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Administration Keeps up Inspections Demands

Aired October 4, 2002 - 12:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Bush administration is keeping the pressure up on its friends in New York as well as its foes in Baghdad as it tries fit a new round of weapons inspections into its overall strategy. Standing by this hour with all of the late-breaking developments, CNN's Kelly Wallace, she's over at the White House. Jonathan Karl on Capitol Hill and Jane Arraf. She's in Baghdad.
The UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix is comparing notes with the Secretary of State Colin Powell and the National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. For the Americans, it's a chance to tell the inspector not to take no for an answer.

CNN's Kelly Wallace is over at the White House. Let's hear what's going on over there as far as the president is concerned. Kelly?

KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first, Wolf, the president won't be in those meetings. He is in Boston as we speak doing some campaigning for the Republican gubernatorial candidate in that state. But we do know the president is continuing his public relations campaign. He will be delivering a speech Monday evening, described as a comprehensive address to the American people. Now, aides say this is part of the president's role to educate the American people about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein and what this administration intends to do about it.

The strategy here of course, it will come on the eve of votes in the House and in the Senate on this resolution authorizing the president to use force if necessary. It also comes as allies continue to discuss whether to pursue a tough new UN resolution. So we are told this is more about educating the American people, no new policy, it is not to signal anything is imminent, but, again, for the president to get as much support as possible for his tough stance when it comes to Saddam Hussein.

BLITZER: Well, he's not asking the broadcast networks for time to air that speech Monday night, is he?

WALLACE: That is correct. He's not asking for time. And obviously that changes things a little bit. When the president or his aides ask the networks for time it obviously sort of ratchets up things quite a bit. So not asking for time -- you'll recall, Wolf, it was last year when the president was talking about homeland security, delivering an evening address in Atlanta after weeks of scares when it comes to anthrax, at that same time, the president talked to the American people in the evening. But the president and his team did not ask the networks for time because there was no new policy, no major announcement coming out of the speech, Wolf.

BLITZER: Kelly Wallace at the White House, thanks very much.

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, senators are back at work on a resolution authorizing President Bush if necessary to use force. CNN's Jonathan Karl is up on Capitol Hill. Let's go to him right now.

What's the latest on that toing and froing?

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the latest, Wolf, is the debate is formally under way on the floor of the United States Senate, on that resolution authorizing the president to make war, wage war against Iraq. Right now on floor of the Senate, you can see John Warner talking. John Warner is one of the original co-sponsors of the president's resolution. Interesting historic note is that Warner was also one of the original co-sponsors of the 1991 resolution that authorized then president George Bush, the current president's father, to wage war on Iraq. Let's listen to what John Warner is saying.


SENATOR JOHN WARNER (R), VIRGINIA: There is a clear documented case of open intelligence now that he possesses larger stocks, more versatile stocks and the ability to use them. How can this nation, how can other nations just sit and wait? And to the everlasting credit of President Bush, our president today, he has alerted the world and he has taken those steps necessary to prepare this nation, those steps necessary to engage every possible diplomatic means to avoid conflict, that's the course of action he is embarking on now here at home in the United States, in the United Nations and the foreign capitals of the world.

KARL: So John Warner making the case for giving the president the authority to wage war against Iraq. His co-sponsor is Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman, but not all Democrats are on board here, Wolf, as you know. As this debate goes forward, one of the most prominent Democrats opposing this resolution is Senator Carl Levin, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee. Senator Levin spoke earlier this morning, making the case for an alternative resolution that would give the president the authority to wage war but only after first going to the United Nations. Here what is Senator Levin had to say about that.


SENATOR CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: If we go it alone, if we go without the support of the world community would Saddam Hussein or military commanders of his be more likely to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations in the region and against our military forces in response to our attack than would be the case if he faced a UN authorized coalition, particularly if that coalition included Muslim nations, as the coalition did during the Gulf War.


KARL: Senator Levin will get a chance to have a vote on his alternative resolution. There'll be a vote on the president's resolution. There will also be a vote on another Democratic alternative that would give the president slightly more narrow authority to wage war against Iraq. All that expected to happen next week -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jonathan Karl, thanks very much.

An historic debate unfolding on the floor of the U.S. Senate, we'll be watching it over the next several days.

At the moment, it's only a war of words between Washington and Baghdad. The newest volley has President Bush being compared to Adolf Hitler. While inside Iraq, President Saddam Hussein could face a more organized opposition from united Kurdish factions. Let's get more now from CNN's Baghdad Bureau Chief Jane Arraf. She joins us live.


Well, that development in northern Iraq is quite a remarkable one. Officially ignored here in Baghdad, although obviously very closely watched. It's the first meeting of the joint parliament of the two major Kurdish factions in six years.

Now, northern Iraq has been under control of the Kurds since 1991. But they haven't really forged a united front. In 1998 they went to Washington, the heads of the two Kurdish parties and brokered what was called the Washington agreement. But since then, they have not been able to make peace enough to actually appear together at parliament. That happened today. That is certain to have implications for the Iraqi government and for its effort to tell the Kurds that they have to come on board and not side with the United States, a message that was also being heard today in the mosques, a message that Iraq is hammering home to its allies. Wolf?

BLITZER: Jane Arraf, thank you very much for that report.


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