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Rumsfeld: Iraq Airstrikes Not Enough

Tue Jul 30, 7:53 AM ET

By PAULINE JELINEK, Associated Press Writer

SUFFOLK, Va. (AP) - Destroying Iraqi weapons with bombs is difficult because Baghdad hides its weapons, moves them and knows U.S. secrets for detecting them, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld says.

Rumsfeld was asked at a news conference Monday why the United States doesn't strike Iraqi chemical and biological weapons sites rather than waiting any longer.

"The Iraqis have a great deal of what they do deeply buried," he answered.

He also said American spies defecting to the Soviet Union or Russia passed on intelligence that Russians then spread "as to how we do things ... how another country can best achieve denial and deception and avoid having the location ... of things known."

Rumsfeld said biological labs can be in trailers, making them mobile.

"So the idea that it's easy to simply go do what you suggested ought to be done from the air ... is a misunderstanding of the situation," he said.

Rumsfeld made the comments while visiting the U.S. Joint Forces Command in Virginia, where he was briefed on a military experiment aimed at planning for warfighting of the future.

Rumsfeld's comments were the latest in the continuing public debate over the Bush administration goal of toppling Iraqi President Saddam Hussein ( news - web sites) from power.

President Bush ( news - web sites) already has approved covert action against Saddam and directed the CIA ( news - web sites) to increase support to Iraqi opposition groups. Six Iraqi opposition leaders are visiting Washington for talks next month.

Congress has supported Bush's demands for Saddam's removal, but has questions: How much of a threat does Iraq pose to the United States? How many U.S. soldiers might die? How would other countries respond? Who would replace Saddam? How long would the United States have to keep troops there?

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will discuss Iraq policy in hearings Wednesday and Thursday with foreign policy analysts and former U.S. government officials.

"I think there are a number of difficult questions that need to be asked before Congress would support a resolution of war against Iraq," said Sen. Chuck Hagel ( news, bio, voting record), R-Neb., a member of the committee.

No administration officials have been asked to appear, though they could be invited before the committee in September, said the chairman, Sen. Joseph Biden ( news, bio, voting record), D-Del.

"It's clear to me that the administration is still in the throes of a searching debate about what to do," Biden said. "I don't want to put them in a position to prematurely have to reach a conclusion."

The House International Relations Committee expects to invite administration officials to appear when it holds its own hearings on Iraq after the August recess, said its chairman, Rep. Henry Hyde ( news, bio, voting record), R-Ill.

Biden said in an interview that he doesn't believe the public will automatically support whatever Bush proposes.

Meanwhile, in the latest incident in the no-fly zone, coalition planes Sunday bombed a communications bunker in southern Iraq, officials said.

No-fly zones were set up after the Persian Gulf War ( news - web sites) to keep Saddam from using military aircraft to threaten dissident Kurds in Iraq's north and Shiite Muslims in the south. Saddam calls the zones an infringement of Iraq's sovereignty and often tries to shoot down the air patrols. Coalition planes have responded by striking parts of Iraq's air defense system.

"You can expect that there will be, on a weekly basis, these exchanges," Rumsfeld said. "And our purpose would be to punish and destroy things that are of military value."

-- (he'll come up with a reason @ just watch. and see), July 30, 2002


Between Iraq and a hard place:

Is a preventative war ever morally justified?

-- (, July 30, 2002.

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