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Congressional Democrats Call For International Coalition on Iraq - 2003-01-27

U.S. Congressional Democrats are criticizing U.S. policy toward Iraq, and urging President Bush not to launch a war against Baghdad, without support of an international coalition. Their comments come as the U.N. Security Council assesses a report on U.N. arms inspections in Iraq, and as President Bush prepares to address the Iraq issue in his State of the Union address Tuesday.

As details of the U.N. weapons inspectors' report become public, U.S. lawmakers are expressing concern about some of the findings.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, said she is concerned about Iraq refusing to allow flights by U-2 spy planes over the country. "What concerned me most about it was that Iraq has not granted permission for the U-2 flights, and aerial reconnaissance is critical to any kind of arms inspection. We know, or we think we know, there are at least seven mobile biological-chemical laboratories that can be moved around. The only way to get at that is through aerial reconnaissance. So, that becomes, in my view, a consequential failing," she said.

At the same time, Senator Feinstein, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, believes the United States should not attack Iraq unilaterally to force it to disarm. She and other Congressional Democrats argue there is no alternative to cooperating with the U.N. Security Council.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said the United States would go to war against Iraq alone, if reluctant allies would not join the fight.

Some Democrats, like Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota, say, if President Bush has intelligence showing Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, he should share it with the world.

In a Washington speech, Mr. Daschle questioned whether a possible war against Iraq would set back the U.S.-led war on terrorism. "The ultimate principle should be this: Will invading Iraq, and taking out Saddam make America and our friends more secure? If we invade, only to depart, leaving an open wound behind us, the suffering will be used by extremists to inflame more hatred and recruit more terrorists. In the end, we could win the war in Iraq, lose a battle against terrorism, and leave America less secure," Mr. Daschle said.

While many Democrats are urging more time be given to weapons inspectors in Iraq, Republicans share the administration view that time is running out for Iraq to avoid war.

Congressman Henry Hyde of Illinois, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, said Iraq has failed to declare its weapons and help U.N. inspectors destroy them, or verify their prior destruction.

In a reference to German and French opposition to a possible war against Iraq, Mr. Hyde released the following written statement: "The fact that no amount of evidence of Iraq's bad faith will ever be enough for some members of the international community should not stop that community, and cannot stop the United States, from acting to defend its interests."