WASHINGTON -- Senior Democrats and Republicans in Congress urged the Clinton administration yesterday to take military action against Iraq if it is shown that its government plotted to assassinate former President George Bush in Kuwait last month.
"We should retaliate," Rep. Lee H. Hamilton, an Indiana Democrat who heads the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said on the NBC News program "Meet the Press." "We cannot tolerate that kind of an action against a former president of the United States. It's just outrageous."
Sen. Richard G. Lugar, an Indiana Republican, said on the same program that a military response "is the only thing that Iraq would understand."
The White House said Saturday that law enforcement agencies had sent investigators to Kuwait to determine whether Iraq tried to kill Mr. Bush in retaliation for his role in forging the coalition against Baghdad in the Persian Gulf war.
Kuwaiti officials have accused 17 people, including 11 Iraqis, of conspiracy to kill Mr. Bush and to conduct "other acts of terrorism, infiltration and robbery." Sixteen of the suspects are in custody in Kuwait.
Iraqi officials have ridiculed the accusations. In a statement issued in Amman, Jordan, Saturday and reported by Reuters, Iraqi Information Minister Hamed Youssef Hammadi said: "The sheiks of Kuwait, in coordination with American intelligence, are plotting another deception to fool American public opinion in order to justify a new aggression on Iraq and tighten the economic siege imposed on it."
On the CBS News program "Face the Nation" yesterday, Rep. Newt Gingrich, a Georgia Republican, urged Iraq's military to "drive Saddam Hussein out of power."