News

Senate Unanimously Passes Iraq Liberation Act, Oct 7

Iraq News, October 9, 1998

By Laurie Mylroie

The central focus of Iraq News is the tension between the considerable, proscribed WMD capabilities that Iraq is holding on to and its increasing stridency that it has complied with UNSCR 687 and it is time to lift sanctions. If you wish to receive Iraq News by email, a service which includes full-text of news reports not archived here, send your request to Laurie Mylroie .




NB: On Oct 5, the House passed the "Iraq Liberation Act of 1998" by an 
overwhelming majority [see "Iraq News" Oct 6] and the Senate passed it 
unanimously Oct 7.  

October 7, 1998
CONGRESSIONAL RECORD - SENATE ESTABLISHING A PROGRAM SUPPORT A 
TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ
Mr. McCAIN: I ask unanimous consent that the Senate now proceed to the 
consideration of H.R. 4655, which is at the desk.
The PRESIDING OFFICER: The clerk will report. The assistant legislative 
clerk read as follows:
A bill (H.R. 4665) to establish a program to  support a transition to 
democracy in Iraq.
The PRESIDING OFFICER:  Is there objection to the immediate 
consideration of the bill, There being no objection, the Senate 
proceeded to consider the bill.
Mr. LOTT: Mr. President, I am pleased the Senate is about to act on H.R. 
4655, the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998. I introduced companion 
legislation, S. 2525, last week with 7 co-sponsors. Last Friday, the 
House International Relations Committee marked up the legislation and 
made only minor, technical changes. On October 5, the House passed H.R. 
4655 by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 360 to 38. That vote, and 
our vote in several moments, is a strong demonstration of Congressional 
support for a new policy toward Iraq--a policy that overtly seeks the 
replacement of Saddam Hussein's regime through military and political 
support for the Iraq opposition.
  The United States has many means at its disposal to support the 
liberation of Iraq.  At the height of the Cold War, we supported freedom 
fighters In Asia, Africa and Latin America willing to fight and die for 
a democratic future. We can and should do the same now in Iraq.
  The Clinton Administration regularly calls for bipartisanship in 
foreign policy. I support them when I can. Today, we see a clear example 
of a policy that has the broadest possible bi-partisan support. I know 
the Administration understands the depth of our feeling on this issue. I 
think they are beginning to understand the strategic argument in favor 
of moving beyond containment to a policy of "rollback." Containment is 
not sustainable. Pressure to lift sanctions on Iraq is increasing-- 
despite Iraq's seven years of refusal to comply with the terms of the 
Gulf War cease-fire. Our interests in the Middle East cannot be 
protected with Saddam Husslen in power. Our legislation provides a 
roadmap to achieve our objective.
  This year, Congress has already provided $5 million to support the 
Iraqi political opposition. We provided $5 million to establish Radio 
Free Iraq. We will provide additional resources for political support in 
the FY 1999 foreign Operations Appropriations Act, including $3 million 
for the Iraqi National Congress.
   Enactment of this bill will go farther. It requires the President to 
designate at least one Iraqi opposition group to receive U.S. military 
assist-ance. It defines eligibility criteria such a group or groups must 
meet. Many of us have ideas on how the designation process should work. 
I have repeatedly stated that the Iraqi National Congress has been 
effective in the past and can be effective in the future. They 
represent the broadest possible base of the opposition. There are other 
groups that are currently active inside Iraq: the Patriotic Union of 
Kurdistan, the Kurdish Democratic Party and the Supreme Council for the 
Islamic Revolution in Iraq. The State Department seems to believe there 
are more than 70 opposition groups, many of which do not meet the 
criteria in H.R. 4655.  Many barely even exist or have no political 
base.  They should not be considered for support.  We should also be 
very careful about considering designation of groups which do not share 
our values or which are simply creations of external forces or exile 
politics, such as the Iraqi Communist Party or the Iraqi National 
Accord.
  I appreciate the work we have been able to do with the Administration 
on this legislation. But we should be very clear about the designation 
process. We intend to exercise our oversight responsibility and 
authority as provided in section 4(d) and section 5(d). 1 do not think 
the Members of Congress, notified pursuant to law, will agree to any 
designation that we believe does not meet the criteria in section 5 of 
the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998.
  This is an important step. Observers should not misunderstand the 
Senate's action. Even though this legislation will pass without 
controversy on an unanimous voice vote, it is a major step forward in 
the final conclusion of the Persian Gulf war. In 1991, we and our allies 
shed blood to liberate Kuwait. Today, we are empowering Iraqis to 
liberate their own country.

Mr. HELMS: Mr. President, I am an original co-sponsor of HR 4655, the 
Iraq Liberation Act, for one simple reason; Saddam Hussein is a threat 
to the United States and a threat to our friends in the Middle East.
This lunatic is bent on building an arsenal of weapons of mass 
destruction with a demonstrable willingness to use them. For nearly 
eight years the United States has stood by and allowed the U.N. weapons 
inspections process to proceed in defanging Saddam. That process is now 
in the final stages of collapse, warning that the U.S. cannot stand idly 
by hoping against hope that everything will work itself cut.
  We have been told by Scott Ritter and others that Saddam can 
reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction within months. The 
Washington Post reported only last week that Iraq still has three 
nuclear "implosion devices' --in other words, nuclear bombs minus the 
necessary plutonium or uranium to set them off. The time has come to 
recognize that Saddam Hussein the man is inextricable from Iraq's drive 
for weapons of mass destruction.  For as long as he and his regime are 
in power, Iraq will remain a mortal threat.
  This bill will begin the long-overdue process of ousting Saddam. It 
will not send in U.S. troops or commit American forces in any way. 
Rather, it harkens back to the successes of the Reagan doctrine, 
enlisting the very people who are suffering most under Saddam's yoke to 
fight the battle against him.
  The bill requires the President to designate an Iraqi opposition group 
or groups to receive military drawdown assistance. The President need 
not look far; the Iraqi National Congress once flourished as an umbrella 
organization for Kurds, Shi'ites and Sunni Muslims. It should flourish 
again, but it needs our help.
  Mr. President:  the people of Iraq, through representative 
organizations such as the INC, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the 
Kurdish Democratic Party and the Shi'ite SCIRI, have begged for our 
help. The day may yet come when we are dragged back to Baghdad; I 
believe that day can be put off, perhaps even averted, by helping the 
people of Iraq help themselves.
  Opponents of this initiative--I shouldn't call them friends of 
Saddam--have said that the Iraqi opposition exists in name only, that 
they are too parochial to come together.  They are not entirely 
wrong--which is why Senator Lott and Chairman GILMAN (the lead House 
sponsor) have carefully crafted the designation requirement in H.R. 4655 
to insist that only broad-based, pro-democracy groups be selected by the 
President to receive drawdown assistance. I would go further and suggest 
to the President that he designate just one group, the Iraqi National 
Congress, in which the Kurds, the Shi'ites and the Sunnis of Iraq hold 
membership.  The opposition must be unified, but it may just take the 
leadership of the United States to bring them together.
  Finally, this bill gives the Congress oversight over the designation 
and drawdown authority.  As Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, 
I intend to exercise vigorously that authority.  The White Rouse and the 
State Department have indicated that they support this bill. We have a 
unique opportunity, and I intend to do everything in my power to ensure 
that opportunity is not frittered away.  The price of failure is far too 
high.

Mr. KERREY: Mr. President, I rise to urge the passage of HR. 4655, the 
Iraq Liberation Act. Thanks to strong leadership in both Houses of 
Congress and thanks to the commitment of the Administration toward the 
goals we all share--for Iraq and the region, this legislation is moving 
quickly. This is the point to state what this legislation is not, and 
what it is, from my understanding, and why I support it so strongly,
  First, this bill is not, in my view, an instrument to direct U.S. 
funds and supplies to any particular Iraqi revolutionary movement. There 
are Iraqi movements now in existence which could qualify for designation 
in accordance with this bill. Other Iraqis not now associated with each 
other could also band together and qualify for designation. It is for 
Iraqis, not Americans to organize themselves to put Saddam Hussein out 
of power, just as it will be for Iraqis to choose their leaders in a 
democratic Iraq.  This bill will help the Administration encourage and 
support Iraqis to make their revolution.
  Second, this bill is not a device to involve the U.S. military in 
operations in or near Iraq.  The Iraqi revolution is for Iraqis, not 
Americans, to make. The bill provides the Administration a portent new 
tool to help Iraqis toward this goal, and at the same time advance 
America's interest in a peaceful and secure Middle East.
  This bill, when passed and signed into law, is a clear commitment to a 
U.S. policy replacing the Saddam Hussein regime and replacing it with a 
transition to democracy. This bill is a statement that America refuses 
to coexist with a regime which has used chemical weapons on its own 
citizens and on neighboring countries, which has invaded its neighbors 
twice without provocation, which has still not accounted for its 
atrocities committed in Kuwait, which has fired ballistic missiles into 
the cities of three of its neighbors, which is attempting to develop 
nuclear and biological weapons, and which has brutalized and terrorized 
its own citizens for thirty years. I don't see how any democratic 
country could accept the existence of such a regime, but this bill says 
America will not.  I will be an even prouder American when the refusal, 
and commitment to materially help the Iraqi resistance, are U.S. policy.

Mr. McCAIN: Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent the bill be 
considered read a third time and passed, the motion to reconsider be 
laid upon the table, and any statements relating to the bill appear at 
this point in the RECORD.
The PRESIDING OFFICER: Without objection, it is so ordered.
The bill (H.R. 4655) was considered read the third time, and passed.