Democrats: Iraq No Imminent Threat, Bush Wants Hussein's Oil
By Jeff Johnson
CNSNews.com Congressional Bureau Chief
September 13, 2002
Capitol Hill (CNSNews.com) - Two House Democrats said Friday that Saddam Hussein's on-going effort to amass chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons poses no immediate threat to the United States, and that the Bush administration has ulterior motives for pursuing war against Iraq.
Rep's. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) told reporters and opponents of military action against Iraq at a Capitol Hill briefing that politics and oil, not fear that Iraq will use weapons of mass destruction, are the driving factors behind the president's call for a regime change in that country.
"There is no imminent threat by Iraq against the United States. Iraq does not have nuclear capabilities that anyone has been able to specifically determine, nor does it have the ability to deliver such a weapon, nor does it have the intent to do so," Kucinich claimed. "It could be said by Iraq that they none are facing the imminent threat."
But, if Iraq poses no danger to the U.S. or its allies, why is President Bush threatening to attack the Persian Gulf country? Kucinich believes the answer lies beneath the sands of Iraq.
"Oil is a factor. How much [of a factor] is anybody's guess, but to discount it as a factor is, I think, to be misleading," he continued. "It's not a conspiracy theory to bring it in because, after all, it is the second largest oil supply in the world."
The congressman said the White House should be focusing on healthcare, the cost of prescription drugs, unemployment, the economy, corporate fraud, and retirement security.
"Therein is the immediate threat to America's security," Kucinich added. "Iraq is a handy diversion."
McDermott said the lack of focus on those issues points to another motivation for the administration's push for Hussein's removal.
"This war business has obfuscated, hidden, beaten down any discussion of domestic issues," he charged. "I think that the president may have a two-pronged plan here, one over oil and the other is to win the fall election."
McDermott originally came to the briefing only to listen, but spoke when Kucinich invited him to the table. McDermott charged that the original military action against Iraq - launched with United Nation's approval after Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990 - was also primarily undertaken because of fear that the U.S. would lose access to foreign oil.
"That was really about the Kuwaiti oil fields and now we're back into this again," he claimed. "I, personally, am one of those who thinks [oil] is a much larger issue than people wish to talk about."
The allegation of access to oil as a motive for removing Hussein is not frequently heard publicly, McDermott said, because of an organized effort by the Bush administration to squelch such discussions.
"The political operatives in the White House have been very careful to spin it away from oil," he said. "Anytime anybody tries to see a connection, they spin it the other way."
Kucinich suggested sarcastically that, if and when they do vote on any administration proposal to engage Iraq, members of Congress should perhaps have a new choice for voting.
"Maybe we should have four buttons on our voting machine," he said with a laugh, "one that says, 'yes;' one that says, 'no;' another one that says, 'present;' and a fourth one that says, 'fill 'er up.'"
Kucinich insisted that any action the U.S. takes against Iraq, without permission from the United Nations, "would clearly be a violation of international law."
"This is a question of whether we become an aggressor nation," he claimed. "This would change what America is all about."
Kucinich is urging his colleagues to wait to see what action, if any, the United Nations might take. President Bush, however, wants Congress to deliberate the issue and vote on a resolution concerning Iraq before it adjourns to campaign for the November elections.
"I can't imagine an elected member of the United States Senate or House of Representatives saying, 'I think I'm going to wait for the United Nations to make a decision,'" Bush said Friday morning prior to the accusations by Kucinich and McDermott.
"It seems like to me that if you're representing the United States, you ought to be making a decision on what's best for the United States," he continued. "If I were running for office, I'm not sure how I'd explain to the American people saying, 'Vote for me, and, oh, by the way, on a matter of national security, I think I'm going to wait for somebody else to act."