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Sen. Byrd warns of another Gulf of Tonkin

by By Paul J. Nyden Wednesday, Sep. 25, 2002 at 7:49 AM

see. LBJ tapes re: Gulf of Tonkin

September 22, 2002

Byrd Charges Bush's War

Plans Are A Coverup

By Paul J. Nyden

Charleston Gazette Staff Writer



Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., said President Bush's

plans to invade Iraq

are a conscious effort to distract public attention from

growing problems

at home.

"This administration, all of a sudden, wants to go to

war with Iraq,"

Byrd said. "The [political] polls are dropping, the

domestic situation

has problems.... So all of a sudden we have this war

talk, war fervor,

the bugles of war, drums of war, clouds of war.

"Don't tell me that things suddenly went wrong. Back in

August, the

president had no plans.... Then all of a sudden this

country is going to

war," Byrd told the Senate on Friday.

"Are politicians talking about the domestic situation,

the stock market,

weaknesses in the economy, jobs that are being lost,

housing problems?


Byrd warned of another Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. Passed

on Aug. 7, 1964,

that resolution handed President Lyndon Johnson broad

powers to escalate

the war in Vietnam, a conflict that cost 58,202 American

lives and

millions of Asian lives.

"Congress will be putting itself on the sidelines," Byrd

told the Senate.

"Nothing would please this president more than having

such a blank check

handed to him."

Byrd said his belief in the Constitution will prevent

him from voting for

Bush's war resolution. "But I am finding that the

Constitution is

irrelevant to people of this administration."

Byrd said, "Before the nation is committed to war,

before we send our

sons and daughters to battle in faraway lands, there are


questions that must be asked. To date, the answers from


administration have been less than satisfying."

Byrd repeatedly said Bush has failed to give members of

Congress any

evidence about any immediate danger from Iraq. Byrd also

criticized his

speech to the United Nations.

"Instead of offering compelling evidence that the Iraqi

regime had taken

steps to advance its weapons program, the president

offered the U.N. more

of a warning than an appeal for support.

"Instead of using the forum of the U.N. General Assembly

to offer

evidence and proof of his claims, the president

basically told the

nations of the world that you are either with me, or

against me," Byrd


"We must not be hell-bent on an invasion until we have

exhausted every

other possible option to assess and eliminate Iraq's

supposed weapons of

mass destruction program. We must not act alone. We must

have the support

of the world."

Byrd said Congress needs solid evidence and answers to

several specific

questions, including:

* Does Saddam Hussein pose an imminent threat to the


* Should the United States act alone?

* What would be the repercussions in the Middle East and

around the


* How many civilians would die in Iraq?

* How many American forces would be involved?

* How do we afford this war?

* Will the U.S. respond with nuclear weapons if Saddam

Hussein uses

chemical or biological weapons against U.S. soldiers?

* Does the U.S. have enough military and intelligence

resources to fight

wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, while mobilizing resources

to prevent

attacks on our own shores?

Byrd said the proposed resolution Bush sent Congress on

Thursday would be

the "broadest possible grant of war powers to any

president in the

history of our Republic. The resolution is a direct

insult and an affront

to the powers given to Congress."

Byrd also criticized Bush's request for power to carry

out "pre-emptive

attacks" and send troops to Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon,

Yemen, the West

Bank and anywhere else in the Middle East.

"I cannot believe the gall and the arrogance of the

White House in

requesting such a broad grant of war powers," Byrd said.

"This is the

worst kind of election-year politics."


Byrd, Robert (D - WV)



(202) 224-3954


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