News / Africa

White House: No Decision to Arm Rebels; Obama Considering All Options

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney (file photo)
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney (file photo)

The White House says no decision has been made to provide arms to rebel forces in Libya, but says President Obama is considering all options to help the Libyan people.  A White House statement late Wednesday came amid reports Obama approved a secret authorization in recent weeks for covert efforts to support international actions to protect civilians from attack by forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

News reports late Wednesday quoting unidentified U.S. government sources said President Obama signed an order, known as a presidential finding, within the last two or three weeks to clear the way for a range of possible actions.

Approval of a finding does not necessarily mean weapons are now flowing to Libyan rebels, who on Wednesday were reported to have withdrawn from a key coastal town under attack by Gadhafi forces.

The president would also have to sign off on specific actions, and there was no immediate indication that this had occurred.

In addition, The New York Times also quoting unidentified officials, said the CIA has put an unknown number of operatives into Libya to gather intelligence and make contact with anti-Gadhafi rebels.

The newspaper said the CIA declined comment on the report, which also quoted what it called current and former British officials as saying British special forces and intelligence officers were in Libya.

CNN quoted a U.S. intelligence source as confirming a CIA presence in Libya to increase "military and political understanding" of the situation there.

In his major speech on Libya this week, President Obama said there would be no effort to oust the Libyan leader by military means.  But he has said that supplying arms to opponents of Mr. Gadhafi remains a possibility.

In response to media inquiries, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney issued a statement noting it was common practice to decline comment on intelligence matters.  

Carney reiterated what Mr. Obama said in television interviews the previous day, that no decision has been made about providing arms to the opposition or any group in Libya.

However, Carney said this is not being ruled out or in, adding that the administration "is and reviewing options for all types of assistance that we could provide to the Libyan people, and have consulted directly with the opposition and our international partners about these matters."

Earlier in the White House news briefing, Carney responded this way to reporters asking what specific considerations President Obama is wrestling with regarding any potential decision to provide other than non-lethal assistance to rebels.

"The broader question of assistance to the opposition is one that we are looking at very closely," said Carney. "We are coordinating with the opposition and exploring ways we can assist them with non-lethal assistance and we will look at other possibilities of assistance as we move forward."

Carney said Mr. Obama is committed not just to quick action, but making the right choices for the long-term.  The president, he added, is not going to rush into anything without carefully considering desired outcomes and how U.S. help can be most effective.

Reporters noted that conditions on the ground in Libya have changed even since President Obama's major speech on Libya this past Monday, with rebels losing ground to Gadhafi forces.

On concerns about possible al-Qaida influence or presence among Libyan rebel forces, Carney said the U.S. and partners in the international coalition continue to evaluate the makeup of the Libyan opposition.

News of the reported presidential finding came as administration officials, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the military Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper briefed U.S. lawmakers on Libya.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs