Senate Urges Tribunal to Try Saddam
By Helen Dewar
Passage of the non-binding resolution, which carries no force of law, followed the Senate's earlier failure to agree on a broader resolution on U.S. policy toward Iraq. Senators couldn't settle on the wording of a broad resolution, or even what the policy should be.
Far easier to achieve was common ground on the notion of targeting Saddam Hussein as a war criminal. It was approved 93 to 0, with seven senators already having left for the weekend. There was no debate yesterday and only a brief discussion late Thursday.
The resolution urged President Clinton to call on the United Nations to form a tribunal "for the purpose of indicting, prosecuting and imprisoning Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi officials who are responsible for crimes against humanity, genocide and other violations of international law."
"You certainly could make a good argument that he deserves that designation and we are going to study the resolution passed by the Senate carefully," said White House spokesman Michael McCurry, the White House spokesman.
At the State Department, the chances of U.N. Security Council approval of such a war crimes tribunal were seen as slim by spokesman James Rubin. But he added, "We do support an effort to document Iraqi war crimes, including those of Saddam Hussein."
Although the resolution did not address how Saddam Hussein might be apprehended, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), its chief sponsor, suggested a U.N. tribunal already set up to try suspected war criminals in Bosnia and Rwanda could be expanded to try the Iraqi president in absentia. "The indictment itself, even in absentia, could give the United States the high moral ground" for later action to topple the Iraqi leader, Specter added.
The resolution said Iraq under Saddam Hussein had committed violence against Kuwaiti citizens, missile attacks on Israel and "calculated crimes of environmental terrorism" during the Persian Gulf War. It cited Iraq's assassination plot against President George Bush after he left office in 1993 and use of chemical weapons against its Kurdish population in the late 1980s. It also cited Iraq's resistance to weapons inspections and "good reason to believe" that the country continues to hide chemical and biological munitions and the missiles to carry them.
Also yesterday, the White House said President Clinton would meet next week with Jordan's King Hussein, who has urged a direct dialogue between the United States and Iraq.
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