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Utah delegation backs Bush

WASHINGTON — Utah's members of Congress are closing ranks to support President Bush's decision to return to war with Iraq, and say it is finally time to hold Saddam Hussein accountable.

"It is clear that Saddam Hussein is an evil person who has not lived up to his commitments, and we have to hold him accountable," said Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, the delegation's only Democrat.

He had also been the only one previously to question using force without broader support from the United Nations. But Matheson said of Bush on Monday, "I am confident he tried to pursue all diplomatic efforts.. . . . It's important for all of us now to support our troops."

Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, said, "Saddam Hussein has been in violation of U.N. resolutions for 12 years. We have done all we can short of invasion to make him comply."

Bennett said the United States has given Iraq multiple warnings, so it is operating on moral high ground. "This is not a Pearl Harbor sneak attack. The president has given him (Saddam Hussein) every opportunity. . . . I am confident that we will be successful, and once we are, other countries (who oppose war) will say they made a mistake not being part of this from the beginning, and will ask how they can help."

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said, "After years of diplomacy, including recent months of focused efforts, the diplomatic options have run their course."

He added, "The risks of inaction far outweigh the risks of action. And while the president has been very honest with the American public about the risks of action, the president showed his conviction — which I share — that we will prevail, and the result will be a more stable region, and a more secure America."

Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, said, "After 12 years and 17 U.N. resolutions, Saddam Hussein has made clear his contempt for international law. Nevertheless, President Bush has gone the extra mile to give Saddam every opportunity to satisfy the international community."

He added, "At this point it is obvious that the path to disarming Saddam does not lie with the current U.N. Security Council. The president is absolutely right that the time has come for the United States and our allies to act."

Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, said, "Now is the time when all Americans should unite. . . . . The Bush administration has bent over backwards to allow the Iraqi regime ample time to comply with the intended requirements."

He added, "I am committed to America's military and recognize the heavy role Utah plays in regards to reservist and National Guard forces. We should be very grateful and proud of their service."


E-mail: lee@desnews.com