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Doves Step Up Efforts to Halt March to War
Published on Thursday, March 13, 2003 by the San Francisco Chronicle
Doves Step Up Efforts to Halt March to War
by Edward Epstein

WASHINGTON -- As war apparently draws nearer, anti-war members of Congress led by Rep. Barbara Lee of Oakland outlined their last-ditch bid on Wednesday to reopen debate on whether the United States should attack Iraq.

Lee's vehicle, the latest in a host of anti-war resolutions that the leadership of both houses has refused to take up, is the introduction of a nonbinding resolution that would put the House on record as opposing so-called wars of pre-emption.

Lee and other anti-war House members admit there isn't much they can do to stop a war against Iraq, but they plan to hold more press conferences and try parliamentary maneuvers to force debate on the House and Senate floors.

President Bush's supporters say Congress spoke on the issue in October when the House voted 296-133 and the Senate 77-23 to authorize the president to use military force against Iraq. They argue that Saddam Hussein is still refusing to obey United Nations Resolution 1441 calling for Iraq to disarm.

Calling the president's justification for a pre-emptive attack against Hussein's regime "a statement of extreme arrogance and illegality," Lee said at a Capitol press conference that the Bush doctrine "undermines any moral authority of the United States in seeking peaceful resolution of any conflicts. "

One of her co-sponsors, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, was active on two fronts Wednesday. A lawsuit he and 14 other House members filed in U.S. District Court in Boston claiming Bush doesn't have the right to go to war without an express declaration from Congress was reinstated by an appeals court after a judge had thrown it out.

Last week, Kucinich filed a House "resolution of inquiry," asking that Bush be required to turn over to the House all 12,000 classified pages of Iraq's report on its weapons of mass destruction that Hussein's regime gave the United Nations in December. Last Friday, the administration quietly handed the report to the House Select Intelligence Committee, and most House members can see it as long as they keep its contents secret.

It's unclear whether Kucinich can view it, however. He, Rep. Pete Stark, D- Fremont, and Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., have refused to sign the pledge of confidentiality required of all members if they want to see classified material.

"I'm checking if I can get access," Kucinich said. "I think the American people will want to see it."

On Wednesday, the House International Relations Committee sent Kucinich's resolution to the full House, even though it is a moot point. Leaders made it clear that any floor debate must be limited to the resolution's specifics and cannot include a wider debate on Iraq policy.

Lee's proposal, which she introduced with more than a dozen House Democrats as co-sponsors, joins other bills recently introduced to try to forestall the move toward war. These include a proposal to repeal October's vote. Among the co-sponsors are Lee, Stark, Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, and Rep. Sam Farr, D-Carmel.

Sens. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., and Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., have a similar bill in the Senate.

One member who voted for the resolution in October, Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D- Walnut Creek, has introduced a bill calling on Bush to make a full report to Congress before he launches an attack. And California's two senators, Barbara Boxer -- who voted against October's resolution -- and Dianne Feinstein -- who supported it -- put forward a resolution calling for U.N. inspectors to get more time to complete their work.

Bush has left little doubt that he intends to act against Hussein and feels fully justified in doing so. "We are determined to confront threats wherever they arise," he said at his press conference last Thursday. "I will not leave the American people at the mercy of the Iraqi dictator and his weapons."

©2003 San Francisco Chronicle


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