Springfield State Journal Register

October 4, 2002

Durbin works for resolution he can support 


WASHINGTON - Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who this week announced his opposition to President Bush's request for congressional authorization for war against Iraq, said Thursday he is working with other senators to come up with a bipartisan proposal.

However, he said he still has major concerns about the version negotiated by the White House and House leaders on Wednesday.

"Every time they rewrite the Bush resolution, it gets better, but I still have fundamental problems with it," Durbin said.

"There really is not a commitment in the Bush resolution to working with the United Nations or working to assemble a coalition of nations to deal with Iraq. In the final analysis with all the flowery language stripped away, the president is still given unilateral authority to go to war. That to me is still not the right approach."

Durbin also said the Bush language represents a "dramatic departure in foreign policy for America. We've prided ourselves on never being an aggressor nation - responding to every attack, but never being the aggressor. This Bush approach in Iraq changes that in an historic way."

He said a proposal by Sens. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Joe Biden, D-Del., is "moving in the right direction - farther away from the Bush resolution."

They want to focus U.S. efforts on removing weapons of mass destruction from Iraq rather than overthrowing the government. Durbin also said he is talking with Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who has proposed blocking U.S. action without United Nations support.

About 80 percent of the calls and e-mails to Durbin's office oppose going to war immediately for various reasons, a Durbin aide said.

Also Thursday, Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, R-Ill., said he supports a Senate version of the agreement worked out between the White House and the House.

Fitzgerald had said he believed Saddam Hussein must be overthrown but that he wanted some limits on executive powers.

In a statement released by his office, Fitzgerald said he is "comfortable" with a resolution proposed by Sens. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., John Warner, R-Va., and John McCain, R-Ariz., which is the White House-House compromise.

"The bipartisan resolution gives President Bush the flexibility he needs to address the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, including the authority to use military force as he deems appropriate, without ceding too much authority to the executive to wage war outside Iraq," Fitzgerald said.

The Lieberman-Warner resolution addresses his earlier concerns by
confining the scope of the possible military action to Iraq rather than the entire Middle East region, he said.