropriate course of conduct. Notwithstanding my continuing efforts to set forth the facts, my own personal activities have been grossly inaccurately reported.

First, it is President Clinton who has recommended Judge Massiah-Jackson for the Federal court. That is the President's nomination. It is not my nomination or the nomination of Senator Santorum. It is true that Massiah-Jackson was cleared by a nonpartisan panel appointed by Senator Santorum and me, but that approval does not involve any personal activity or action by either of the Senators.

Second, in my capacity as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and since Judge Massiah-Jackson is a constituent, I have vigorously sought to see that she received fair treatment, just as I did when the Judiciary Committee considered the nomination of Justice Clarence Thomas.

Third, I have made a public commitment to review all the matters submitted by her opponents before casting my vote on the Senate floor.

Fourth, I have been proactive in seeking all the facts against her confirmation as well as all of the facts of those who support her.

The charge has been made that I made a `deal' with the White House to appoint Judge Massiah-Jackson in exchange for the appointment of Judge Bruce Kauffman, who was sworn into the United States District Court on January 20. The facts are that I am party to an arrangement for Republicans to receive one nomination for the district courts for every three Democrats who are nominated, an arrangement identical with that now applicable to the State of New York. But I am not under any obligation to support any specific nominee, nor anybody submitted by the White House from the Democratic ranks. I am not under any obligation to support anyone, including Judge Massiah-Jackson, if I conclude the person is not qualified.

When Judge Massiah-Jackson's nomination was announced by the President on July 31, 1997, there were rumors of opposition, and in order to try to find out what the facts were in opposition, Senator Santorum, Senator Biden and I held a hearing in Philadelphia on October 3. All of the witnesses who testified favored Judge Massiah-Jackson, including five of her colleagues from the Common Pleas bench.

Mayor Rendell, who had been district attorney for 3 of her 7 years on the criminal bench, was enthusiastically in support of her nomination. Then the Judiciary Committee held its formal hearing on October 29, and again no witnesses opposed her. Senator Kyl, Senator Sessions and I questioned her closely on her record, and on November 6 she was reported out of the Committee by a vote of 12 to 6.

Thereafter, when district attorneys from Pennsylvania raised objections, Senator Santorum and I took a proactive position to meet those district attorneys, and we heard them out on January 23. I then arranged to get all of their opposing cases by January 30, with an opportunity for Judge Massiah-Jackson to respond, and that is what we await at the present time. As a matter of fundamental fairness, she is entitled to that hearing.

So, I think the Senate has taken the appropriate stand to have the hearing, and those who object will hear what Judge Massiah-Jackson has to say and then I, as a juror, along with my colleagues, will take a look at all of the facts and make a decision as to whether she is to be confirmed or whether she should be rejected. I thank the Chair for the courtesy and I yield the floor.

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