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President Bush and Iraq

Springfield, MO President Bush's lawyers say he can attack Iraq without congressional approval despite provisions tothe contrary in the war powers act. KSMU's Missy Shelton has perspectives on this issue from three local experts.

Aides of President Bush tell the Washington post the president believes he can attack Iraq without congressional approval.

Since Congress passed the war powers act in 1973, presidents have ignored it because they believe it's unconstitutional'it requires the president to notify congress within 48 hours of deploying troops'Congress then has a window of time during which they can bring the troops back.

Dr. William Van Cleaves is head of the defense and strategic studies department at southwest Missouri state university.

He says the war powers act is unconstitutional and so, the president needs no congressional action to launch an attack'but he says the president needs lawmakers' support for political reasons.

But at least one scholar in Springfield disagrees.

Dr. Alice Bartee is a political science professor at SMS who specializes in constitutional law.

Bartee points out that historically, legislative bodies have wanted to hold the executive branch in check.

Beyond the discussion of the war powers act, lawyers for President Bush say congressional approval of an attack on Iraq remains in place from 1991. That's when Bush's father sought congressional support for the gulf war.

Van Cleave says congress has reinforced that 1991 resolution since last year's attacks.

Whether the president legally needs congressional approval or not, SMS political science Professor Joel Paddock says it would be wise to seek it.

He says given the lack of support abroad for an attack on Iraq, it's even more critical for the president to have support here at home.

On Monday, the Bush Camp said they believe congressional approval is not necessary for an attack on Iraq. That announcement comes on the same day Vice President Dick Cheney said any delay in removing Iraq president Saddam Hussein will have devastating consequences.