Congressional Record: September 10, 2002 (Senate)
Page S8427-S8429


  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, as we approach the anniversary of the 
September 11 tragedy, our Nation is in the midst of a national debate 
about war with Iraq.
  I am sure the presiding Senator recalls, as I do, graphically, that 
day just a year ago, on September 11, when the Capitol Building was 
evacuated. During the course of that evacuation, it finally hit me, as 
I stood on the grass outside the Capitol and was looking at this 
building, I was looking at the last building ever invaded by a foreign 
army on the continental United States soil, when the British attacked 
the Capitol during the War of 1812. That struck me as I stood there and 
reflected that once again an enemy had struck the United States home.
  I never would have imagined, when I came to work that week, that by 
the end of the week I would be voting unanimously with my colleagues in 
the Senate, Democrats and Republicans, to give to the President of the 
United States the authority to go to war and the resources to go to 
war. It happened so quickly, but it was the right thing to do. We 
understood that the United States was in peril, was in danger--and 
still is--from the forces of terrorism around the world. We stood as 
one, in a bipartisan way, to back the President, to fight this war on 
terrorism, to go after those who were responsible for the September 11 
tragedy which struck the United States.
  Now, here we are a year later. The war on terrorism continues. Few, 
if any, would say that it is resolved or that we have won it. And we 
are debating the possibility of another war against another enemy. 
Osama bin Laden has not been captured or accounted for. The major 
leaders in al-Qaida are still on the loose somewhere. We believe al-
Qaida still has a network of sleepers in 60 nations around the world. 
Afghanistan, the first battleground in the war against terrorism in the 
21st century, is still not a stable and safe country. Hamid Karzai, the 
President of Afghanistan, barely survived an assassination attempt last 
week. We have thousands of American troops still on the ground there. I 
had the honor to meet with some of them last January; our hearts and 
prayers are with them every single day. But that war on terrorism still 
  Yet the administration comes forward and tells us we still have to 
think about the possibility of another war, in this case a war against 
Iraq. Indeed, it is possible that within a few days or maybe a few 
weeks the people of the United States of America, through their Members 
of Congress, will be asked to vote on whether to go to war against 
Iraq. It is hard to believe the events are moving so quickly that we 
would be declaring a second war within little more than a year of the 
September 11 attack.
  Last Sunday on ``Meet the Press,'' Vice President Cheney indicated 
that the administration would like the Congress to vote on Iraq prior 
to adjourning this October. Do you realize that is a matter of weeks--
weeks, before we would be called on to make this momentous decision? 
Because this is not a matter of high-altitude bombing when it comes to 
Iraq. We wouldn't have the luxury of that type of warfare. We are 
talking about, in the President's words, ``regime change.'' We are 
talking about removing Saddam Hussein from power, not peacefully but 
with force. That would involve, I am afraid, land forces invading, the 
type of war we have not seen in many decades in the United States.
  We recall the Persian Gulf war. It was a much different situation, a 
little over 10 years ago, precipitated by Saddam Hussein's invasion and 
occupation of Kuwait: The formation of a coalition led by the United 
States but also with the United Nations and allies around the world, 
including many Arab States who joined us.
  We fought to remove Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. We were successful in 
doing that. We had logistical support. We positioned our troops in 
Saudi Arabia and nearby. We had a broad coalition. We were forcing 
Saddam Hussein out of a territory he had occupied.
  This is a far different challenge if we invade Iraq--different in 
that the coalition today consists of England and the United States, and 
no others. Logistical support is hard to find because the countries 
surrounding Iraq have basically told us they will not support us in 
this effort. Frankly, we would be fighting Saddam Hussein on his own 
territory, which gives him a home field advantage, which most military 
experts concede. Would we be successful ultimately? Yes--at some cost 
and at some price over some period of time. I have no doubt the 
American military--the very best in the world. Hussein would be gone. I 
can't tell you what it would cost.
  In the midst of the Kuwait situation, Saddam Hussein didn't use 
chemical and biological weapons, which we believe he has, but instead 
he decided to fire Scud missiles on Israel--kind of a third party to 
this conversation--hoping, I am sure, that he would destabilize the 
Middle East and cause such an uproar and consternation that the United 
States would withdraw. It didn't work. Sadly, Israelis died in the 
  This time, we are not talking about moving Iraqi troops out of Kuwait 
but actually killing and capturing Saddam Hussein. To what lengths 
would he go in response? What victims would he seek? He doesn't have 
missiles to reach the United States, but he has the capacity to train 
what missiles he does have on nearby neighbors such as Israel.
  Vice President Cheney said that before the October adjournment, 
Congress would be asked to ``take a position and support whatever the 
President needs to have done in order to deal with this very critical 
  By most definitions, that is article I, section 8, clause 11, of the 

[[Page S8428]]

which gives the Congress, and the Congress alone, the power to declare 
war. The people who wrote that Constitution--the Founding Fathers--had 
seen a king in action, a king who had dragged his country into wars, 
and said that the United States would be different. We will never have 
a President to take us into a war. The American people will make that 
choice through Members of Congress--Members of the House elected every 
2 years, and the Senate every 6 years. They will make the call, and do 
it very explicitly.
  Vice President Cheney is saying to Congress: It is your turn to make 
this decision.
  The decision to go to war is the most significant decision any 
government can make, and Congress plays an essential role. We and the 
executive branch need to have all the relevant facts analyzed as 
thoroughly and objectively as possible before making the decision to 
put America's military men and women in harm's way.
  Senior administration officials publicly identified Iraq's 
development of weapons of mass destruction and the potential of Iraq's 
transfer of these weapons to terrorist groups as the primary threat to 
our Nation. Ultimately, our Government must rely on the intelligence 
community to make the most thorough and unbiased analytic assessment of 
the current and projected status of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction 
infrastructure, regardless of whether the analytic judgments conform or 
conflict with stated U.S. policy. In other words, we are saying that 
the intelligence community should give us the unvarnished truth, tell 
us what Iraq has and its likely capability.
  It is interesting, if you look at the countries that the Bush 
administration designated as part of the axis of evil--North Korea, 
Iran, and Iraq--of the three, the military capabilities of North Korea 
and Iran far surpass the capability of Iraq. We know that in the case 
with North Korea, and probably Iran as well, they have nuclear weapons 
today. We also know they are working on developing long-range missiles. 
We believe North Korea is the closest to developing missiles which 
could make it to the shores of the United States. But we think Iran is 
trying to do the same thing.
  All that I am telling you is a matter of public information. We know 
this. We know what their capability is. When you look at the status of 
the three countries which the President said are the axis of evil, Iraq 
clearly ranks third. If all three are threats and enemies to the United 
States, why is it that the administration has focused in on Iraq, which 
to our knowledge does not have nuclear weapons today nor the ability to 
deliver any type of long-range weaponry against the United States?
  As a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I am 
deeply concerned that the intelligence community has not completed the 
most basic document which is asked of them before the United States 
makes such a critical life-or-death decision.
  It is within the power of the Director of the CIA, George Tenet, to 
order a national intelligence estimate, known as an NIE. National 
intelligence estimates bring together all the agencies of the Federal 
Government involved in intelligence, sits them down, and collects and 
coordinate all of their information to reach the best possible 
conclusion he can come up with.
  I was stunned to learn last week that we have not produced a national 
intelligence estimate showing the current state of weapons of mass 
destruction in Iraq. What is incredible, with all of the statements 
made by members of this administration about those weapons, is the fact 
that the intelligence community has not been brought together.
  If we learned anything from September 11 of last year, we learned, 
when it came to the intelligence out there at the FBI and the CIA and 
other agencies, that no one ever brought it together. Had we been able 
to bring it together by September 10, could we have avoided September 
11? I am not sure. I wouldn't say that. But we certainly would have 
appreciated the threat a lot better, and perhaps we would have been 
prepared a lot better. Maybe--just maybe--we might have avoided some or 
all of the tragedy. But we didn't do it.
  Time and again since then as we looked back on last year, we have 
said we have to be better prepared, with better communications and 
better coordination of information from outside the country and inside, 
and bring it all together so we can make the best decision.
  When we are talking about a possible invasion of Iraq and a war 
against Iraq, why haven't we really created the most basic document 
that we have the power to create in this Government--the national 
intelligence estimate--so we know exactly what we may be up against in 
Iraq? It has not been done.
  This morning, I handed a letter to the deputy to Director Tenet 
asking that he give it to the Director personally, asking that they 
move as quickly as possible to establish and create this national 
intelligence estimate. Once it is established, I think we should meet 
on Capitol Hill--the Senate and the House Intelligence Committees. We 
should have classified hearing on things that can't be discussed 
publicly about this NIE, and then a public hearing as well to share 
with the American people, without compromising in any way the safety 
and security of the United States, as much information as we possibly 
can about the current state of affairs in Iraq.

  National intelligence estimates are the Director of Central 
Intelligence's most authoritative written judgments concerning national 
security issues. They contain the coordinated judgments of the entire 
intelligence community regarding the likely course of future events. 
They provide not just a snapshot of a particular national security 
problem today but a coordinated assessment of how that problem might 
evolve over the next several years. This is the vital policy planning 
tool for our Nation's policymakers.
  Let me tell you the many components of the U.S. intelligence 
community are worthy agencies. Each and every one of them does a good 
job of intelligence collection--the Central Intelligence Agency, the 
Defense Intelligence Agency, the Department of State Intelligence and 
Research Bureau, and the Department of Energy's Intelligence Office 
which is critical to doing an assessment of nuclear capability, and the 
National Security Agency, just to name a few. They provide analytic 
assessments on an hour-to-hour, day-to-day basis. They can tell us 
better than any other group the current situation in Iraq. We need to 
know what their consensus opinion is before we decide in advance 
whether or not this war should be undertaken. I firmly believe that 
policymakers in both the executive branch and the Congress--the 
President, the White House, the Department of Defense, the Department 
of State, and the Congress--would benefit from the production of a 
coordinated consensus document produced by all relevant components of 
the intelligence community on the current and projected status of 
Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
  The letter I sent to Director Tenet asked him to initiate this 
process as quickly as possible and to produce the NIE within several 
weeks. I requested that an unclassified summary of it be produced, as 
has been done in the past, so the American public can better understand 
this vitally important national security issue.
  Let me tell you that during the time I served in the Congress--the 
House and the Senate--there is no moment I recall with more pain in my 
heart than the debate a little over 10 years ago about the Persian Gulf 
war. After we persuaded President Bush's father to follow the 
Constitution, to come to Congress and to seek the authority of the 
American people and the permission and approval of Congress before 
initiating that war, we then engaged in a debate--a long debate. I 
think virtually every Member of the House of Representatives took the 
floor over a 2- or 3-day period of time. The House met continuously. In 
that period of time, each of us stood in the well of the House of 
Representatives--as we did in the Senate Chamber here--and spoke our 
hearts about the challenge we faced and the vote we faced. We knew that 
if a vote were cast to go to war, innocent people would die and that 
American soldiers and American sailors and marines and airmen would 
have their lives on the line.

  It meant a lot to me personally because of a friend of mine, who was 
a Marine at the time--I knew his parents well. They were from 
Springfield, IL. I

[[Page S8429]]

had known his mother and father for many years. They came to me early 
on when the debate got started and said: We are worried to death about 
our son. Really, our hope for the future of our family is in the 
Marines. He is there in the Persian Gulf, and we sure don't want to see 
anything happen to him.
  I assured them that I would think about him constantly as I made my 
decision on the Persian Gulf war. Of course, we all recall what 
happened. Finally, after the approval was given, the war was initiated. 
The land war did not take but 2 or 3 days and it was over. And I 
thought, at the time, what a great relief it was to be able to call his 
parents and tell them that it had ended so quickly and so well.
  Little did I know that Christian Porter of the U.S. Marine Corps from 
Springfield, IL, was one of the several hundred American casualties in 
that war. This young man, whom we all worried about so much, was the 
victim of friendly fire.
  I went to his funeral service in Springfield and to the veterans 
cemetery afterwards. My heart was broken for that family. But it was a 
good reminder for this Member of Congress--now a Member of the Senate--
to remember what war is all about. It is about the potential loss of 
life of many innocent people. It is about being in harm's way for many 
Americans in uniform.
  We have to take this responsibility very seriously. And if we are 
going to take it seriously, we must insist, in Congress, that the 
administration produce the clear and convincing evidence that an 
invasion of Iraq is the only option available to us to bring this 
potential threat under control.
  If this administration cannot produce a National Intelligence 
Estimate which comes to that same conclusion, then, frankly, those of 
us who have listened to the heavy rhetoric over the last several weeks 
will understand that, when it comes to the evidence, there is something 
  It is time for the administration to rise to the occasion, to produce 
this evidence, as has been asked for and been produced so many times in 
the past when America's national security was at risk. We cannot accept 
anything less than that before any Member of the House or the Senate is 
asked to vote on this critical question of going to war.
  We have to say to the administration: Bring forward your best 
evidence and your best arguments so that, ultimately, when we make this 
momentous and historic decision, we can go back to the States and 
people who we represent and say that we have dispatched our 
responsibility in a credible, good-faith manner, that we have done 
everything possible to understand the nature of the threat, and the 
best response of the United States.
  War is the last option. We have to know every element before we make 
that decision. We have to exhaust every other opportunity before we 
reach it.
  On Thursday, the President will be at the United Nations in New York. 
I am certain he is going to remind them that Saddam Hussein is a thug, 
that he has been a threat to his own people, to the region, and to 
people around the world with his weapons of mass destruction. He will, 
undoubtedly, remind them of his cruel invasion of Kuwait, which 
mobilized the United Nations to defeat him and to displace his troops 
from Kuwait. He will, undoubtedly, remind them of what has happened 
since: when the United Nations resolution, which condemns and prohibits 
Iraq from ever having weapons of mass destruction, has been ignored by 
Saddam Hussein; how the inspectors, some 4 years ago, were pushed out 
of his country; and how this man has literally, as a thug, ruled this 
nation in a manner and form that most civilized countries in the world 
find reprehensible.
  All of those things, I will concede, are true. But the next question 
facing the United Nations and facing the United States and its people, 
through its elected representatives in Congress, is: Is it the right 
thing for us to do?
  We cannot make the right decision without the best information. And 
the production of the National Intelligence Estimate will give us that 
  I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Clinton). The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. BYRD. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.