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Thursday, 1 August, 2002, 05:00 GMT 06:00 UK
Scepticism over Iraq attack plans
Osama bin Laden: Wanted Dead or Alive T-Shirt
Americans think al-Qaeda is still the priority

As debate began in the US Senate about a possible attack on Iraq, people on the streets of Washington expressed scepticism about military action.

They said that President Bush had not made the case that Iraq posed a threat to the US.

Protestors in Washington
Protesters say rebuilding at home should come before attacking Iraq
Just blocks from the White House, a few hundred protesters from New York gathered.

They were calling on the US Government to help low-income workers who lost their jobs following the 11 September attacks.

David Wang held a sign in Chinese that said: "Healthcare not toxic air."

The protesters want the government to provide healthcare for those who suffered respiratory illness as a result of the debris thrown up by the collapse of the twin towers.

Mr Wang questioned the government's priorities.

"The government is more interested in building memorials and spending money on defence contracts, building more planes to drop bombs on Iraq or Afghanistan, than in helping people affected by the attacks," he said.

'Time not right'

John Cohen was enjoying his break from work in Lafayette Park across from the White House. He thinks that military action against Iraq would be premature.

"It's a very drastic action, and I'm not sure that the threat posed by Saddam Hussein at the moment justifies the effort that it would take to depose him," he said.

He does believe that the Iraqi leader poses a threat to the US and the surrounding region with biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.

"Something needs to be done," said Mr Cohen, but he added that the time is not right for an attack on Iraq while there was continued US involvement in Afghanistan.

'Concentrate on economy'

Across the park, another man who gave his name as Noland said he was concerned that a major invasion of Iraq "would have disastrous consequences on how we're viewed in the world".

The United States could find itself isolated if it launched a major attack against Iraq, he said, alienated from its European allies and Arab states.

And he added: "I don't think our government has made a case for a full scale attack on Iraq.

"No-one has really explained what the imminent threat is."

And if President Bush were to launch an attack without convincing Congress and the American public, Noland said, political support would dry up if there was retaliation or economic hardship.

And Rhonda Bolton said that the US had other things to worry about, such as the economy.

"We have quite a mess on our hands economy-wise," she said, referring to the accounting scandals and the accountability of some members of the Bush administration in question.


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31 Jul 02 | Americas
30 Jul 02 | Americas
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