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Congressional reaction varies on Iraqi strike

Kucinich: "Iraq does not pose an imminent threat to the United States of any of its neighboring nations."

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Members of Congress reacted very differently Wednesday night to the start of war in Iraq, with one leading critic calling it a "sad day" and a supporter of President Bush's Iraq policy calling it a "task of high justice."

Military officials said U.S. satellite-guided Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from U.S. warships in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, and U.S. F-117 Stealth fighters were involved in the attack which targeted sites in and south of Baghdad. The strike was -- at least in part -- a "decapitation strike" to take out Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Pentagon sources told CNN.

"This is a sad day for America, the world community, and the people of Iraq," Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, said in a written statement issued shortly after Bush announced that the "opening stages" of Iraq's disarmament had begun.

Kucinich, a 2004 presidential hopeful and a leading House opponent of war with Iraq, said Bush had launched an unprovoked attack against another country.

"Iraq does not pose an imminent threat to the United States of any of its neighboring nations," he wrote. "Iraq was not responsible for the terrorist attacks of September 11.

"Tonight President Bush has commanded U.S. forces to go to war in violation of American traditions of defensive war that have lasted since George Washington. This war is wrong; it violates the Constitution and international law."

In contrast, House Speaker Rep. Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois, compared the start of hostilities with the June 6, 1944 invasion of Normandy, France, saying the March 19 action by American forces is a "noble mission to free the Iraqi people from an evil tyrant."

"I am proud of our president, our troops, and our allies," Hastert said. "Yes, we are fighting to preserve our national security. But we are also fighting to preserve the universal ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Hastert said Saddam, "with his brutal track record, will do his worst and that we will do our best." He asked for prayers for the safety of U.S. service members.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Connecticut, who has been one of Bush's staunchest Democratic supporters of a war on Iraq, said the strike "is a task of high justice and necessity."

"What we are doing here is not only in the interest and the safety of the American people," Lieberman told CNN, "but what we are doing here in overthrowing Saddam and removing those weapons of mass destruction, taking them into our control, is good for the entire world. It is not a selfish task."

Lieberman, also a presidential hopeful, described Saddam as an "evil dictator" who will hurt many Americans if given the chance.

"If it becomes clear that he is gone, then you have to ask, 'What's the motivation for all those in the Iraqi military to continue to fight us?' We're offering a better way."

Lieberman said the "optimal situation" would be for airstrikes to work and for coalition ground forces then to enter Baghdad.

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