War-powers suit unneeded, Rep. McMillen, 2 others say


WASHINGTON -- Maryland Rep. Tom McMillen, D-4th, says he's confident President Bush would seek congressional authorization to go to war against Iraq.

There's no need to go to court to force Bush to do that, said McMillen, who was reacting to a lawsuit filed yesterday by 45 House Democrats.

One of Maryland's eight House members, Rep. Kweisi Mfume, D-7th, joined the suit, which seeks to enjoin Bush "from launching or initiating an offensive military attack by United States forces against Iraq without obtaining a declaration of war or other explicit authorization from Congress."

Mfume could not be reached immediately for comment. Three Maryland members who could be reached, Reps. McMillen, Benjamin L. Cardin, D-3rd, and Beverly Byron, D-6th, said they also want Bush to seek authorization, but don't believe a suit is necessary.

The three lawmakers still support Bush's Persian Gulf actions, though they said they would like to see more of a multinational national force in place.

"Our objectives are correct," said Cardin. "I would like to see more of a multinational presence. I would like to see more decisions under a multinational flag rather than an American flag."

If Bush were to go to war without Iraq striking the first blow, Cardin said, Americans "would be very divided . . . particularly when there is not unity around the world for such action."

Said Byron, "The administration has been trying to keep Congress very much in the discussions on what has transpired in the gulf."

"I am still very much concerned that the other members of the free world continue to add to their troops," she said. "I think the United Nations is the arena where a great deal of this should be played out and has been."

Though she said Bush does not now "blanketly" have the justification to go to war, "I don't think you can make an assessment on that until you look at the circumstances that would provoke that action . . . we're looking at a volatile situation that changes daily."

McMillen said that, while Bush "is trying to maintain his options," the present situation can't go on indefinitely. "Obviously, there has to be some point in time when a longer term policy has to be decided."

What point in time? "I'm not privy enough to military deliberations to make an assessment on that," McMillen said.

McMillen said he supports Bush's position that Iraq get out of Kuwait. "I think that has to be one of your objectives, otherwise you are rewarding indiscriminate aggression around the world," he said.

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