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[casi] Powell Says Saddam Can Avert Ouster

Is Powell meaning what he is saying or is he playing good cop to Rumsfeld's
bad cop and the policy has not changed in any way at all? I'm inclined to
believe the latter.
Powell: Saddam can avert ouster

By Barbara Slavin, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Colin Powell suggested Wednesday that
President Bush's policy of "regime change" in Iraq could leave Saddam Hussein
in power if he disarms fully.

Though Powell said he was simply echoing statements by President Bush, his
comments went a step further and marked the first time a high-ranking
administration official has suggested Iraq's regime could change its ways and
not its leader.

"The issue is disarmament," Powell told USA TODAY's editorial board. "If you
can get the (weapons) inspectors back in, that can make sure under a
tightened, tough regime, with consequences for failure to perform, you can
disarm this society. ... Then in effect you have a different kind of regime
no matter who's in Baghdad."

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer denied that Powell had shifted U.S.
policy. "Do you honestly believe that all these conditions can be met by
Saddam Hussein?" he said.

Bush administration officials, including Powell, have said they doubt Iraq
will cooperate with new arms inspections. But the secretary of State's
comments were softer than those of the president, who has repeatedly said the
only sure way to disarm Iraq is to get rid of Saddam. Fleischer even
suggested Tuesday that Iraqis assassinate the dictator.

In the Rose Garden on Wednesday, Bush said he hoped it would be possible to
avoid war. But he vowed the United States "will not leave the future of peace
and the security of America in the hands of this cruel and dangerous man."

Powell's toned-down language fostered new confusion about administration
policy on Iraq. It could be a sign that Powell, a dove on other issues, is
distancing himself from administration hard-liners. Or it could be a tactical
effort to gain support for a U.S.-backed United Nations resolution that
threatens swift use of military force if Iraq fails to comply with
inspectors. Key U.S. allies are balking at the threat of quick force.

Administration hard-liners said privately a year ago that they hoped to craft
new inspections guidelines so intrusive that Saddam would never comply. In
the interview, Powell denied that was U.S. strategy now.

"My instructions from the president were to work in a way to get compliance,"
he said.

Contributing: Laurence McQuillan
© Copyright 2002 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

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