CBSN

Saddam Next?

Vice Admiral Willy Moore, left, the commander of the Fifth Fleet, talks to U.S. Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Fred Thompson, R-Tenn, right, as they watch planes being launched from the deck of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2002, for combat missions over Afghanistan.
AP
The United States should consider attacking Iraq and ousting Saddam Hussein after its campaign in Afghanistan, senior U.S. senators said Wednesday.

The comments came as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., and several other senators visited this aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea.

"Next up Baghdad!" McCain yelled during a tour of the flight bridge.

Later McCain told a reporter that Iraq presents "a clear and present danger" to the United States.

"I think Iraq is going to have to be considered" as a target after Afghanistan, McCain said.

Before taking military action, the United States should give Iraq every opportunity to show it has disposed of weapons of mass destruction, he said.

Hawks have been pressing the Bush administration to take on Saddam. They say the Iraqi president is rebuilding the chemical and biological weapons programs he was supposed to dismantle after the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

McCain is touring the region with eight other senators, including Joseph Lieberman.

Lieberman, D-Conn., said that for many Americans, the war against terrorism will not be over until Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the Sept. 11 attacks, has been killed or captured.

Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., said the United States should have international backing for any military action in Iraq.

"I think it would be wrong, very shortsighted and very dangerous for the United States to unilaterally move on Iraq," he said.

However, he said, it is clear the Iraqi president is a threat and "is going to have to go."

Thompson said all states that harbor terrorists must be dealt with, not just Iraq. He mentioned the African nation of Somalia.

Whether or not Saddam is directly connected to the events of Sept. 11, he has ties to al-Qaida and "we have to address it," Thompson said.

The senators spent about three hours on the USS Theodore Roosevelt, meeting senior naval officers and addressing the crew from a stage in the giant hangar deck.

©MMII The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed