Senators criticize Obama over Libya
February 27th, 2011
09:04 AM ET
11 years ago

Senators criticize Obama over Libya

(CNN) – Two leading U.S. senators were both critical Sunday of President Barack Obama's delay in speaking out over the uprising in Libya.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Obama should "stand up for democracy" and noted that the British prime minister and French president were not hesitant to address the crisis.

"America leads," McCain told CNN's "State of the Union" from Cairo. "They're looking to America for leadership, for assistance, for moral support and ratification of the sacrifices they've made in the defense of democracy. America should lead."

Anti-government protests continued Sunday in Libya, where the nation's leader of more than 40 years, Moammar Gadhafi, clings to power in Tripoli after weeks of protests.

On the same program, Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats and chairs the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, said he understood why the administration initially hesitated in speaking out on the crisis in Libya due to concerns about the safety of U.S. citizens there.

"Frankly I wish we had spoken out much more clearly and early against the Gadhafi regime," Lieberman said, adding "the fact is now is the time for action, not just statements."

On Saturday, Obama said Gadhafi "has lost the legitimacy to rule and needs to do what is right for his country by leaving now." Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also issued a statement urging the Libyan leader to step down.

Lieberman said he hoped that new sanctions imposed by the United Nations and the United States are successful, and that the U.S. should aid opposition forces in Libya if they are unable to end the Gadhafi regime on their own.

McCain predicted the end of Gadhafi's rule.

"I think his days are numbered," McCain said. "The question is how many people are going to be massacred between now and when he leaves. We ought to shorten that time frame as much as possible, and I believe we can."

McCain said the United States should help impose a no-fly zone to prevent government aircraft from attacking the Libyan people and should also recognize a provisional government in the east, where anti-Gadhafi forces hold power.

In addition, McCain said, Washington should make clear that Libyan officials involved in attacks on their own people would face war crimes prosecution.

"Get tough," McCain said. However, he stopped short of advocating that U.S. ground forces enter Libya to help oust Gadhafi. Instead, the United States should supply and equip a provisional government, McCain said.

- CNN's Tom Cohen contributed to this report

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

soundoff (97 Responses)
  1. rusty155

    John McCain want to supply and Equip the Libya people, just tell me how we are cutting spending by doing this. This would cost American people Millions of dollar. We are not the WORLD POLICE. Shouldn't we take care of America people first. If you Republican say America is broke , than how can we spend Millions on other Country. Haven't you Republican spend enough on the other two wars. CNN PLEASE PRINT THIS IT THE TRUE.

    February 27, 2011 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  2. Chuck Anaheim, Ca

    We already have two puppet governments in Iraq and Afghanistan we pay for and can't control. These imbeciles want to add another? Do it on the rich folks dime gentlemen by raising THEIR taxes and cutting their entitlements...NOT MINE.

    February 27, 2011 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  3. Don

    Hey John you mean like reading a book about a goat while the trade center gets bombed and sitting there perplexed for 7 minutes before hiding for 24 hours without leading? or telling a reporter to watch this golf shot when asked about his war in Iraq, or how about a nice black tie dinner when Bush made a joke about looking for WMDs and not finding them, you mean something like that?

    February 27, 2011 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  4. Jay

    The GOP has been selling out the USA for years... Start checking out the "Security and Prosperity Partnership" GW Bush sold us out in 2005, and now they have plans to build a super highway from Mexico to Canada. Did you ever wonder why GW Bush didn't want a real fence? Google "Connie Fogal" from Canada and you will see protests that have been going on for years, but you never heard a word. Search "A Special Message from Congressman Tancredo" on you tube. Google "Mexican Military Helicopters Crossing The U.S. Border Congressmen Poe Burton" Who would ever allow that that wanted a fence up?

    February 27, 2011 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  5. majikbunny

    I wonder if both of them critisize their own families on a daily basis, no matter what they do?

    February 27, 2011 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  6. rags anne

    McComplain & 'Lie'-berman, two old farts that shouldn't be in mainstream politics, but rather in an old aged home.
    Get lost, losers!

    February 27, 2011 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  7. Jeremy

    Sure, let's have the President make threatening statements while American citizens are still inside Libya. We all love hostage situations right?

    McCain, you chose Palin to be your Vice President. If anyone needs their head checked, it's YOU.

    February 27, 2011 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  8. Mike Friedman

    The man who would have had Sarah Palin one heartbeat away from being leader of the free world has the audacity to criticize somebody else's judgment?

    February 27, 2011 10:38 am at 10:38 am |

    History Lesson for the ignorant:
    The driving factor in our perception debacle with the Arab world is a direct result of our government propping up false candidates and overthrowing governments with impunity over the last 60 years.

    You want your war with the Muslims? Keep encouraging your western leaders to poke their noses in these countries affairs. You'll surely get your war then.

    Until then dust off your history book. You don't have to dig back very far for this information....which let's me know we're dealing with some real mouth breathers here.

    February 27, 2011 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  10. john ross

    Where is the 6th Fleet? Obama has to rent a ferry to pick up our citizens? You have got to be kidding me. And to morons that post about these bitter old men, consider the fact that this would have/could have been a moment where we demonstrated to the Muslim world we were on the side of the poor and victimized by providing some direct support...regardless of the consequences but Barack "let's check the focus group polling data" Obama hasn't a clue and why should he, he got that Nobel Prize already..he's good to go and order another round of drone strikes

    February 27, 2011 10:38 am at 10:38 am |

    Let's be 100% clear on this one: The second you fund a group of people to overthrow a government using are , by definition, funding terrorism. PERIOD. So at this point why don't we just title this thing "GOP ready to fund terrorism to assist Libyans"

    Funny how that works isn't it?

    February 27, 2011 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  12. mike b

    At least they have the balls to say and do the right thing, obama can not make descion on his own. By the time he thinks about it will be to late for the people left here in America. What has happened to the usa, we have no back bones , no convictions and no faith in mankind at all, to help people in need of a hand, in this situation. Thousands will die if not.

    February 27, 2011 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  13. steven STEVENS

    this artical is a perfect example or what the republican party is all about...they have little regard for the americans that were stuck in libiya...they for get the last hostage situation in libya...obama needed to first be assured that americans were safe and out of the country...then work with the U.N. to heo; safe gardthe people who are clliong for change in their couontry.

    February 27, 2011 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  14. Matt L

    The problem with us going in to the Libyan conflict is that we can't afford to take on another conflict. Another thing is that why can't we just be a wingman to another country that supposedly stepped up as McCain and his croaney spoke about. It is easy for us to talk about being the global police but when you force more servicemembers that are already stretched thin of the already numerous places we are maintaining peace we would have to add another conflict which costs billions of US dollars to move, support and man a conflict of that nature. We need to prioritize our Foreign Policy and stick to those not try to handle everythinng.

    February 27, 2011 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  15. Chett

    I like the idea of a no-fly zone and sanctions, Gadhafi has been a nuisance to Europe and America for quite some time so a show of support and alittle blocking should be a given, however, let us not forget that " equiping and supplying" countries in turmoil has a tendency to haunt us in retrospect, through genocides and post anti-American government....this would be the case for the likes of Cuba, Somalia, Iran, Afghanistan, and many other countries that The U.S. tried to "supply" in order to push out an evil.

    February 27, 2011 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  16. Sajeve Thomas

    When America gets involved with Middle Eastern affairs, we are scorned. Now when one Arab country intentially kills her own people, we are expected to be involved. From a humanitarian perspective, we should...but you would hope that the very same Arab countries that rebuke our involvement would unite together militarily to protect their own "muslim" brother/sister. Obama's decisions have thus far been appropriate. McCain and Lieberman have their own agenda...

    February 27, 2011 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  17. TheMovieFan

    McCain, you are not president.

    February 27, 2011 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  18. Clwyd

    You have to remember that they were both psychologically brainwashed by our military for years!

    February 27, 2011 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  19. Steve

    Our country wants to reduce our budget, how many wars can we fight, how many other areas can we support. Why does the United States have to be to country that gets involved in every other countries business???

    February 27, 2011 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  20. Hiruu

    "Sarah Palin writes: ".It’s a little perplexing looking at the White House today. There was a statement on the horrible earthquake in New Zealand, and certainly our hearts go out to all those affected by this horrible natural disaster. But nothing on the slaughter in Libya?
    Her full statement was writen Feburary 22nd. Five full days earlier. Since our media could not mock her, they ignored her."

    LOL...does Palin even know where Libya is? This dumb cluck didn't even know where Russian was...all these armchair morons yapping about $h@t that they have NO CLUE about.

    February 27, 2011 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  21. Fred

    TERRY from VA; PALIN;PAWLENTY; GINGRICH; Daniels;Huckabee are ALL AMBULANCE-CHASING lunatics. YOU wanted another IRAN HOSTAGE CRISIS like the one that took place in 1979 and Obama did the RIGHT THING by making sure EVERY American citizens left Libya ALIVE and WELL. Once they were safe and out of Libya;he not only condemn Gadhadi but froze his assets but will establish a NO-FLY ZONE. I am glad Obama didn't bow to media and talking head pressure but focused instead on the Americans who could have been held hostage and killed.I t seems McCain and his fellow dangerous idiots are putting politics ahead of the lives of our fellow citizens who were in harms way. THANK GOD for Obama and I am a moderate REPUBLICAN who supports President Obama on this one

    February 27, 2011 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  22. joe

    After all that's happened, these clowns still think US meddling is the solution to every problem, everywhere? It's mind-blowing. They simply will never learn.

    February 27, 2011 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
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