Nicholas Johnston / Bloomberg – 2007-10-21 21:49:41
WASHINGTON (October 22, 2007) — Democrat Joe Biden, chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said President George W. Bush could use a measure calling the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist group as a justification for war.
The Senate voted 76-22 on Sept. 26 to approve a nonbinding resolution asking the US to formally include the 150,000- member military group on a list of terrorist organizations. Biden said Bush could use the vote to justify an attack on Iran, which is suspected of trying to develop nuclear weapons.
Biden said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos,” broadcast today, that the vote in favor of the resolution was “a gigantic mistake.”
“The president’s going to stand there and say, if he does, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, as the United States Congress voted, they said these guys are terrorists. I moved against them to save American lives,”’ Biden said.
Biden, a presidential candidate, criticized Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, a senator from New York, for supporting the measure on Iran. He said she would bear responsibility for any military action taken by the president against Iran.
Twenty-nine Democrats voted for the resolution, while 19 voted against. Barack Obama, a Democratic senator from Illinois and a presidential candidate, didn’t vote.
Clinton defended her support for the measure during a debate in New Hampshire last month, saying the terrorism designation would give the US “the options to be able to impose sanctions on the primary leaders to try to begin to put some teeth into all this talk about dealing with Iran.”
Iran has been under investigation by the United Nations since 2003 in relation to nuclear weapons. The country is defying two Security Council resolutions backed by sanctions ordering it to suspend a uranium enrichment program.
Yesterday Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, resigned, in a signal that Iran may be taking a harder stance in negotiations with Western nations. He was scheduled to meet with the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, in Rome this week.
Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, who is the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said the cooperation of both parties in Congress and between lawmakers and Bush will be needed to make progress on Iran.
“I’d also encourage the president to reach out more to Congress, because when it comes to national security, really we do need to be bipartisan,” Hoekstra said on CNN’s “Late Edition” program. “The threats are too real and too big to make these political talking points.”
Hoekstra and Representative Jane Harman, a California Democrat who chairs a subcommittee on homeland security, asked the Bush administration to more fully brief lawmakers on the Israeli bombing of a possible nuclear site in Syria last month.
“If the administration is going to start leaking bits and pieces of this story to the media, at that point all members of Congress should be briefed,” Hoekstra said. “I think the American people should know what has gone on.”
“Selective declassification by the administration is very troublesome,” Harman said.
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