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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bush Asks Congress to OK Possible Iraq Strike

WASHINGTON -- U.S. President George W. Bush on Thursday asked Congress for authority to use military force to disarm and overthrow Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, saying the United States will take action on its own if the UN Security Council balks.

The president was sending to Congress his proposed wording for a resolution, a late draft of which would, according to White House officials, give him the go-ahead to use "all means he determines to be appropriate, including military" to deal with Saddam.

"That will be part of the resolution -- authorization to use force. If you want to keep the peace, you've got to have the authorization to use force," Bush told reporters in the Oval Office.

He immediately began trying to build support for the resolution that he wants Congress to approve before lawmakers adjourn to campaign for the Nov. 5 elections. Bush met with nine Democrat and Republican lawmakers who emerged predicting bipartisan support for the commander in chief. "I think we have no choice but to have the strongest support possible for the president's efforts here," said Representative Norm Dicks.

But the president also stressed he is not on the verge of declaring war, said Representative John McHugh.

"The most important word I heard inside today from the president was the word 'if.' He made it repeatedly clear that this resolution is not intended as a declaration of war, it is not intended as an immediate prior step to aggression," said McHugh.

Bush spoke to journalists after meeting with Secretary of State Colin Powell on his uphill diplomatic work to draft a United Nations Security Council resolution against Iraq that could overcome strong reservations by Russia and France, who have veto power in the Security Council.

"The United Nations Security Council must work with the United States and other concerned parties to send a clear message that we expect Saddam to disarm," Bush said.

The gap between Russian and American viewpoints was underlined Thursday in comments by Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov. Upon arriving at the Pentagon to meet with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Ivanov said he believed UN weapons inspectors will succeed in settling the question of whether Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.

Saddam will make about $2.5 billion this year through oil smuggling and by exploiting the UN's program that manages Iraqi oil sales, a human rights group said Wednesday, Reuters reported.

Iraq has said it expects to sell some $5 billion of oil this year through the program. "That money is meant to be distributed to the Iraqi people in humanitarian goods, but Saddam is in charge of the distribution and he has a veto over the UN workers there," said Susan Blaustein, author of the report.