Tuesday October 9
Annan disturbed by US comments of expanding war
By Evelyn Leopold
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Tuesday he was disturbed about U.S. comments that it reserved the right to extend its military campaign against other countries harboring terrorists.
But he told reporters he understood the United States was keeping all options open at this early stage of its campaign to find those behind the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.
In a letter to the Security Council late Sunday, John Negroponte, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said strikes against Afghanistan were acts of self-defense under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter.
Negroponte said the U.S. inquiry was still in its early stages, but added, "We may find that our self-defense requires further action with respect to other organizations and other states."
Asked about the letter, Annan said, "The one sentence which has caused some anxiety among the members, which I have also asked about, was a question that they may find it necessary to go after other organizations and other states."
He said the United States indicated it was not predicting "any intentions that it intends to take, but is basically a statement that they are at the early stages and keeping their options open."
"But that is the one line that disturbed some of us," Annan said.
He also pointed to an explanation by White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, who said the letter repeated what President Bush had been saying all along -- that the United States reserves the right to defend itself "wherever it is necessary."
Annan made the statement after Security Council consultations during which he and council members expressed grief over an errant U.S. missile that killed four Afghans working for a U.N.-funded mine clearance organization.
Some diplomats said the letter indicated the United States did not intend to ask for any further U.N. backing for military action against Afghanistan or other nations.
The Security Council, a day after the Sept. 11 attacks that killed more than 5,500 people, went far in allowing the United States to go after those responsible. It expressed "its readiness to take all necessary steps" to respond to the attacks. The council's resolution also recognized the "inherent right of individual or collective self defense in accordance with the (U.N.) Charter."
Negroponte's letter touched off concern among some diplomats that the United States was about to expand the military campaign, begun Sunday against Afghanistan's ruling Taliban for sheltering Saudi-born Osama bin Laden, the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.
In Luxembourg, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Monday that the "agreement at the moment is that (the strikes) are confined to Afghanistan. That is where the problem is and that is the military action in which we are involved."
European diplomats said any attempt to extend the campaign by targeting Iraq, for example, would blow apart the global coalition against terrorism, and alienate not only Arab and Muslim states but key European partners, including Russia.
Diplomats said that so far within the Security Council there was a high level of support for actions the United States had taken.
U.N. Ambassador Mohammed al-Douri said his government had nothing to do with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States and had no intention of exploiting the current turbulent situation.
He wouldn't comment on a report from well-informed diplomats that U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte came to Iraq's U.N. Mission after the U.S. airstrikes began on Sunday.
According to the diplomats, the U.S. envoy read a letter with a message to the Iraqi government: Don't use the current situation to take any action either against its own minorities or its neighbors.
After consulting his government, al-Douri went to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations on Monday and read Negroponte a letter of response, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Negroponte also refused to comment.
The United States broke diplomatic relations with Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's government has been on the U.S. list of countries sponsoring terrorism for years, so it was a rare diplomatic contact.
While refusing to discuss any meeting, the Iraqi envoy spoke in an interview with The Associated Press about his country's general policies and its position following the Sept. 11 attacks.
``We are not among those who exploit circumstances or occasions,'' al-Douri said. ``Our position is we are confident in ourselves, that is, we don't work in the dark. We work openly in the light.''
Following the U.S. attacks, President Bush pledged to eradicate terrorism, and many conservatives have been pressuring the administration not to rule out attacks on Iraq as part of the U.S. campaign.
On Monday, the United States told the U.N. Security Council it might exercise its right of self-defense to attack other countries to root out terrorism.
``For the Iraqi government, there is no reason to expect attack by the United States because we are not involved in what happened on Sept. 11,'' al-Douri said.
``But Americans are so arrogant, so they feel they can always use power - weapons and force - and not wisdom. For no reason, they attack so we have to prepare ourselves for such eventuality and certainly we will defend ourselves.
``We hope at the same time nothing will happen and the Americans, for once, will be wise enough not to attack Iraq.''
The Americans have not yet convinced other countries - including Muslim nations - that Osama bin Laden was responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon because they have not provided any evidence, al-Douri said.
``So they have to present evidence to international public opinion and they have to go through the United Nations,'' he said.
Negroponte informed the Security Council on Monday that the United States had exercised its right to self-defense in attacking Afghanistan. The council on Sept. 12 recognized the U.S. right to self defense, but did not explicitly authorize military action.
Al-Douri said the U.S. government must go to the council ``to ask for a very clear-cut resolution giving them authorization from the U.N. for so-called self-defense.''
``So right now, it is illegal action (by the United States) from an international law point of view,'' he said.
DUBAI (Reuters) - Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda militant group said on Tuesday
that hijacked plane attacks on
the United States would continue in a ``battle'' that would not end until the United States withdraws from Muslim
Al-Qaeda spokesman Sulaiman Bu Ghaith said in a message carried on Qatar's al-Jazeera satellite television that the group believed in ``terrorism against oppressors.''
A Jazeera official said the station had received the video recording of Bu Ghaith's statement in the Afghan capital Kabul on Tuesday.
Bu Ghaith, who had appeared with bin Laden on a recorded statement issued via Jazeera last Sunday, is a wanted man in his homeland, Kuwait, where he was a prayer leader.
``Americans should know...The storm of the (hijacked) planes will not stop,'' he said, referring to the suicide plane attacks on New York and Washington last month which killed thousands and triggered a U.S. war on terrorism.
Referring to those who carried out the attacks, Bu Ghaith said that ``they did good by taking the battle into the heart of America'' and that the United States should know such attacks will not end.
His statement fell short of admitting any al-Qaeda involvement in the attacks
but reiterated bin Laden's praise of the
perpetrators in his videotaped remarks released on Sunday.
President Bush has named bin Laden as the prime suspect in the September 11 attacks on the United States, and has launched attacks on Afghanistan and its Taliban regime to try to hunt him and his network down.
``The crusade that Bush had promised has started,'' Bu Ghaith said. He
said the raids on Afghanistan had only opened a new chapter in the war between
the United States and al Qaeda: ``Let them know that by invading the land
of Afghanistan, they opened a new page of enmity and conflict between us
and the infidel forces...``The (Muslim) nation will not be silent after
today, after what is happening on its land. Jihad (holy war) for God's purposes
an obligation today for every Muslim on this earth.''
He suggested that Muslims should target U.S. interests across the world: ``U.S. interests are spread everywhere in the world. Every Muslim should carry out his full role.''
Bu Ghaith appealed to Arab resentment about what many perceive as Washington's blind support for Israel against the Palestinians, about 11 years of United Nations sanctions on Iraq and about the stationing of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, heartland of the Muslim faith.
``Let America know that this battle will not leave its land until it exits our land, and until they stop supporting the Jews and lift the unjust sanctions on Iraq,'' he said.
``In the (Muslim) nation there are thousands of youths who are as keen on death as Americans are keen on life.''
Bu Ghaith urged Muslims to ``shoulder their responsibility'' by supporting al Qaeda and said it would be a ``disgrace'' if they abandoned it.
``It is unacceptable behavior to leak classified information when we have troops at risk,'' Bush said Tuesday when asked about his Friday memo that cut the number of lawmakers who can be given sensitive information.
But after one lawmaker who would be barred from the briefings showed him a law requiring disclosure of State Department activities, there were indications Bush might back off.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the president intended to follow the law, and predicted, ``This will all work out.''
During an earlier Rose Garden appearance with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Bush was adamant about the importance of keeping mum on security details when there are ``people who are being put in harm's way.''
``Classified information must be held dear,'' he said. ``If you receive a briefing of classified information, you have a responsibility. And some members did not accept that responsibility; somebody didn't.''
After details from Oct. 2 intelligence briefings on Capitol Hill turned up in news articles, Bush restricted top-secret congressional briefings to the House speaker, House minority leader, Senate majority and minority leaders and the chairmen and top minority members on the intelligence committees.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., said he shared Bush's ``outrage at the irresponsibility demonstrated by some members as late as last week in the release of extremely sensitive information.''
``We ought to be outraged. It ought to be investigated. We ought to find ways ... to stop that kind of irresponsibility,'' Daschle said.
But Daschle also insisted that Congress must be able to carry out its constitutional oversight role, and that means several committees must get secret information.
Bush said he planned to explain his decision to the four congressional leaders in person at their weekly breakfast Wednesday.
A move toward a less-restrictive policy came during a White House meeting with the chairmen and top minority members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House International Relations Committee.
Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., the House panel's top Democrat, showed Bush a copy of a federal law that requires the State Department to keep both committees ``fully and currently informed with respect to all activities and responsibilities within the jurisdiction of these committees.''
Then Fleischer told reporters Bush would follow the law.
Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., chairman of the Senate panel, said he expected an array of committee members and ``anyone on a need-to-know basis would be able to have access to the information that we're talking about.''
Rep. Bob Stump, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said he had no objection to being excluded from the top secret briefings.
``My philosophy is the fewer people who know about some of these things, the better off we are,'' Stump, R-Ariz., said in an interview. ``I firmly believe in the need to know. Many times, there really is no need to know.''
A few grumbled, however, at potentially being kept out of the loop.
``I understand there may be some heartburn on Capitol Hill,'' Bush said, ``but I suggest if they want to relieve that heartburn they take their positions very seriously, and that they take any information that they've been given by our government very seriously because this is serious business we're talking about.''
WASHINGTON (AP) - A Senate attempt to quickly pass President Bush's anti-terrorism legislation failed Tuesday after a Democratic senator refused to let the bill go through without debate or amendment.
"I can't quite understand why we can't have just a few hours of debate," said Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., who wants to limit some of the police powers in the Senate legislation.
The House and Senate last week came up with anti-terrorism bills based on an outline offered by Attorney General John Ashcroft, who has been urging Congress to quickly pass the bill.
Senate and House leadership both have said they would try to get the bill passed this week, and when Senate negotiations on an airline security bill stalled, Senate Majority Leader Thomas Daschle, D-S.D., asked senators to unanimously agree to move on to the anti-terrorism bill.
Under Daschle's plan, the Senate would have voted on final passage of the bill Wednesday evening and senators would not be allowed to offer amendments. But Feingold refused to go along with it, saying he wanted to add four amendments that would limit some of its police powers.
Feingold wants to eliminate a provision in the bill that would allow police to search suspects' home secretly, narrow a provision that allows federal officials to wiretap telephones, keep the FBI from being able to access Americans' personal records and clarify the federal government's ability to wiretap computers.
"It is crucial that civil liberties in this country be preserved, he said. "Otherwise the terrorists will win the battle against American values without firing another shot."
The anti-terrorism bill now will have to wait until senators finish the aviation bill, and that worries some senators. "There is a danger that the aviation bill will tangle up the rest of this week, and we won't be able to get to it until next week," said Senate Republican leader Trent Lott, R-Miss.
The House, meanwhile, is expected to move on an anti-terrorism bill before
the end of the week.
However, House aides say administration officials are pressuring House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., to take the Senate bill instead of the bill approved by the House Judiciary Committee.
The Bush administration prefers the Senate bill to the House bill, which eliminates most of the bill's police power in 2004. The House bill also does not have money-laundering provisions requested by the White House.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said regardless of what is in either bill, it will be changed in negotiations between the House and Senate. The House-Senate conference committee bill "will be the final package," Leahy said.