House passes Iraq resolution, Sanders votes no

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(Host) The U.S. House gave its strong approval on Thursday to a resolution authorizing President Bush to take military action against Iraq. Congressman Bernie Sanders voted against the proposal.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) The House vote came after three long days of debate in which virtually every member of the chamber rose to speak on the issue. Sanders urged his colleagues to support a plan to give weapons inspectors from the United Nations complete access to Iraq to search for biological or nuclear weapons.

If Iraq made it impossible for the inspectors to do their work, Sanders said he would back the use of force if the military action was supported by the Security Council of the United Nations. Sanders argued that President Bush has failed to provide Congress with sufficient evidence to demonstrate that Iraq is planning an imminent attack that would threaten the security of this country:

(Sanders) “Mr. Speaker, the front page of the Washington Post today reported that all relevant U.S. intelligence agencies now say despite what we have heard from the White House, that “Saddam Hussein is unlikely to initiate a chemical or biological attack against the United States.” Even more importantly, our intelligence agencies say that – should Saddam conclude that the U.S. led attack could no longer be deterred – he might at that point launch a chemical or biological counter attack. In other words, there is more danger of an attack on the United States if we launch a precipitous invasion.”

(Kinzel) Sanders also says a unilateral attack by the United States against Iraq would set a terrible example for the rest of the world:

(Sanders) “I am deeply concerned about the precedent that a unilateral invasion of Iraq could establish in terms of international law and the role of the United Nations. If President Bush believes that the U.S. can go to war at any time against any nation what moral or legal obligation could our government raise if another country chose to do the same thing.”

(Kinzel) Sanders says he’s very disappointed that the debate over Iraq has overshadowed many critical issues facing the Congress such as health care, the economy and education.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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