Response to President Bush's Press Conference

March 6, 2003

Tonight the President made another attempt to convince the nation and the increasingly skeptical world community that pre-emptive war against Iraq is necessary.

Once again, I believe the President's rhetoric has fallen short of making a credible case that Iraq presents an imminent threat to vital U.S. interests. He continues to tell us what we all agree on: that Saddam Hussein is a ruthless, tyrannical despot. But he does not make the case that we should take on this crisis without the full backing of the United Nations. It is no wonder that we cannot convince our long-standing allies to go to war when we cannot demonstrate that an imminent threat exists.

I believe that the President continues to focus our diplomats, our military, our intelligence agencies, our resources and even our people on the wrong war, at the wrong time, when we should focus on the greatest threats we face.

Today, we heard from Colleen Rowley, the FBI Special Agent from Minnesota. She believes that we are delusional if we think that enough has been accomplished in securing our homeland that we can "stem the flood of terrorism that will likely head our way in the wake of an attack on Iraq."

Furthermore, the President is undercutting our long-term national security interests by turning decades of bi-partisan consensus at home and cooperation with friends and allies abroad on foreign policy on its head with his reckless, new doctrine of pre-emption.

Last week, we heard from Ambassador John Brady Kiesling, who could no longer represent the U.S. Government in good conscience. He warned that, "We are straining beyond its limits an international system we built with such toil and treasure, a web of laws, treaties, organizations, and shared values that sets limits on our foes far more effectively than it ever constrained America's ability to defend its interests."

Saddam Hussein does not present an imminent threat to our nation. Terrorism does. And war with Iraq will multiply the risks of terror exponentially.

By alienating our allies and crippling the collective security framework provided by the United Nations, the President is jeopardizing the level of cooperation and solidarity that we had marshaled to help us fight the war on terror in the wake of September 11.

At the same time, the President has failed to take all necessary steps to securing our homeland. This failure, combined with an invasion of Iraq, would constitute unnecessarily putting the American people in harm's way.

Furthermore, the President turns a blind eye to the brewing crisis with North Korea, and he does so at great peril to our nation. North Korea is a far greater threat. Not only could they attempt to sell nuclear materials to terrorists, but they have also tested the components of missiles that could reach the western United States.

By letting this problem fester because he refuses to participate in direct negotiation is unacceptable. For want of direct dialogue, he runs the risk of allowing North Korea to become a nuclear power on his watch.

The world is not operating on the President's timetable. We cannot afford to put homeland security or the North Korea crisis on the back burner while the President indulges in his obsession with Iraq.

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