Friday, March 14, 2003
A few years ago, in an alternate universe:
President Clinton readies troops for invasion of Afghanistan
Claims Taliban, Osama bin Laden threat to U.S.
Washington, D.C. (AP) -- President Bill Clinton, in a hastily-called address to a joint session of Congress, sought congressional authorization for a war against Afghanistan.
The president told Congress the Taliban government is providing aid and comfort to Osama bin Laden, a man he said was responsible for the recent bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa.
"Osama bin Laden poses an imminent danger to the people of the United States," Clinton said. "I call on Congress to authorize offensive action against a known terrorist state."
Clinton acknowledged that his plan might find little support both at home and abroad, but said that was not his primary concern.
"I took an oath to protect and defend the American people," Clinton said. "This war is necessary to keep the American people safe."
Republicans and Democrats alike said they were shocked by the president's address.
GOP leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) suggested that the president was again trying to use the military to divert attention from his domestic policy woes.
"A small, impoverished country a half a world away is no threat to America," Lott said. "The president should be focusing on Social Security, not making war on innocent people."
Lott's counterpart, Senate Minority leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) said the president had not provided enough evidence linking bin Laden to the embassy bombings.
"If there truly is a danger to the United States, the Congress will support the president, but he hasn't made the case yet," Daschle said.
Other politicians, however, immediately attacked the president, accusing him abandoning nearly two centuries of tradition by proposing a pre-emptive war.
"The president's new doctrine will create a wave of violence throughout the world," said Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.). "If we attack Afghanistan, what would stop a country like North Korea from attacking South Korea?
"Afghanistan is not an imminent threat," Biden said. "Congress is very unlikely to pass a resolution authorizing force."