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Powell, Members of Congress Address Press

Aired October 8, 2002 - 12:54   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The secretary of state, Colin Powell, has been meeting with senators on Capitol Hill. He's speaking now, flanked by, as you can see, Senator Lieberman and Senator McCain, Senator Warner.
Let's listen.


COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, ladies and gentlemen, it's a great pleasure for me to be up here this afternoon to meet with Senator Lieberman and Senator Warner and Senator McCain and Senator Bayh and also be joined by Senator Allard to express my appreciate for the fine work they have done in moving this resolution forward.

It's a resolution that I think will draw a very, very solid, strong, overwhelming bipartisan and bicameral support. It's a resolution that will definitely strengthen my hand as I try to do the diplomatic work up in New York to get a U.N. Security Council resolution.

I think the resolution is timely, and we need it now. We need it now because the president has laid the challenge squarely before the world and then again last night squarely before the American people.

We're faced with a dangerous situation. We're faced with a regime which has ignored U.N. resolutions for these many years and will continue to ignore them unless they are dealt with now.

The president has said he is not looking for war. He has given the United Nations and opportunity to find a peaceful solution. He has given Iraq an opportunity to find a peaceful solution.

But the one thing that cannot be tolerated is that Iraq continues to have weapons of mass destruction. Iraq will be disarmed, one way or another. All of my colleagues at the United Nations and others I've spoken to around the world clearly see the threat. And I think there is increasing support for a U.N. resolution which puts in place a much stronger inspection mandate, and I think there is a clear understanding of the fact that the only reason Iraq is trying to respond now is because the threat of force is there.

And we have to keep that in place. We have to make sure they understand there are consequences if they fail to act this time.

So our strategy is straight forward, and our strategy frankly requires the kind of strong resolution that is now being debated on both the House floor and the Senate floor. And I want to express once again my thanks to the gentlemen who are here with me this afternoon and all of the others in the Congress who are supporting the resolution, a resolution that was discussed with the leadership.

The president put forward some ideas. Some ideas came back, and now, we're all unified behind this resolution, and I'm sure it will win overwhelming support in both the House and the Senate.

Thank you very much.

SENATOR JOE LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: Very briefly, I thank Secretary Powell for the opportunity to meet with him, and for the strong leadership he has given America's cause and the world's cause in the diplomacy at the United Nations and capitals throughout the world.

And I think that Secretary Powell's diplomatic leadership punctuates the point that all four of us cosponsors of this resolution have made repeatedly, including this morning on the floor, and that the president made last night in his remarks in Cincinnati, war is the last resort.

But over the last 11 years, the world community has tried just about everything else to get Saddam Hussein to keep the promise to disarm that he made to achieve an end to the Gulf War. We've tried inspections. We've tried sanctions. We've tried oil-for-food. We've tried limited military action, and they haven't worked.

And that is why, in this resolution, we are essentially authorizing the president and hopefully the United Nations to say to Saddam Hussein, "Disarm or we will be forced to make war against you to achieve the disarmament that you promised at the end of the Gulf War."

Mr. Secretary, I want to say to you that we have offered the bipartisan resolution that we negotiated with the administration this morning in the Senate. We're having a very good thoughtful debate as befits a matter of life and death, literally.

But I want to express to you what I believe is the opinion of my colleagues here: Our confidence that, when the roll is called on this bipartisan resolution, there will be overwhelming bipartisan support to give the president as commander in chief the authority we believe he needs to protect America's security.

Thank you very much.

SENATOR JOHN WARNER (R), VIRGINIA: We are proud to have our secretary here. He has done noble work before the United Nations. And we discussed the optimism that I believe you now hold, Mr. Secretary.

So Senator Bayh, will you say a word or two?


I'd make three brief points. First, we support this resolution, not because we favor war, but because we believe this offers our best hope of maintaining the peace.

Secondly, we support this resolution, not because we prefer that America act alone, but because this resolution gives us the best opportunity to rally our allies and gather the support of the United Nations for the course of action we believe to be just and right.

And finally, I would say, that we support this resolution because of the lessons learned on September the 11th, the principle one being that we waited too long to deal with a gathering threat in Afghanistan. And because of that, 3,000 innocent Americans lost their lives. We must not make that mistake again.

All the arguments being offered against this resolution would have been made if we had recommended taking action against Afghanistan two years ago. Those arguments would have been wrong then; they're wrong today.

So I'm pleased to join with my colleagues on a bipartisan basis with the leadership of the administration in supporting this resolution because it's in the best interest of the American people.

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It's very important to the American people that we go through this process, a process of debate and a resolution of approval on the part of both houses of Congress, which as my colleagues said, will be overwhelming.

They also expect the secretary of state to do his job, which he is doing in outstanding fashion with the United Nations to get a resolution from the Security Council. Then the American people will be confident that we have taken every step necessary to build consensus and have done everything we can to avoid conflict if that occasion should arise. They will be confident that we've done everything to avoid a war, but at the same time if the president has to take military action, he will have the support of the American people and the United Nations.

WARNER: We'll now join the secretary in responding to questions.

BLITZER: Secretary of state Colin Powell getting a strong bipartisan endorsement for President Bush's speech, also for the president's effort to pass a strongly-worded resolution in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives that would give him the authority to use force if necessary against Saddam Hussein and Iraq. That debate continuing now on Capitol Hill, but by all accounts, there will be a lopsided margin of support for the president's stance once the dust settles in the House as well as in the Senate.


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