Debate heats up within GOP over Iraq, Saddam

Monday, August 26, 2002

WASHINGTON -- Republicans sounded a mixed message Sunday for President Bush about whether, when and how to use military action to remove Saddam Hussein from power.

Invade right away, after telling Congress, was one course. A second would have Bush wait for a better assessment of the Iraqi president's danger to American security, then hold off until lawmakers gave their approval.

Some Republicans want Bush to get U.N. authorization before moving, probably after giving Saddam an ultimatum to allow more inspections for weapons of mass destruction, which he would be expected to refuse.

Bush did not expect such divergence among leading Republicans, which broke into the open in recent weeks from lawmakers including Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Rep. Dick Armey of Texas, the House majority leader.

The Bush administration's policy is that Saddam is trying to develop weapons of mass destruction and is refusing to allow international inspectors to find and destroy them, as Iraq agreed to do after the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

DeLay urges action

Rep. Tom DeLay, the heir apparent to Armey in the House, who has urged military action, "the sooner, the better," said Sunday the decision to act is the commander in chief's, but he expects Bush to consult with Congress first.

"The president says he's going to consult with the Congress, and he has. The president has taken the advice of many of us in Congress; he wants input from Congress," DeLay, R-Texas, said on "Fox News Sunday."

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