Gates, Clinton: Libya not a 'vital interest,' but US could be there for months
Secretary of Defense Gates and Secretary of State Clinton say the US-led military action in Libya is going well. But while Libya is not a 'vital interest,' the US could be there for months.
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“I firmly believe that when innocent people are being brutalized; when someone like Qaddafi threatens a bloodbath that could destabilize an entire region; and when the international community is prepared to come together to save many thousands of lives, then it's in our national interest to act," Obama said Saturday.Skip to next paragraph
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While Obama and senior administration officials keep insisting that Qaddafi must go, making that happen for a dictator who’s held onto power through fear, bribes, and tribal manipulation for 42 years is not easy.
Should Qaddafi himself be targeted?
That’s raised the question of targeting Qaddafi for assassination, a possibility put forth over the weekend by former UN Ambassador John Bolton – a man with a reputation for being exceedingly hawkish, even within the Bush administration.
In his closed-door meeting with members of Congress Friday, Obama said there are no plans to use the US military to assassinate Qaddafi, according to Politico.com.
Over the years, presidents of both parties have issued executive orders banning the assassination of foreign leaders. But executive orders, which do not have the force of law, can be reversed.
Following the 1986 bombing of a German disco, which killed two American servicemen and injured dozens more – and which was blamed on Libya, based on intercepted messages – then-president Ronald Reagan ordered retaliatory strikes against Tripoli and Benghazi.
Qaddafi survived the attack on his compound, but scores of other people were killed, including the Libyan leader’s 15 month-old daughter.
Twelve years later, Qaddafi apparently retaliated. Libyan agents under orders from Qaddafi planted a bomb on Pan Am Flight 103. The explosion over Lockerbie, Scotland, killed 270 people on the passenger jetliner and on the ground.
Was that an attempt to kill Qaddafi?
No, US officials say, it was just a place where a military command-and-control facility happened to be.