© St. Petersburg Times, published February 13, 2002
An option for Iraq: "regime change"
Secretary of State Colin Powell said Tuesday that the Bush administration continues to examine options for forcing Iraqi President Saddam Hussein from power but that President Bush's senior advisers have yet to offer him a recommendation on how to promote "regime change" in Baghdad.
With speculation running high that Bush had signaled a coming military conflict with Iraq, Powell said the administration has no immediate intention to go to war with any of the three countries singled out by Bush as members of the "axis of evil" -- Iraq, Iran and North Korea.
"The president has made no decisions ... and no recommendations on his desk even though as a matter of prudence we should be examining options with respect to all of these countries," Powell said.
Al Gore, re-entering America's foreign policy debate, said Tuesday night that the time had come to oust President Saddam Hussein in a "final reckoning" with Iraq, describing the country as a "virulent threat in a class by itself."
But while praising Bush's performance since Sept. 11, he raised questions about how Bush had worked with other nations in the war in Afghanistan and against al-Qaida, showing "impatience and disdain" toward U.S. allies.
Also in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City, Gore said other dangerous forces have to be reckoned with, such as poverty, ignorance, environmental problems, disease, corruption and political oppression.
EUROPEAN CAUTIONS: The German foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, warned the Bush administration Tuesday not to treat U.S. allies like satellite states in some new empire or to move unilaterally against countries like Iraq.
Fischer, a Green with a strong pro-American reputation, joined his French counterpart, Hubert Vedrine, in slamming what they view as the simplistic formulation by Bush of the "axis of evil."
NEW LEGAL TEAM: The Justice Department has created a team of lawyers headed by Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson to oversee court challenges to the government's policy of detaining terrorism suspects indefinitely at a military base in Cuba, administration officials said Tuesday.
The move, they said, reflected the determination of Attorney General John Ashcroft to use the government's most experienced lawyers to block legal challenges that might force changes in the policy, which has been criticized by civil liberties groups and some constitutional scholars.