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Bush presses case against Iraq

The president and first lady arrive Sunday at the White House from Kennebunkport.
The president and first lady arrive Sunday at the White House from Kennebunkport.

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Facing growing pressure from Democrats, U.S. President Bush plans to address the American people to present his case against Iraq. CNN's Kelly Wallace reports (October 7)
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush plans to address the American people Monday to present his case against Iraq.

He returned Sunday to Washington after a weekend at his parents' home in Kennebunkport, Maine, where he worked on the speech, which is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.

Administration officials said Bush would lay out an extensive, detailed argument that Iraq is violating U.N. resolutions.

He was expected to discuss the role of U.N. weapons inspections and the U.S. argument that inspectors should not return to Iraq before the passage of a new Security Council resolution threatening the use of military force if Iraqi officials obstruct their work.

White House officials, however, said the speech would not reveal new evidence about Iraq's weapons programs.

Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Mississippi, said he hoped Bush would mention Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's repeated mistreatment of his people.

"I want him to enumerate the fact that Saddam Hussein, in instance after instance after instance, personally has killed people, violated all kinds of human rights and U.N. resolutions, and that he is the problem," Lott said on "Fox News Sunday."

"And it's going to be very hard to deal with the weapons of mass destruction without being prepared to deal with him."

Iraq denies having weapons of mass destruction, and its U.N. ambassador, Mohammed Aldouri, suggested Sunday his country could allow inspectors access even to the presidential sites not covered by last week's agreement with the U.N. weapons inspection team.

"I don't think that will be a huge problem between us and inspectors," Aldouri said on ABC's "This Week." "I don't think that we will have a problem on that question, on that issue. Certainly we can accommodate ourselves with the U.N. to have free access to presidential sites."

Lott says he wants Bush to present a broad case against Saddam Hussein.
Lott says he wants Bush to present a broad case against Saddam Hussein.

Under a 1998 agreement with the United Nations, inspectors could enter the presidential sites only with advance notice and the accompaniment of international diplomats.

The Bush administration tried Sunday to downplay concerns about the prospect of unilateral U.S. action against the Baghdad government.

Any attack likely would be conducted with the aid of a coalition of U.N. forces or a loosely knit coalition of U.S. allies, said White House press secretary Ari Fleischer.

"There's no longer a need to go it alone," Fleischer said.

Daschle wants changes in resolution

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota, said he wanted the measure under debate in the Senate to focus more narrowly on removing Saddam's nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs.

The Bush administration says Iraq is continuing to pursue such weapons in violation of numerous U.N. resolutions.

"The resolution as currently drafted cites 16 U.N. resolutions," Daschle told NBC's "Meet the Press." "Among the resolutions is the return of prisoners to Bahrain and the return of property to the Kuwaiti royals. Those are questionable reasons for use of force."

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, who opposes the measure, said the Senate was ignoring the potential consequences of a U.S.-Iraq conflict.

"We have to ask ourselves, are we going to be better off before the conflict or after the conflict -- let alone, how are we going to ever get out of Iraq? And if we go it alone, who's going to be there, stay there and pay the bill?" Kennedy told CBS' "Face the Nation."

"We have been discussing the resolutions We haven't debated the war," he said.

Division among Democrats

Kennedy's comments were a sign of the divisions within the Democratic Party. Daschle's House counterpart, Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, D-Missouri, and several leading senators -- including former vice presidential nominee Joseph Lieberman, D-Connecticut -- support the White House-backed resolution.

Lieberman called Saddam "a dangerous bully" who needed to be overthrown.

"We know for a fact that he has biological and chemical weapons, and he is developing a very unsettling capability to deliver those weapons to distant targets," Lieberman told CBS.

If Saddam were to become the region's dominant power, "that would be terrible for the Arab world, terrible for the Middle East and terrible for us," Lieberman said.

Many senators, including Daschle, predicted the resolution would pass by a wide margin.

"I believe that I have enough information -- that is, intelligence -- to make an informed decision this coming week on whether or not to support the president of the United States," Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, told CNN's "Late Edition."

"I'm going to support the president, and I believe there will be about 70 or 80 senators that will do the same."

Shelby, the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, discounted suggestions that Saddam could be overthrown by internal opponents before a U.S. attack became necessary.

"It's probably not going to happen, but it would be great if it did," he said.

CNN White House Correspondent Suzanne Malveaux contributed to this report.



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