Senator Byrd breaks ranks on Iraq--forwarded from Dave McReynolds

Fred Feldman ffeldman at
Sun Sep 22 14:26:15 MDT 2002

Breaks in the ranks - there is still hope of "containing Bush". . . David

Bush's War Plans are a Cover-Up, Byrd Says

 The Charleston Gazette
 By Paul J. Nyden
 September 22, 2002

 Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., said President Bush's plans to invade Iraq
 a conscious effort to distract public attention from growing problems at

 "This administration, all of a sudden, wants to go to war with Iraq," Byrd
 said. "The [political] polls are dropping, the domestic situation has
 problems.... So all of a sudden we have this war talk, war fervor, the
 bugles of war, drums of war, clouds of war.

 "Don't tell me that things suddenly went wrong. Back in August, the
 president had no plans.... Then all of a sudden this country is going to
 war," Byrd told the Senate on Friday.

 "Are politicians talking about the domestic situation, the stock market,
 weaknesses in the economy, jobs that are being lost, housing problems? No."

 Byrd warned of another Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. Passed on Aug. 7, 1964,
 that resolution handed President Lyndon Johnson broad powers to escalate
 war in Vietnam, a conflict that cost 58,202 American lives and millions of
 Asian lives.

 "Congress will be putting itself on the sidelines," Byrd told the Senate.
 "Nothing would please this president more than having such a blank check
 handed to him."

 Byrd said his belief in the Constitution will prevent him from voting for
 Bush's war resolution. "But I am finding that the Constitution is
 to people of this administration."

 Sens. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., both praised Byrd
 after he spoke.

 "It is the height of patriotism to ask such hard questions," Clinton said.
 "No one exemplifies that more than the senior senator from West Virginia."

 Byrd said, "Before the nation is committed to war, before we send our sons
 and daughters to battle in faraway lands, there are critical questions that
 must be asked. To date, the answers from the administration have been less
 than satisfying."

 Byrd repeatedly said Bush has failed to give members of Congress any
 evidence about any immediate danger from Iraq. Byrd also criticized his
 speech to the United Nations.

 "Instead of offering compelling evidence that the Iraqi regime had taken
 steps to advance its weapons program, the president offered the U.N. more
 a warning than an appeal for support.

 "Instead of using the forum of the U.N. General Assembly to offer evidence
 and proof of his claims, the president basically told the nations of the
 world that you are either with me, or against me," Byrd said.

 "We must not be hell-bent on an invasion until we have exhausted every
 possible option to assess and eliminate Iraq's supposed weapons of mass
 destruction program. We must not act alone. We must have the support of the

 Byrd said Congress needs solid evidence and answers to several specific
 questions, including:

 Does Saddam Hussein pose an imminent threat to the U.S.?
 Should the United States act alone?
 What would be the repercussions in the Middle East and around the globe?
 How many civilians would die in Iraq?
 How many American forces would be involved?
 How do we afford this war?
 Will the U.S. respond with nuclear weapons if Saddam Hussein uses chemical
 or biological weapons against U.S. soldiers?
 Does the U.S. have enough military and intelligence resources to fight wars
 in Afghanistan and Iraq, while mobilizing resources to prevent attacks on
 our own shores?
 Byrd said the proposed resolution Bush sent Congress on Thursday would be
 the "broadest possible grant of war powers to any president in the history
 of our Republic. The resolution is a direct insult and an affront to the
 powers given to Congress."

 Byrd also criticized Bush's request for power to carry out "pre-emptive
 attacks" and send troops to Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, the West
 and anywhere else in the Middle East.

 "I cannot believe the gall and the arrogance of the White House in
 requesting such a broad grant of war powers," Byrd said. "This is the worst
 kind of election-year politics."

 To contact staff writer Paul J. Nyden, use e-mail or call 348-5164.


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