[JURIST] White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer commented on the President's legal case for war against Iraq at a press briefing Wednesday afternoon:
He believes, number one, based on the reviews conducted by the attorneys, that there already exists a legal basis both in international law, as well as in domestic law, for the use of force to disarm Saddam Hussein. And that is also found in Security Council Resolution 678 and 687, as well as 1441. The President also believes that there is a gathering threat from Iraq, that with the failure by Saddam Hussein to disarm of his weapons of mass destruction presents a threat to the security of the United States. And therefore, he has come to the conclusion that after exhausting the diplomacy, that military force must be used if Saddam Hussein does not get out of the country.Read the full briefing transcript, now available from the White House.
That summarizes it for him. In terms of precedents...I think some people have made the case -- and different people will have different historical views of these things -- but you can look at the Cuban missile crisis, of course, where there was a decision made without the United States being "attacked" to conduct a quarantine or an embargo, which, of course, international lawyers will tell you is an act of war.
And so I think you're going to find the historians, legal scholars will have differing conclusions about these matters. But the conclusion the President reaches is that Iraq's failure to disarm presents a threat to the people of the United States and, therefore, he is prepared to use force.