WASHINGTON – House Majority Leader Dick Armey says an attack against Iraq would violate international law, and it's his opinion that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein should be contained, not attacked.
The Texas Republican made the comments to reporters while on a campaign swing for a House candidate.
"I don't believe that America will justifiably make an unprovoked attack on another nation," Armey said.
Armey's comments are the first from a prominent Republican leader voicing unease about the growing consensus that the Bush administration will move to take out Saddam.
"My own view would be to let him bluster, let him rant and rave all he wants and let that be a matter between him and his own country," Armey said. "As long as he behaves himself within his own borders, we should not be addressing any attack or resources against him."
At Crawford, Texas, where President Bush is vacationing, deputy White House press secretary Scott McClellan said that to comment directly on Armey's remarks would be to "speculate on hypotheticals."
"The president had not made a decision," McClellan added. "As he has said, he is keeping all options open and he will consult with Congress," as promised, if decisions are made.
Armey went on to say that if the United States acts against Saddam without proper provocation, other nations will not lend their support. Carrying out such an attack would represent "not what we have been as a nation ... or what we should be," he said.
Unlike the Bush administration, Armey did not talk about Saddam's appetite for weapons of mass destruction.
Wednesday, President Bush promised to consult Congress before moving forward with any attack. During a congressional hearing last week, some senators expressed a bit of unease about an attack on Iraq, but Armey's are the first comments by a prominent Republican leader that the United States should not move forward with a pre-emptive strike against Saddam.
Armey is retiring at the end of this term.
Meanwhile, six Iraqi opposition leaders met with officials from the Defense and State Departments Friday, talking about a post-Saddam Iraq. From sources inside Iraq, these opposition leaders say Saddam is getting ready for war.
Sharif Ali, a lead member of the Iraqi National Congress, said Saddam stands alone while the anti-Saddam coalition would present a united front. Those groups have militants willing to help the U.S. forces take Saddam down, and it will happen more easily than many -- including some military experts -- suspect.
"The entirety of Iraq is opposed to Saddam Hussein," he said, mentioning specifically the Republican Guard units that are sometimes described as the backbone of Saddam's support.
Saddam said Thursday his forces would dispose quickly of any invading force. "The forces of evil will carry their coffins on their backs to die in disgraceful failure," the Iraqi leader said.
Fox News' Bret Baier and the Associated Press contributed to this report.