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Eagleburger questions possible Iraqi move

Former secretary of state cites timing

Former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger says he's
Former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger says he's "not at all convinced" now is the time to attack Iraq.  


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger said Thursday President Bush has not yet made a convincing case that now is the time to take military action against Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

"I am not at all convinced now that this is something we have to do this very moment," said Eagleburger, who served in the White House administration of the president's father.

In an interview with CNN, Eagleburger made it clear that he was not opposed to ousting the Iraqi leader at some point, but he questioned the timing of such a move.

"We need to understand that if and when we do take Saddam on, we will have to do it with massive force as we did the last time around simply to be sure that we can do it successfully," he said. "Then we need to understand, if we get him out of office, we'll probably have to stay there in Iraq for some period of time. All of those things need to be made clear to the American people. I'm not opposed to getting him when the time is appropriate." Evidence that Saddam had developed weapons of mass destruction could accelerate that timetable, Eagleburger said.

Eagleburger becomes the latest Republican to publicly question the Bush administration's planning on Iraq. Others include Brent Scowcroft, who was national security adviser to Bush's father; House Majority Leader Dick Armey; and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Wednesday, Bush said it was "in the interest of the world" to end the regime of the Iraqi leader, but he suggested that military action was not imminent.

"When I say I'm a patient man, I mean I'm a patient man," he told reporters after a meeting at his Crawford, Texas ranch with his top military advisers. Bush said that "all options" are on the table for dealing with Iraq, but he said the subject of Iraq did not come up at that meeting.

The administration won a ringing endorsement Wednesday from House Majority Leader Whip Tom DeLay, who derided what he called the "apologists for idleness" and said the United States must act against the Iraqi leader.

"Until Saddam Hussein's regime topples, our national security will suffer an unwise and unacceptable risk. Saddam must go, and the sooner, the better," the Texas Republican said in a speech.