WASHINGTON – Sen. Joseph Lieberman urged the Bush administration to expand its war on terrorism by supporting democratic opponents to President Saddam Hussein of Iraq.
Lieberman, the 2000 Democratic vice presidential candidate, stopped short of calling for an immediate military strike on Iraq.
But the Connecticut senator said there should be a "phase two" of the United States' response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
Since Oct. 7, the United States has been bombing Afghanistan to destroy training camps of Saudi exile Usama bin Laden, the suspected mastermind of the attacks.
The administration should eventually turn its attention to Iraq as a state that is suspected of supporting and harboring terrorists, Lieberman said.
"As long as Saddam is there, Iraq is not just going to be a thorn in our side, but a threat to our lives," Lieberman, D-Conn., told reporters Monday outside a conference of the New Democratic Network, an organization that raises money for centrist Democratic candidates.
Lieberman, a member of the Armed Services Committee, is considering reviving legislation he co-sponsored in 1998 that would authorize the president to provide military training, money for radio and television broadcasting, and humanitarian aid to Iraqi democratic opposition organizations.
The bill's prime sponsor was Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss. Lieberman was an original co-sponsor.
Saddam's ouster has "got to start with more support of the Iraqi opposition, that's the beginning of it," Lieberman said. "At some point, there would be a military component."
While Lieberman is among those who hope to go after Saddam in the wider war President Bush has pledged against terrorists, others -- even some usually outspoken advocates of intervention in Iraq -- have counseled a wait-and-see approach.
"I don't think we should do too much at once here," said Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., senior Republican on a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on the region. "At the appropriate time, we should move forward in pressing for a regime change in Iraq."
The Bush administration is leaving Iraq for another day because it has been unable to link Saddam to the Sept. 11 attacks and is hesitant to alienate Muslim allies in the region. Nevertheless, the administration is watching Saddam "very carefully," Bush said.
Overall, Lieberman has had strong praise for Bush's handling of the crisis. In his speech Monday, he cautioned against giving too much power to allies, saying the United States must be willing to take unilateral action in the ongoing campaign when necessary.