In Washington, George Bush won backing from House leaders to use unilateral force against Iraq. The president’s deal with the leaders could allow the United States to use force against Iraq in a manner “necessary and appropriate” to protect U.S. national security and enforce U.N. resolutions. House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt broke ranks with many in his party, including the Senate’s Democratic Leader Tom Daschle. Gephardt cut a surprise deal with the White House that paves the way for a bipartisan congressional endorsement of Bush’s Iraq policy next week. Since June. Gephardt has supported proposals to strike Iraq, although he joined fellow Democrats on September 25 in accusing Bush of politicizing national security. This week, when Bush needed a high-profile Democrat to join him in crafting a congressional resolution authorizing military action against Iraq, Gephardt stepped into the role. The deal requires Bush to notify top lawmakers before any military action, or not later than 48 hours after it begins. That diplomacy has been exhausted or is doomed to fail. He must also assure the leaders that attacking Iraq will not hamper the war on terrorism he declared after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. It does not require U.N. action. House leaders expect to vote on their measure as early as next week.
Washington last night revealed its intention to use U.N. weapons inspections as a possible first step toward a military occupation of Iraq. Under a leaked proposal for a U.N. resolution drafted by the United States, the U.S. could send in troops, seal off exclusion zones and create secure corridors throughout the country, according to a report in the London Guardian. The resolution would place a full-scale invasion of Iraq on a hair trigger. authorizing U.N. member states to “use all necessary means to restore international peace and security” if Iraq fails to comply with any part of the resolution. Weapons inspectors would operate out of bases inside Iraq, where they would be under the protection of U.N. troops. U.N. forces or the forces of member states would enforce no-fly and no-drive zones around suspected weapons sites. The U.N. would also have the power to detain and temporarily remove anyone it wishes out of Iraq for questioning. Iraq would also have to agree to free and unrestricted landing of aircraft, including unmanned spy planes. Diplomats at the U.N. said there was no doubt that U.S. troops would play a leading role in any such enforcement, allowing the Pentagon to deploy forces inside Iraq even before hostilities got underway.
The Central Intelligence Agency has refused to outline for Congress what role the CIA would play in a possible U.S. war against Iraq. Congress had asked the CIA to explain how the intelligence community’s clandestine role against Iraq would be coordinated with the diplomatic and military actions that the Bush administration is planning. Lawmakers contend the White House heavily influenced the CIA’s decision not to cooperate.
Former President Bill Clinton warned yesterday against the U.S. and Britain going alone against Iraq. He said, in Britain, preemptive action today might come back with unwelcome consequences in the future,” adding, “I don’t care how precise your bombs and weapons are. When you set them off, innocent people die.”
The former chief weapons inspector in Iraq, Richard Butler, has lashed out at United States double standards on nuclear weapons. Butler said, “What America totally fails to understand is that their weapons of mass destruction are just as much a problem as those of Iraq.”
The daily Israeli newspaper Maariv is reporting that the Israeli army has carried out a practice run of an operation to exile Yasser Arafat from the Palestinian territories and has even prepared a secret final destination for the Palestinian leader. Troops simulated the seizure of the Palestinian chief and exile to an unnamed foreign country. The paper said that neither Jordan nor Lebanon was to be the destination. Maariv said the plan could be executed very rapidly if the Israeli leadership gave the green light for such a banishment. The operation would deploy helicopters, and aides close to Arafat could also be bundled off into exile with their boss.
Americans who join foreign terrorist groups or provide any support for them would lose their citizenship under a bill drafted by Congressmember James Hansen, Republican of Utah. The bill would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to add terrorist activity to the list of offenses that could cost Americans their citizenship. The bill would apply to people with links to groups on the State Department’s terrorist list. A lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union said the bill was flatly unconstitutional. The ACLU says the bill could unfairly target people who sympathize with groups on the State Department’s watch list but have not committed terrorist attacks.
CEOs are fighting back. Chief executives of big U.S. companies, including Sprint, JPMorgan Chase and Hewlett Packard, yesterday warned that heavy regulation, legislation and litigation triggered by recent scandals could have a chilling effect on corporate decision-making and the economy. The comments are among the first public signals that top executives want to get back to business, even as prosecutors and regulators are increasing their high-profile efforts to punish corporate malpractice.
Federal prosecutors here in the United States made significant breakthroughs in attempts to clean up corporate America, filing charges against the highest-ranking Enron executive yet and gaining a key witness in the case against Martha Stewart. Andrew Fastow, the former chief financial officer of Enron, surrendered to authorities early yesterday morning before being taken in handcuffs to a Houston court. He was charged with three counts of fraud, money laundering and conspiracy at the energy firm, which went bankrupt last year. He could face 45 years in prison. Enron was the first in a wave of corporate scandals that has shocked the United States.
The Teamsters, the most powerful transport union in the United States, has promised to help locked-out West Coast dockers in any way possible, according to James Hoffa, the president of the Teamsters. The offer came as port union officials met federal mediators for the first time and said they would consider agreeing to formal arbitration talks with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.