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Posted on Thu, Aug. 15, 2002
Key Bush Aide Says Saddam Must Be Dealt With


The United States has no choice but to take action against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, White House National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said on Thursday.

But President Bush had not decided "how he wants to do it" or how to "make the case for particular methods," she said.

"We certainly do not have the luxury of doing nothing," Rice, a pivotal player in Bush's administration, told BBC radio. "We believe the case for regime change is very powerful."

Bush has labelled Iraq part of an "axis of evil" intent on seeking weapons of mass destruction. Iraq denies the charges.

Rice said Saddam had twice come close to acquiring nuclear weapons.

"This is an evil man who, left to his own devices, will wreak havoc again on his own population, his neighbors and, if he gets weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them, on all of us," she said.

The Financial Times reported on Thursday that the United States had launched a public bidding process for humanitarian relief organizations to work in Iraq and neighboring areas as it prepares for a possible military strike.

The newspaper said it had obtained a document from the State Department inviting proposals for humanitarian aid projects in Iraq and for Iraqi refugees in surrounding countries.

A State Department spokesman in Washington said he had no information on the report.


Official U.S. policy has been to seek a "regime change" in Iraq, but recently Bush and U.S. government officials have sought to play down expectations of an imminent attack.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has backed Bush staunchly since the September 11 attacks but while polls show Americans support an attack on Iraq, most Britons do not.

Ranks of clergy and even Blair's own supporters are lined up against him but few analysts expect the prime minister to stand on the sidelines if the United States attacks.

Gerald Kaufman, a veteran and traditionally loyal lawmaker in Blair's Labour Party, warned him not to follow that course.

"There is substantial resistance in the Parliamentary Labour Party against war on Iraq, not just from the usual suspects," he wrote in the Spectator magazine on Thursday.

The former Labour foreign policy spokesman also launched a savage attack on Bush and his advisers, including Rice.

"Bush, himself the most intellectually backward American president of my political lifetime, is surrounded by advisers whose bellicosity is exceeded only by their political, military and diplomatic illiteracy," he wrote.

Rice also turned her fire on Iran -- which along with North Korea completes Bush's "axis of evil" -- saying its leaders were "on the side of the terrorist."

"Iran is a place where an unelected few are really crushing the aspirations of their people," she said. "Iran is not on the side of peace. Iran is on the side of the terrorist."

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused Bush on Wednesday of using the language of Adolf Hitler to bully the world. Khamenei opposes any rapprochement with Washington while reformists have called for dialogue to ward off possible attack.

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