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Senior US Lawmakers Press Obama for Clarity on Libya

William Ide

Senior U.S. lawmakers Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman are urging President Barack Obama to give the American public and Congress a clearer outline of what the United States hopes to achieve in Libya.  Senator Lieberman argues that if President Obama outlined U.S. objectives in Libya more clearly, there would be more congressional support for U.S. involvement in the NATO-led military campaign.  

Republican and Democratic lawmakers are angry with President Obama for not seeking congressional authorization to intervene in Libya.

Late last month, that anger surfaced in the form of two votes in the Republican-dominated U.S. House of Representatives - one to authorize ongoing U.S. military action in Libya and another to cut off funding for U.S. military operations there.

Both measures failed.  But another vote on Libya is expected on Tuesday.

Speaking on the "FOX News Sunday" television program, Senator Joe Lieberman, an independent Democrat from Connecticut, said the Obama administration needs to be clear about America's mission and goals in Libya. "Even though at different times the administration has said that we're not interested in overturning [, i.e., deposing, Libyan leader Moammar] Gadhafi, clearly we are.  This is all about regime change and freeing the people of Libya from another time period when they will be suffering brutal dictatorship," he said.

Lieberman said he believes that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi would step down, if the United States put its strength behind the NATO effort, adding that would be a major step forward. "I know it's complicated and I think, frankly, there wouldn't be as much opposition to our action in Libya, if there was a strong argument being made on behalf of why we are there," he said.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina also appeared on "Fox News Sunday," saying that removing Gadhafi from power is crucial. "If the goal is to protect the Libyan people and their human rights, the best way to do that is to break the Gadhafi's inner circle and get rid of Gadhafi himself," he said.

Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas told "Fox News Sunday" that the political and military goal should be to depose the Libyan leader. "We need a plan from the president, not just a hand-off to NATO and say it’s there problem, not mine.  And then we need, once the American people understand what the goal is, and the means to achieve that goal, then I think we’ll become unified behind this effort," he said.

The rebellion in Libya to depose Moammar Gadhafi and end more than four decades of autocratic rule has dragged on for five-months with no end in sight.  Western powers have backed the rebels in their demand for Gadhafi to step down and have contributed to NATO air strikes on pro-Gadhafi forces to stop them from attacking Libyan civilians.

In late-June, a Gallup public opinion poll found that 46 percent of Americans disapproved of military action in Libya, while 39 percent approved.  Fifteen percent had no opinion.

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