A dozen local residents protested two U.S. missile attacks Thursday against a chemical factory in Sudan and terrorist training camps in Afghanistan linked to renegade Saudi millionaire Osama bin Laden.

The group gathered in front of the Federal Building in Salt Lake City to discuss their concerns about the escalation of antagonism between the United States and the Muslim world.Making reference to the film "Wag the Dog," in which the president creates a fictional war to cover up a sexual scandal, the group decried the bombings as an attempt by President Clinton to turn public attention away from his admission of having an affair with Monica Lewinsky.

Clinton "is in a lot of trouble and he wants to make up for his mistakes," said Trace Barney, who teamed up with two friends to fill an oversized costume representing the "specter of death."

Even though terrorists took the lead in this "wave of violence" by carrying out twin bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, there is no excuse for the bloodshed of more innocent people, said Scott Fife.

"I think it's the opening guns

of World War III," Fife said. "I think violence creates violence. . . . This is asinine that we are acting this way at the end of the 20th century."

It is strange Clinton decided to retaliate three days after he admitted to the Monica Lewinsky scandal, said Diana Lee Hirschi, who helped organize the protest. "I don't know if it was because of (the scandal), but it certainly appears that way."

Overall, Thursday's attacks "made me sick," Hirschi said. Instead of spending billions on weapons every year to bomb poor countries, the United States should spend the money on food and humanitarian aid to help them, which would in turn decrease terrorists attacks, she said.

It's hypocritical for the United States to destroy chemical weapons in other nations while we have so many at home, said Brooke Merrell.

"Responding to their acts with more acts of terrorism won't resolve the political conflicts in those nations," she said.

The way the United States imposes democracy and capitalism on other countries results in terrorist acts against it, Hirschi said.

"My government is the biggest terror in the world," she said. "We're holding the world hostage (economically)."