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US Lawmakers Respond to Latest NATO Attacks on Libya

  • Michael Bowman

In this photo made on a government organized tour, Libyans inspect damage while standing next to an unexploded missile at the Gadhafi family compound in a residential area of Tripoli, Libya, May 1, 2011

In this photo made on a government organized tour, Libyans inspect damage while standing next to an unexploded missile at the Gadhafi family compound in a residential area of Tripoli, Libya, May 1, 2011

U.S. legislators of both parties are affirming support for NATO airstrikes that reportedly killed one of Libyan leader Colonel Moammar Gadhafi’s sons and three of his grandchildren.

In 1986, Moammar Gadhafi survived U.S. airstrikes on Libyan military installations as well as the leader’s residence in Triploi. If current reports from Libya are accurate, Colonel Gadhafi has again survived air attacks that killed several family members.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is applauding NATO’s actions.

"I support what NATO did," he said. "I thought this was a good use of the mandate. This is the way to end this [conflict]. Thousands of people are subject to dying, the longer this takes. No one in the world is going to regret Gadhafi being replaced, however you do it. I want to thank NATO for expanding the scope of these operations."

Graham, who spoke on the Fox News Sunday television program, was an early advocate of international support for Libyan rebels who rose up against Moammar Gadhafi earlier this year.

A Libyan government spokesman has labeled the air strikes as a deliberate assassination attempt. Senator Graham says NATO has nothing for which to apologize.

"Wherever Gadhafi goes is a legitimate military target. He is the command-and-control source [of Libyan forces], he added. "He is not the legitimate leader of Libya. In my view, he is a murderer. He is killing his own people; he is acting outside of international law. He should be brought to justice or killed."

Appearing on CBS’ Face the Nation program, Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona said he regrets any loss of innocent life in Libya, but reaffirmed his support for ousting Colonel Gadhafi.

Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Democratic Senator Kent Conrad also voiced support for ongoing NATO operations.

"Gadhafi has got to go," he said. "I have said repeatedly I think you go after the pillars of his power. And the pillars of his power are the regiments that are controlled by his sons, the mercenaries he has brought in from other countries, his money, and his tribe. I believe all of those should be targeted and aggressively gone after. You cannot allow him to continue."

Conrad acknowledged his understanding of U.S. law is that individuals are not to be targeted militarily. But he said going after Colonel Gadhafi’s military support structure is entirely legitimate, actions that could result in the death of the Libyan leader himself.

British Prime Minister David Cameron says NATO is targeting Libyan command and control units, not individuals.

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