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US Lawmakers Debate Plans To Overthrow Saddam - 2002-08-11

A day after President Bush played down talk of invading Iraq, members of Congress weighed in on the prospect of overthrowing Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

As the White House tries to make up its mind whether the United States should invade Iraq, a country the president said Saturday is actively in pursuit of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, some U.S. lawmakers are casting a wary eye.

Democratic Senator Carl Levin is chairman of the Armed Services Committee. In an appearance Sunday on the NBC television program Meet the Press," he said the United States should look at all options with regard to Iraq and should not provoke Saddam.

"He would not, in my judgement, initiate an attack with a weapon of mass destruction because it would lead to his own destruction if he did that. He's a survivalist. He's not a suicide bomber," he said.

But Republican Senator Fred Thompson favors invading Iraq. Senator Thompson is not impressed with Iraq's recent overture allowing the return of United Nations weapons inspectors to his country, saying it could further the Iraqi strongman's goals.

"There's no way in the world that we could effectively discover and do anything with what he's got there," he said. "And it would buy him another couple or three years to do what he really wants to do."

Meanwhile, Saudi officials said Sunday that they will not allow Saudi Arabia to be used as a staging ground for any invasion against Iraq. They say they want the United States to pursue non-military options in a dispute with Iraq.