Posted 9:36 p.m. Oct. 7
by Patrick W. Higgins
U-WIRE (DC BUREAU)
In a televised address to the nation last night, President George W. Bush restated the extreme threat that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein poses to the safety of the United States and the world, accusing him of stockpiling biological and chemical weapons and seeking nuclear capabilities. The president’s speech directly warned Hussein that his opportunity to avoid a military conflict is coming to a close.
“Saddam Hussein must disarm himself,” Bush said, “or for the sake of peace, we will disarm him.”
Bush appeared calm as he systematically outlined his case against Hussein, citing evidence of massive amounts of anthrax and several types of nerve gas as well as a nuclear weapons program that, as of 1993, was near completion.
Addressing the status of Iraq’s nuclear weapons Bush said, “We don’t know, and that’s the problem.”
The president’s 30-minute long address refuted recent critiques of a war with Iraq that have been heard from some congressional leaders and the global community.
Bush declared that Iraq posed the most formidable threat to America due to a history of harboring terrorist and providing funding for certain terror attacks combined with Hussein’s unrestricted production of weapons of mass destruction.
“While there are many dangers in the world,” Bush said, “Iraq stands alone.”
The president claimed that by continuing a diplomatic approach to the Iraqi conflict, which he said, has met with no success in the past, America is leaving itself open for an attack that may be more deadly then the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He said that surveillance photos prove that weapons facilities are continuing to be built and that Hussein currently has ballistic missiles capable of striking Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia as well as other countries in a region where 135,000 Americans live.
“We can’t wait for the final proof, the smoking gun, which may come in the form of a mushroom cloud. This puts Saddam Hussein in a position to threaten America,” Bush said.
Constantly referring to Hussein as a “murderous tyrant” and a “homicidal dictator,” the president alleged links between Iraq and terrorist groups, including al Qaeda. Once again citing military reports, Bush said that Hussein held high level meetings with members of al Qaeda and rejoiced after last year’s terrorist attacks that killed over 3,000 people.
“Alliance with terror groups can allow Iraq to strike America without leaving any fingerprints,” Bush said.
The president accused Hussein of using chemical and biological weapons to kill over 20,000 of his own citizens. In addition to the chemical attacks, Bush claimed that the Iraqi leader had the wives and children of top government officials raped and tortured as a method of intimidation, a trend that demonstrates Hussein’s ruthless nature.
As another point of concern, the president noted that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aircrafts that could deliver a chemical strike directly against the United States.
“America must not ignore the threat against us,” Bush said.
Bush then turned to Congress and the United Nations, prompting them to “consider the facts and remember their duty.”
He called upon the U.N. to be an effective peace keeping organization by passing a new Security Council resolution that forces Iraq to reveal and destroy all weapons of mass destruction and related facilities, to allow U.N. weapons inspectors to have full-access to all government facilities, and to allow Iraqi government officials and their families to be interviewed outside of the country. Hussein’s full compliance would be required to avoid a U.S. strike.
Bush then asked Congress to pass a resolution giving him full authority to strike Iraq at any time if need be. A vote is expected this week.
“I hope that this situation will not require military action, but it may,” the president said.
Shifting his address to generals in the Iraqi army, Bush warned that they should disregard any order from Hussein to attack U.S. interests, saying that America is a friend to the Iraqi people. If they do follow Hussein’s lead, Bush warned that they would be tried as war criminals.
The president also offered words of a truce to Iraqi citizens, pledging to rebuild their economy and “institutions of freedom” as in Afghanistan if a war were to occur.
Before ending his address, held in Cincinnati, Ohio, Bush reaffirmed his stance that his terms were non-negotiable.
“There can be no peace if our security is threatened,” Bush said. “Failure to act would embolden other terrorists and we will not live in fear. We did not ask for this present challenge, but we will accept it.”