CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
McDermott Opposes U.S. Military Action in Iraq
Aired October 2, 2002 - 10:13 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Some people still having questions about why three Democratic Congressman chose to go to Iraq. Those congressman coming under fire in some camps. Jim McDermott, the Congressman, now speaking on Capitol Hill.
Let's listen in.
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REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D), WASHINGTON: He's approached the United Nations in May, and on the Fourth of July, they had a third meeting, and this is the fourth meeting to set up the process, and my belief is we ought to let that process go.
In the United States, we have a tradition. We have a Constitution that says if there is a bad person there, we give them due process, and the inspections is due process in this example. If we go and we were to hang somebody and then ask questions, we would say that's unfair, it isn't the right way to do it, and the whole world would see it.
So it is important for us to go through this process, not to pressure the process. Let the process go. Mr. Blix can go, and he'll come back with a report to the Security Council and say, I succeeded, I was allowed into every place, or I was not. At that point, we can make a decision about what has happened in that process.
And I -- having been a physician who spent time in the Vietnam War, dealing with troops coming back, the Marines, the sailors who were in Apocalypse Now. I have a very strong feeling that I don't want to send anybody into war unnecessarily, or without all the American people understanding what the purpose is. And the debate has been extremely confusing to me.
There are two issues: Do you want disarmament, or do you want regime change? David and I are very much for disarmament. That can be done without war. Regime change, I believe, cannot be done without war.
And I want to try every possible way to make the American people safer by disarming Saddam Hussein and avoiding war. We'd be glad to answer your questions.
KAGAN: We've been listening into Congressman Jim McDermott, one of the three Democratic Congressman, who recently went to Iraq for a five-day trip, saying he believes in trying to disarm Iraq, but he believes that a regime change would take an act of war, and that's something that he is trying to avoid at this point. Those three congressman, David Bonior, Jim McDermott, as we just heard, and Mike Thompson coming under fire in some camps for taking that trip and for criticizing the Bush administration from Iraqi soil. We expect to hear from Senate majority leader Trent Lott in just a bit. You'll see those comments live as well.
Meanwhile, in a related item, getting word this morning that the House and the White House have come up with compromised language for a resolution against Iraq,and our senior White House correspondent John King covering that story for us from the White House today.
Good morning, John.
JOHN KING, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.
That deal reached here at the White House. Negotiations went late into last night, finalized this morning in a breakfast meeting between Bush and the top four congressional leaders. Still no firm agreement with the Senate as yet.
But the White House has already released the verbatim, the draft proposal that will be now debated in the House of Representatives. It makes a number of concessions from the initial proposal put forward by President Bush, but the White House saying it meets the test of what the president believes he needs now to go into this confrontation with Iraq and to try to make a strong case to the United Nations.
Here are some of the key details in this resolution. It would require the president to notify Congress before or immediately after, if he cannot do before, that in his judgment, diplomacy has failed, and he has no option but to use military force. U.S. military force would be strictly limited against Iraq and its -- quote -- "continuing threat to U.S. security interests and also to force Iraq into compliance with its commitments to the United Nations."
There is a statement in this resolution that says "The president must determine first that no military confrontation with Iraq would distract or detract from the broader ongoing war against terrorism." And the White House also must report to Congress every 60 days, not only on ongoing military operations within Iraq, but on any planning here at the White House for post-military activities, like peacekeeping troops in Iraq or any reconstruction effort.
A number of concessions from the original presidential proposal, most to limit the scope of it. Also language in here saluting the United Nations role and applauding the president in trying get a new resolution out of the Security Council. But it does not tie the president's hand to using force. Only if the U.N. acts, it would give the president the use of force if they U.N. doesn't do as the president wishes. This is an agreement between the House speaker, and the House Democratic leader and the White House.
Both speaker Hastert and leader Gephardt selling it to their caucuses today. They believe it will pass the House overwhelmingly with a bipartisan vote. Still some haggling to be done with the Senate. The majority leader Tom Daschle emerged from that breakfast meeting this morning, though, saying the negotiations would continue. He's confident there will ultimately be a deal.
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REP. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MAJORITY LEADER: I indicated this morning that it isn't where you start, it's where you end. And it is still my hope and my expectation, really, that at the end of the day, we're going to have a broad level of support on both sides of the aisle for a resolution that indicates our support for the United Nations' effort, and our support for the administration's effort in dealing with Iraq.
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KING: On Capitol Hill, most sources believe that by this time next week, there will be agreement in the Senate on something that is exactly or very close to the language agreed to between the White House and the House leaders today. Still some competing language, though, in the Senate. So some haggling to be done. But the White House hailing this as significant progress at the breakfast meeting today, and we're told to look for President Bush in the Rose Garden early this afternoon to celebrate this as a significant agreement, also part of the president's effort to nudge to Senate to accept this as well -- Daryn.
KAGAN: John, on another note, I understand there was an uninvited visitor at the White House earlier this morning?
KING: We had demonstrators across the street from the White House. That is almost a daily occurrence now.
What was unique about this is that one of the handful of demonstrators tried to climb over the White House gate. And you see the pictures here, standing up first on one of the concrete pillars along the White House gate, tried to climb in as well. Let's just say they frown on that here at the White House. And you see the agents coming out, some of the agents armed with machine guns, concerns that somebody was trying to jump the fence. Remember, at the time, not only are the president and vice president on the compound, but also the congressional leadership as well.
But the security took precautions. In the end, a relatively benign event. That protester is spending some quality time at the D.C. jail.
KAGAN: I would expect so. John King at the White House, thank you so much.
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