Congressman Nadler Voices Support for Substitute Amendment on Iraq

Oct 8, 2002 Issues: Foreign Affairs/Israel

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) today announced his support for a substitute amendment, offered by Rep. John Spratt (D-SC), to House Joint Resolution 114, authorizing the President to use military force in Iraq. More information on the Spratt Substitute will be able to be found, later today, at:

Rep. Nadler's statement is below:

"Tomorrow, I intend to vote against the co-called compromise resolution on Iraq when it comes to the floor.  I will do so not because I am blind to the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, but because I believe the resolution is far too broad in the powers it grants the President, and may send us down a perilous course.

The resolution grants the President war making powers, to exercise at his own discretion. Though the resolution pays lip service to the need for international cooperation, it does not require the President to seek it.  While it makes mention of the desire to work through the United Nations, it does not require the President to exhaust our options at the UN before starting a war. The President is to inform Congress that efforts in the UN and the international community have failed, but he need not do so until after he starts a war.

Perhaps most disturbing is that the President’s resolution would allow the Administration to use military force to actively seek “Regime Change” in Iraq.  Not only is “Regime Change” not a legitimate purpose for the use of military force, under international law, but this ham-handed approach to international relations could be the spark that sets off a delicate powder-keg.

Faced with such a threat, which, in practical terms, means his death, there would be nothing to deter Saddam Hussein from deciding, like Samson in the Philistine Temple, that he might as well pull the world down with him.  Why not go down in history as an Arab hero by attacking Israel with chemical or biological weapons of perhaps devastating lethality?  Israel might then feel compelled to retaliate, and no one can calculate the course of escalation from there.

But don’t just take my word for it.  Just yesterday, the Director of the CIA, George Tenet told the Senate that, "Baghdad, for now, appears to be drawing a line short of conducting terrorist attacks with conventional or chemical or biological weapons.”  But, he continued, if Saddam concluded the survival of his regime was threatened, "he probably would become much less constrained in adopting terrorist action."

I do believe that Iraq’s weapons pose a threat.  But I believe the best way to meet that threat is not properly laid out in the President’s resolution.

Rather, the Spratt Substitute is the most effective way to go about disarming Saddam Hussein, while avoiding tactics that could very well end up in regional conflagration.  This substitute grants more limited - but still sufficient - powers to the Administration to meet the threat Iraq’s weapons program poses.  It allows for the President to use force in conjunction with the UN, if it becomes necessary.  It does not, however, grant the President a blank check, in the model of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, like the President’s resolution does.  I am proud to support this resolution, and will do everything I can to help ensure its passage."