Democratic congressman asserts Bush would mislead U.S. on Iraq
Date: Monday, September 30 @ 16:36:39 UTC
Topic: Stop Bush
By John H. Cushman Jr., New York Times
WASHINGTON — Democratic congressmen who are visiting Iraq this week stirred up anger among some Republicans when they questioned the reasons President Bush has used to justify possible military action against Iraq.
One of the congressmen, Representative Jim McDermott of Washington State, said today that he thought President Bush was willing "to mislead the American people" about whether the war was needed and that the administration had gone back and forth between citing supposed links between Iraq and the terrorist network Al Qaeda and Iraq's supposed attempts to obtain weapons of mass destruction.
Mr. McDermott and Representative David E. Bonior of Michigan also said it might still be possible to work out a new inspection approach that would satisfy the Iraqis but fall short of what Mr. Bush wants.
The two Democrats' strong comments about a foreign policy matter while traveling abroad drew rebukes from Republicans at a time when the political furor over Iraq and over a bill on domestic security has sharply divided leaders of the two parties.
They spoke on the ABC News program "This Week" and in other broadcast interviews.
Senator Don Nickles, Republican of Oklahoma, who is the party's assistant leader in the Senate, said Mr. McDermott and Mr. Bonior "both sound somewhat like spokespersons for the Iraqi government." He said it was "counterproductive" to undermine Mr. Bush when he was seeking support from allies.
Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, was gentler. "As long as they're careful what they say and what they do, then I think it's fine," he said. "But all of us should keep in mind that foreign affairs, national security issues, etc., are generally handled by the executive branch, with the advice and consent of the Congress."
Speaking of the administration, Mr. McDermott said, "I believe that sometimes they give out misinformation." Then he added: "It would not surprise me if they came up with some information that is not provable, and they've shifted. First they said it was Al Qaeda, then they said it was weapons of mass destruction. Now they're going back and saying it's Al Qaeda again."
When pressed for evidence about whether President Bush had lied, Mr. McDermott said, "I think the president would mislead the American people." But he said he believed that inspections of Iraq's weapons programs could be worked out.
"I think they will come up with a regime that will not require coercive inspections," Mr. McDermott said, anticipating meetings on Monday between Hans Blix, the leader of the United Nations inspection group, and Iraqi officials.
"They said they would allow us to go look anywhere we wanted," he said of the Iraqis. "And until they don't do that, there is no need to do this coercive stuff where you bring in helicopters and armed people and storm buildings."
"Otherwise you're just trying to provoke them into war," he added.
Mr. Bonior, the second-ranking Democrat in the House, said: "We've got to move forward in a way that's fair and impartial. That means not having the United States or the Iraqis dictate the rules to these inspections."
Copyright The New York Times Company
Reprinted from The New York Times: