Monday, November 18, 2002
Iraq shoots down American plane, captures pilot
Democrats call on Bush to seek UN help
(HOYSTORY.COM) -- After nearly a decade of trying, Iraqi president Saddam Hussein declared victory over the "Zionist-backed American imperialist forces" after a Navy F/A-18D Hornet was shot down patrolling the southern no-fly zone.
The plane, flown by Commander George I. Joe of Berkeley, Calif., was apparently hit by a surface-to-air missile at 9:11 a.m. EST.
According to the Department of Defense, Joe successfully ejected from the plane, but was captured by Iraqi troops shortly after he hit the ground. American war planes later destroyed the air defense battery responsible for the shoot down.
Hussein said that his government was interrogating the prisoner, in preparation for his trial on charges of "war crimes against the Iraqi people." Hussein assured reporters that the jury verdict would have to be unanimous for Joe to be convicted.
According to Hussein, the sentence for Joe's crime, as dictated by sharia law, is death by beheading.
President Bush directed the Navy to send another aircraft carrier to Persian Gulf, and ordered the deployment of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Unit from Camp Pendleton, Calif., to the U.S. base in Qatar.
"I call on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to immediately release Commander Joe or face the wrath of the United States," Bush said in a prepared statements in the White House briefing room shortly before noon.
Democrats in Congress warned the President not to take unilateral action against Iraq, and instead implored the U.N. Security Council to pass a resolution requesting the release of Joe.
"It is vitally important that the president use caution," said Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle. "The United States will further alienate itself from the international community if we do not seek consensus from the United Nations Security Council."
At the U.N., U.S. Representative John Negroponte asked the Security Council to declare the Iraqis in "material breach" of the latest U.N. resolution, and authorize the use of force.
French Ambassador Jean-Paul Surrendeaux noted that the American- and British-imposed no-fly zones were not specifically authorized in any U.N. resolution, but were a creation used to enforce Resolution 668. Resolution 668 called on Hussein not to persecute his own people.
"Because the zones were not specifically mandated, there may be some difficulty in resolving the status of the American pilot in the Security Council," Surrendeaux said.
Surrendeaux said that it would be unlikely that the Security Council would authorize the use of force against Iraq "merely to free one American."