Thurs., Oct. 3, 2002
"The House responded [to the call for a Homeland Security Department], but the Senate is more interested in special interests in Washington and not interested in the security of the American people. I will not accept a Department of Homeland Security that does not allow this president and future presidents to better keep the American people secure."
Two days later, as word of these remarks spread, Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle and Sen. Roberty Byrd (D-WV) took to the Senate floor to condemn Bush in the harshest words they could muster. Lot of feigned emotionalism. Lots of words like "outrageous." Demands for apologies. And so on.
Daschle expressed his extreme displeasure that Bush would politicize
the war. "We ought not politicize this war," he said more than once. It's
impossible to have any sympathy for this point of view or for Daschle.
The Bush team has done nothing but politicize the War On Terror since it
began (see Left
Hook!, Sept. 23), and
the Iraq situation appears to be little more than a political ploy on the
part of the White House. That the Republicans would exploit it on the campaign
trail was obvious from the start, and Democrats, who had to know this,
overwhelmingly supported Bush on every major initiative having to do with
these issues. If Daschle feels betrayed by Bush because of this,
he's a fool. What did he expect Bush to do? Campaign for Democrats? Bush's
campaigning isn't a stab in the back--it's a stab in the front. The Democrats
have refused to be an opposition party and have no basis for complaint
when Bush suggests that people should prefer Republicans who call themselves
Republicans over Republicans who dishonestly call themselves Democrats.
 The "President" called this--a trip made for no other purpose than to campaign for Forrester--a "business trip," meaning taxpayers picked up the bill for it.
 Bush now supports creation of a Department of Homeland Security, something he consistently opposed until only a few weeks ago. His present behavior raises the question of whether politics dictated his change of heart.
 Even on the issue that brought this to a head--creation of the Dept. of Homeland Security--Democrats have presented no opposition. They're in favor of Bush's nightmarish new department--they're simply wrangling over minor details.
In sharp contrast to Daschle, who fussed and fumed and, after putting on his show, can now reasonably be expected to once again back Bush on the next major initiative (approval for war in Iraq), the administration has made a real enemy of Sen. Robert Byrd. For those of us who would like to see at least some dissent in government over these issues, Byrd is an unfortunate choice for an enemy of the administration. In his youth, he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, and his political opponents have never let him forget it (nor should they). Dubbed the "Pope of Pork," he, many years ago, settled down into a quiet existence in the Senate, working on appropriations, making sure to direct plenty of pork-barrel towards his state, and not raising much of a fuss about anything. This probably makes him more of a detriment than an asset to the cause of those who want to see the questions he's raised addressed. He has raised the questions, though, and he at least deserves kudos for that.
On September 19, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld appeared before
the Senate Armed Services Committee for the purpose of rallying congress
behind the "President"'s Iraq policy. In the course of his testimony, he
was questioned by Senator Byrd about the support offered by the Reagan
and first Bush administrations to Iraq's biological warfare program. What
follows is a transcript of that exchange, annotated by I, your humble editor:
Sen. Byrd: Mr. Secretary, to your knowledge, did the United States help Iraq to acquire the building blocks of biological weapons during the Iran-Iraq War? Are we, in fact, now facing the possibility of reaping what we have sown?
Secretary Rumsfeld: Certainly not to my knowledge. I have no knowledge of United States companies or government being involved in assisting Iraq develop chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.
Byrd: Mr. Secretary, let me read to you from the September 23, 2002, Newsweek story. I read this, I read excerpts, because my time is limited:
"Some Reagan officials even saw Saddam as another Anwar Sadat, capable of making Iraq into a modern secular state, just as Sadat had tried to lift up Egypt before his assassination in 1981.
"But Saddam had to be rescued first. The war against Iran was going badly by 1982. Iran's 'human wave attacks' threatened to overrun Saddam's armies. Washington decided to give Iraq a helping hand.
"After Rumsfeld's visit to Baghdad in 1983, U.S. intelligence began supplying the Iraqi dictator with satellite photos showing Iranian deployments. Official documents suggest that America may also have secretly arranged for tanks and other military hardware to be shipped to Iraq in a swap deal--American tanks to Egypt, Egyptian tanks to Iraq. Over the protest of some Pentagon skeptics, the Reagan administration began allowing the Iraqis to buy a wide variety of 'dual use' equipment and materials from American suppliers. According to confidential Commerce Department export-control documents obtained by NEWSWEEK, the shopping list included a computerized database for Saddam's Interior Ministry (presumably to help keep track of political opponents); helicopters to transport Iraqi officials; television cameras for 'video surveillance applications'; chemical-analysis equipment for the Iraq Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC), and, most unsettling, numerous shipments of 'bacteria/fungi/protozoa' to the IAEC. According to former officials, the bacterial cultures could be used to make biological weapons, including anthrax. The State Department also approved the shipment of 1.5 million atropine injectors, for use against the effects of chemical weapons, but the Pentagon blocked the sale. The helicopters, some American officials later surmised, were used to spray poison gas on the Kurds.
"The United States almost certainly knew from its own satellite imagery that Saddam was using chemical weapons against Iranian troops. When Saddam bombed Kurdish rebels and civilians with a lethal cocktail of mustard gas, sarin, tabun and VX in 1988, the Reagan administration first blamed Iran, before acknowledging, under pressure from congressional Democrats, that the culprits were Saddam's own forces. There was only token official protest at the time. Saddam's men were unfazed. An Iraqi audiotape, later captured by the Kurds, records Saddam's cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid (known as Ali Chemical) talking to his fellow officers about gassing the Kurds. 'Who is going to say anything?' he asks. 'The international community? Fuck them!'
Now can this possibly be true? We already knew that Saddam was dangerous man at the time. I realize that you were not in public office at the time, but you were dispatched to Iraq by President Reagan to talk about the need to improve relations between Iraq and the U.S. Let me ask you again: To your knowledge did the United States help Iraq to acquire the building blocks of biological weapons during the Iran-Iraq war? Are we, in fact, now facing the possibility of reaping what we have sown?
The Washington Post reported this morning that the United States is stepping away from efforts to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention. I'll have a question on that later.
Let me ask you again: Did the United States help Iraq to acquire the building blocks of biological weapons during the Iran-Iraq War? Are we, in fact, now facing the possibility of reaping what we have sown?
Rumsfeld: I have not read the article. As you suggest, I was, for a period in late '83 and early '84, asked by President Reagan to serve as Middle East envoy after the Marines--241 Marines were killed in Beirut.
As part of my responsibilities I did visit Baghdad. I did meet with Mr. Tariq Aziz. And I did meet with Saddam Hussein and spent some time visiting with them about the war they were engaged in with Iran.
At the time our concern, of course, was Syria and Syria's role in Lebanon and Lebanon's role in the Middle East and the terrorist acts that were taking place.
As a private citizen I was assisting only for a period of months. I have never heard anything like what you've read, I have no knowledge of it whatsoever, and I doubt it.
Byrd: You doubt what?
Rumsfeld: The questions you posed as to whether the United States of America assisted Iraq with the elements that you listed in your reading of Newsweek and that we could conceivably now be reaping what we've sown.
I think--I doubt both.
Byrd: Are you surprised that this is what I've said? Are you surprised at this story in Newsweek?
Rumsfeld: I guess I'm at an age and circumstance in life where I'm no longer surprised about what I hear in the newspapers.
Byrd: That's not the question, I'm of that age, too. Somewhat older than you, but how about that story I've read?
Rumsfeld: I see stories stories all the time that are flat wrong. I just don't know. All I can say . . .
Byrd: How about this story? This story? How about this story, specifically?
Rumsfeld: As I say, I have not read it, I listened carefully to what you said and I doubt it.
Byrd: All right.
Now the Washington Post reported this morning that the United States is stepping away from efforts to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention. Are we not sending exactly the wrong signal to the world, at exactly the wrong time?
Doesn't this damage our credibility in the international community at the very time that we are seeking their support to neutralize the threat of Iraq's biological weapons program? If we supplied, as the Newsweek article said, if we supplied the building blocks for germ and chemical warfare to this madman in the first place, this psychopath, how do we look to the world to be backing away from this effort to control it at this point?
Rumsfeld: Senator, I think it would be a shame to leave this committee and the people listening with the impression that the United States assisted Iraq with chemical or biological weapons in the 1980s. I just do not believe that's the case.
Byrd: Well, are you saying that the Newsweek article is inaccurate?
Rumsfeld: I'm saying precisely what I said, that I didn't read the Newsweek article, but that I doubt it's accurate.
Byrd: I'll be glad to send you up a copy.
Rumsfeld: But that I was not in government at that time, except as a special envoy for a period of months. So one ought not to rely on me as the best source as to what happened in that mid-'80s period that you were describing.
I will say one other thing. On two occasions I believe when you read that article, you mentioned the IAEC, which as I recall is the International Atomic Energy Commission, and mentioned that if some of the things that you were talking about were provided to them, which I found quite confusing to be honest.
With respect to the Biological Weapons Convention, I was not aware that the United States government had taken a position with respect to it. It's not surprising because it's a matter for the Department of State, not the Department of Defense.
If in fact they have indicated, as The Washington Post reports, that they are not going to move forward with a--I believe it's an enforcement regime, it's not my place to iscuss the administration's position when I don't know what it is.
But I can tell you, from a personal standpoint, my recollection is that the biological convention never, never was anticipated that there would even be thought of to have an enforcement regime. And that an enforcement regime on something like that, where there are a lot of countries involved who are on the terrorist list who were participants in that convention, that the United States has, over a period of administrations, believed that it would not be a good idea, because the United States would be a net loser from an enforcement regime.
But that is not the administration's position. I just don't know what the administration's position is.
 That could have been the conclusion of Rumsfeld's testimony on the matter. No one honestly believes he hasn't looked into this issue, but he could get away with saying he has no first-hand knowledge of it. As Ronald Reagan's envoy to the Middle East, he was only peripherally in government at the time. A lot of the decisions in question occured outside of the Defense Department, at the Commerce and State Departments. He could have stopped on the point of no-firsthand-knowledge and left it at that. He doesn't, though.
 The Reagan administration did know this. On March 5, 1984, State Dept. spokesman John Hughes issued a statement flatly saying "the United States has concluded that the available evidence indicates that Iraq has used lethal chemical weapons." While offering a token condemnation--the administration "strongly condemns" this action--Hughes put the blame for this turn of events squarely on Iran for its "intransigent refusal to deviate from its avowed objective of eliminating the legitimate government of neighboring Iraq."
Less than three weeks later, Iraq learned how strongly the Reagan administration really condemned its actions. Rumsfeld returned to Iraq to meet with officials for the purpose of ironing out the details of normalized relations with Iraq. On March 24--the same day of Rumsfeld's visit--a United Nations team, investigating Iranian claims of Iraqi chemical and biological weapons use, concluded that Iraq had been using mustard gas laced with the nerve agent Tabun on Iranian forces.
The administration, while pressing forward with the normalization, made a brief show at home of imposing restrictions on exports of a handful of chemical compounds to Iraq. Even this farce is carried out with a tip of the hat--the same restrictions are imposed upon exports to Iran, which had never used them in its war.
Iraq used such weapons throughout the war with Iran, and the Reagan administration was not only aware of it--they were actively assisting it. As the New York Times reported on Aug. 18, 2002, the administration "provided Iraq with critical battle planning assistance at a time when American intelligence agencies knew that Iraqi commanders would employ chemical weapons in waging the decisive battles of the Iran-Iraq war." This wasn't a small program: "...more than 60 officers of the Defense Intelligence Agency were secretly providing detailed information on Iranian deployments, tactical planning for battles, plans for airstrikes and bomb-damage assessments for Iraq." One of the officers involved told the Times that chemical weapons "were integrated into their [the Iraqis] fire plan for any large operation, and it became more and more obvious." In addition, since at least January, 1985, the administration was approving, for export to Iraq, what author William Blum has described as "a veritable witch's brew of biological materials." A 1994 investigation by the Senate Banking Committee documented 70 shipments approved by the administration, containing some of the deadliest biological agents known to man. These went directly into the Iraqi biological weapons program. Testing conducted after Desert Storm showed the strains used in that program to be identical to those sent from the United States. The committee report made no pretense of being comprehensive. It only acquired records going back to Jan. 1985, and it's possible this was going on before that, and likely that it was much more extensive. It's telling enough to note that, within nine months of admitting Iraq was using weapons of mass destruction, the administration was providing the seed stock for such weapons to the Hussein regime. This continued, even after the gassing of the Kurds in 1988.
 Unmentioned here is that there was, in fact, a congressional effort to place sanctions on Iraq for the 1988 gassing of the Kurds. The effort was beaten back by the administration, which, by then, had been providing Iraq with biological materials for at least three years.
 Here, Rumsfeld's instincts kick in. He steps beyond his defensible no-firsthand-knowledge answer and begins suggesting that the story is phony. There follows an exchange where he denigrates the work of reporters in general and casts doubt on the Newsweek article.
 ...which is an entirely unfounded opinion, if, as he says, he has no first-hand knowledge. He doesn't want to leave people with the impression that the previous administrations did exactly what they did, which, of course, means he wants to leave them with a false impression.
 This was a mistake on the part of Rumsfeld, who confused the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Later in his testimony, he corrected the mistake.
 The exchange between Byrd and Rumsfeld ended with the Defense Secretary agreeing to review his department's records on the matter and requesting that the State and Commerce Deptartments do the same. Don't hold your breath waiting for those reports.
The leadership of the House of Representatives announced, yesterday, they had reached an agreement with the White House on the wording of a use-of-force resoution on Iraq. As expected, the Democratic leadership of the House is once again on board and presenting no opposition to the "President." The House "debate" may start as early as today.
The following is the agreed-upon wording for the resolution:
Whereas in 1990 in response to Iraq's war of aggression against and illegal occupation of Kuwait, the United States forged a coalition of nations to liberate Kuwait and its people in order to defend the national security of the United States and enforce United Nations Security Council resolutions relating to Iraq;
Whereas after the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, Iraq entered into a United Nations sponsored cease-fire agreement pursuant to which Iraq unequivocally agreed, among other things, to eliminate its nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs and the means to deliver and develop them, and to end its support for international terrorism;
Whereas the efforts of international weapons inspectors, United States intelligence agencies and Iraqi defectors led to the discovery that Iraq had large stockpiles of chemical weapons and a large scale biological weapons program, and that Iraq had an advanced nuclear weapons development program that was much closer to producing a nuclear weapon than intelligence reporting had previously indicated;
Whereas Iraq, in direct and flagrant violation of the cease-fire, attempted to thwart the efforts of weapons inspectors to identify and destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction stockpiles and development capabilities, which finally resulted in the withdrawal of inspectors from Iraq on October 31, 1998;
Whereas in 1998 Congress concluded that Iraq's continuing weapons of mass destruction programs threatened vital United States interests and international peace and security, declared Iraq to be in "material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations" and urged the president "to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations" (Public Law 105-235);
Whereas Iraq both poses a continuing threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region and remains in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations by, among other things, continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations;
Whereas Iraq persists in violating resolutions of the United Nations Security Council by continuing to engage in brutal repression of its civilian population thereby threatening international peace and security in the region, by refusing to release, repatriate or account for non-Iraqi citizens wrongfully detained by Iraq, including an American serviceman, and by failing to return property wrongfully seized by Iraq from Kuwait;
Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people;
Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its continuing hostility toward, and willingness to attack, the United States, including by attempting in 1993 to assassinate former President Bush and by firing on many thousands of occasions on United States and Coalition Armed Forces engaged in enforcing the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council;
Whereas members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq;
Whereas Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of American citizens;
Whereas the attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001 underscored the gravity of the threat posed by the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by international terrorist organizations;
Whereas Iraq's demonstrated capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction, the risk that the current Iraqi regime will either employ those weapons to launch a surprise attack against the United States or its Armed Forces or provide them to international terrorists who would do so, and the extreme magnitude of harm that would result to the United States and its citizens from such an attack, combine to justify action by the United States to defend itself;
Whereas United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 authorizes the use of all necessary means to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 660 and subsequent relevant resolutions and to compel Iraq to cease certain activities that threaten international peace and security, including the development of weapons of mass destruction and refusal or obstruction of United Nations weapons inspections in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687, repression of its civilian population in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 688, and threatening its neighbors or United Nations operations in Iraq in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 949;
Whereas Congress in the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1) has authorized the president "to use United States Armed Forces pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 (1990) in order to achieve implementation of Security Council Resolutions 660, 661, 662, 664, 665, 666, 667, 669, 670, 674, and 677";
Whereas in December 1991, Congress expressed its sense that it "supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 as being consistent with the Authorization of Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1)," that Iraq's repression of its civilian population violates United Nations Security Council Resolution 688 and "constitutes a continuing threat to the peace, security and stability of the Persian Gulf region," and that Congress "supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of United Nations Security Council Resolution 688";
Whereas the Iraq Liberation Act (Public Law 105-338) expressed the sense of Congress that it should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove from power the current Iraqi regime and promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime;
Whereas on September 12, 2002, President Bush committed the United States to "work with the United Nations Security Council to meet our common challenge" posed by Iraq and to "work for the necessary resolutions," while also making clear that "the Security Council resolutions will be enforced, and the just demands of peace and security will be met, or action will be unavoidable";
Whereas the United States is determined to prosecute the war on terrorism and Iraq's ongoing support for international terrorist groups combined with its development of weapons of mass destruction in direct violation of its obligations under the 1991 cease-fire and other United Nations Security Council resolutions make clear that it is in the national security interests of the United States and in furtherance of the war on terrorism that all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions be enforced, including through the use of force if necessary;
Whereas Congress has taken steps to pursue vigorously the war on terrorism through the provision of authorities and funding requested by the president to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001 or harbored such persons or organizations;
Whereas the president and Congress are determined to continue to take all appropriate actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations;
Whereas the president has authority under the Constitution to take action in order to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States, as Congress recognized in the joint resolution on Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40); and
Whereas it is in the national security of the United States to restore international peace and security to the Persian Gulf region;
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives
of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SEC. 1. SHORT TITLE
This joint resolution may be cited as the "Authorization for the Use
of Military Force Against Iraq."
SEC. 2. SUPPORT FOR UNITED STATES DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS
The Congress of the United States supports the efforts by the president to
(a) strictly enforce through the United Nations
all relevant Security Council resolutions applicable to Iraq and
encourages him in those efforts; and
(b) obtain prompt and decisive action by the
Security Council to
ensure that Iraq abandons its strategy of delay, evasion and
noncompliance and promptly and strictly complies with all
relevant Security Council resolutions.
SEC. 3. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES
(a) AUTHORIZATION. The president is authorized
to use the Armed
Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and
appropriate in order to
(1) defend the
national security of the United States
against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and
(2) enforce all
relevant United Nations Security Council
Resolutions regarding Iraq.
(b) PRESIDENTIAL DETERMINATION. In connection
exercise of the authority granted in subsection (a) to use force, the
president shall, prior to such exercise or as soon there after as
may be feasible, but no later than 48 hours after exercising such
authority, make available to the Speaker of the House of
Representatives and the president pro tempore of the Senate his
by the United States on further diplomatic or
other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately
protect the national security of the United States against
the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to
lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security
Council resolutions regarding Iraq, and
(2) acting pursuant
to this resolution is consistent with
the United States and other countries continuing to take the
necessary actions against international terrorists and
terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations
or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the
terrorists attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.
(c) WAR POWERS RESOLUTION REQUIREMENTS.
Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution,
the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute
specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section
5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.
OF OTHER REQUIREMENTS. Nothing
in this resolution supersedes any requirement of the War Powers
SEC. 4. REPORTS TO CONGRESS
(a) The president shall, at least once every
60 days, submit to
the Congress a report on matters relevant to this joint
resolution, including actions taken pursuant to the exercise of
authority granted in Section 2 and the status of planning for
efforts that are expected to be required after such actions are
completed, including those actions described in section 7 of
Public Law 105-338 (the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998).
(b) To the extent that the submission of any
report described in
subsection (a) coincides with the submission of any other report
on matters relevant to this joint resolution otherwise required
to be submitted to Congress pursuant to the reporting
requirements of Public Law 93-148 (the War Powers Resolution),
all such reports may be submitted as a single consolidated report
to the Congress.
(c) To the extent that the information required
by Section 3 of
Public Law 102-1 is included in the report required by this
section, such report shall be considered as meeting the
requirements of section 3 of Public Law 102-1.
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