Leahy speaks against Congressional resolution on Iraq

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(Host) Senator Patrick Leahy says the Bush administration has not made a compelling case to invade Iraq to the American people. Leahy also says it’s mistake for Congress to vote on this issue until the United Nations sends weapons inspectors to Iraq.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) Senator Patrick Leahy went on the floor of the United States Senate on Thursday to voice strong concerns about the way the Bush administration is dealing with Iraq.

Leahy says the administration wants Congress to support a resolution that will basically allow the president to take whatever action Bush thinks is necessary to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Leahy says backing that kind of proposal is a big mistake:

(Leahy) “As history has shown, wars inevitably have unforeseen terrible consequences. Blank check resolutions such as the one the president proposes can likewise be misinterpreted or used in ways that we do not intend or expect. That is why a thorough debate is necessary and that is why this Vermonter will never vote for a blank check for this president or any president. My conscience and the Constitution do not allow that.”

(Kinzel) Leahy says the president has not presented enough evidence to Congress to support the claim that Iraq has the capability to use biological or nuclear weapons. And Leahy thinks Congress should allow the United Nations to proceed on this issue before Senators vote on any resolution giving the president the authority to take any actions:

(Leahy) “If Iraq does resist the inspections and then the president decides to use military force, the procedure is clear: He can seek a declaration of war from the Congress and the Congress can vote. But voting to go to war today would be premature and it would be a great mistake. A decision to invade Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein should be based on an honest assessment of Iraq’s arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and the threat they pose.”

(Kinzel) Leahy says he’s concerned that a premature invasion of Iraq will set off a chain of violence that could have a rippling effect throughout the Middle East.

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

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