US seeks to liberate Iraq?

WASHINGTON, Oct 5 (South News) - In a move of state sponsored terrorism the US House of Representatives voted on Monday to permit the Clinton administration to spend nearly $100 million on military aid to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

The legislation states the intentions of Congress and gives President Bill Clinton the power to aid the opposition with $97 million in arms and other military equipment, if he chooses.

The Republican-led chamber approved the nonbinding legislation, called the ``The Iraq Liberation Act of 1998,'' on a vote of 360 to 38.

In addition to the up to $97 million it permits in shipments of U.S. weapons and other military equipment, it also allows $2 million in funding for opposition groups for radio and television broadcasts into Iraq.

According to co-sponsor Jesse Helms,"For nearly eight years the United States has stood by and allowed the U.N. weapons inspections process to proceed in defanging Saddam. That process is now in the final stages of collapse, warning that the U.S. cannot stand idly by hoping against hope that everything will work itself out."

"We have been told by Scott Ritter and others that Saddam can reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction within months. The Washington Post reported only last week that Iraq still has three nuclear ``implosion devices''--in other words, nuclear bombs minus the necessary plutonium or uranium to set them off ", Jesse Helms said.

"The time has come to recognize that Saddam Hussein the man is inextricable from Iraq's drive for weapons of mass destruction. For as long as he and his regime are in power, Iraq will remain a mortal threat. This bill will begin the long-overdue process of ousting Saddam," Helms said in introducing the legislative bill.

The  move was condemned by Iraq as interference in its internal affairs and which noted that  President Saddam was chosen by a ``free and democratic referendum which was held on Oct. 15, 1995.''

The legislation also urged, but does not require, the administration to promote installation of a democratic regime in Iraq without the use of U.S. armed forces. It urged that U.S. humanitarian aid be sent to areas of Iraq under control of opposition groups.

The bill also calls for Clinton to press for a United Nations international criminal tribunal to indict, prosecute and imprison Saddam and other Iraqi leaders found guilty of war crimes.

The official said the Clinton administration looked forward to working with lawmakers to ``find mutually acceptable language'' on the legislation. The bill cleared the committee last week on a voice vote and was brought up in the House under provisions for speedy approval. Senate Republican leaders have said they support it as well.