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. Chuck

    Oh boo hoo, the US wasn't the first country to come out and say something about this. I bet McCain would have made a comment one hour after the events unfolded. Face it, no matter what the President does, the right wing will criticize him. If he had made a comment within an hour, everyone would be shouting at him focusing on another country instead of his own. It's pathetic.

    February 27, 2011 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  2. Enigma

    Dumb and Dumber, do these old farts ever stop whining. McCain is still angry over losing the election, get over it!! The president will never be able to please McCain.

    February 27, 2011 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  3. Jay

    These two senators could never be pleased as long as someone else is president.

    February 27, 2011 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  4. paul

    Mr McCAIN is clearly the man we should have for president, he is the man we should have voted for, next elelection lets all stand behind this man, he knows how to lead a country, he knows compassion, he opposes brutal regimes, we need someone to bring those country,s over there to-gether for the betterment of thier people,

    February 27, 2011 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  5. Randy, San Francisco

    GOP politicians like to play politics with everthing the Obama administration does, even to the detriment of the country. The critics would have tailored a different message if Obama had taken a stronger stance earlier causing American hostages to be taken.

    February 27, 2011 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  6. patriot

    Dumb and dumber.....neither are credible.

    February 27, 2011 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  7. diridi

    Obama is doing what is exactly needed to be done....these two idiots do not have any other work...they are senile....what do you expect out of these two idiots...o.k. Their brain is rust and rotten...It is people who needs democracy in middle eastern block of nations. o.k. These two idiots think we can bring oil for free from Mommar keeping that monster in position. It is people that are fed up and need democracy....I do not wonder if Saudi Arabia has revolt from King ruling...Wake up, Joe Lieberman, and John McCain, you both are idiots...o.k. Obama is doing fine...

    February 27, 2011 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  8. Davo

    I'm glad these clowns didn't get elected. It's about time we stay out of other countries business. Why do "we" need to be the World police? Although I don't agree with Obama's fiscal policies, he's spot on with his reaction to the mid east situation. Let them sort out their own issues without our intervention! and don't give me this Sean Hannity doom and gloom BS. We need to worry about the US, not every other skirmish going on in the world.

    February 27, 2011 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  9. larry in Pa

    Obama had to be very careful what he said while 600 american citizens were trying to evauate out of Libya. I beleive his 1st concern was not to have a repeat of the hostage crisis this country endured in 1979 with Iran for 444 days. Mccain & Leiberman are just using this crisis to make political points and do not help solve the problem. When is Mccain going to finally get it? The situation in Libya is very serious, it is a civil war going on there. We can only do so much, the Libyan people have to work this out.. I dont think we can go in to Libya militarily and get out quickly... we cannot be the policeman of the world... Gadhafi is a dictator who is not rational and is capable and willing to murder whoever threatens his grip on power. This could turn into another somalia... there are no easy fixes for this...

    February 27, 2011 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  10. MrMike

    Leiberman is not running for reelection because he doesn't have the support of his constituents. He is irrelevant.
    McCain is a warmongerer who is in the backpocket of the military-industrial complex. They will get rich and he will get bigger dividends. Definitely not the MAVERICK he claimed to be. America has a bright future – we are not the world's policeman. Listen to the President of the United States and the Secretary of Defense. Get over it guys. Take your Geratol and take a nap.

    February 27, 2011 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  11. Sue

    What is it that these two men don't understand?! The U.S. had a boat-load of our citizens unable to pull away from Libya due to inclement weather. Perhaps Senators McCain and Lieberman thought we should have taken the chance of antagonizing the Libyan regime, which is by the way led by a madman, and risked the lives of our citizens simply to prove that the US is tough! I think not! It is no coincidence that as soon as that boat was able to depart, the President came out with severe criticism against Gadhafi. As a former republican (never to be again!) I am glad it was President Obama in charge and NOT Senator McCain!

    February 27, 2011 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  12. Jay

    If Obama reacts quickly, it's too quick for republicans. If Obama reacts too slowly, it's why is he dragging his feet? If he reacts to Walker in Wisconsin, it's ...he has no business in state affairs. If he doesn't react to Walker in Wisconsin, it's..why doesn't he do something? Maybe it's time we do some Monday Quarterbacking for McCain, and let him know he should never call his wife a c__t, especially in public. And Joe, you should never cry when you lose......especially now...get used to it.

    February 27, 2011 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  13. KatR

    We've got democracy problems in our own country. It was trampled on by our govt's Patriot Act, a fascist reaction to 9/11 and capped off by invading Iraq. America is no longer the world leader that McCain seems to think we are. Most likely because we ourselves used military troops to force others to bend to our will. I am so sick that the majority of residents in my state voted this old man to serve another 6 years.

    February 27, 2011 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  14. Veritas

    Ghadafi should step down. Thats the correct thing to do if he truly loves his country. If not then more will die needlessly. Of course mcCain would say that because hes from the war mongering party who would rather spend untold billions on the military than bring our troops home and spend the money on our own country, fixing the eight year regime of w. and his rain of bullsh!t. we do not need to police the world PERIOD!

    February 27, 2011 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  15. John

    Lead, or get out of the way. Listening to Hip-Hop in the White House, while people are dying in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lybia, and on the oceans of the world, is no way to lead. The world burned while Barak fiddled. (Rome burned while Nero fiddled).

    February 27, 2011 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  16. LEE SMITH lost your races to be president and vice president...shut-up bitter old hypocrites!!!!

    February 27, 2011 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  17. Andy

    Both of these Senators are advocating aiding and arming the opposition. Do we know what kind of government they will form? Will they be Pro or Anti West? Fundamentalist Muslims or just eventually another Dictatorship? We don't know, do we. So, we offer moral support and let the chips fall where they may. Any talk of arming the rebels is a terrible idea....time to keep our noses out of it. I'm not even close to a big Obama supporter but on the Libyan rebellions, he has played all the right cards.

    February 27, 2011 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  18. tet1953

    We all know that these people would be criticizing the administration no matter what course they took. That's just the nature of politics in DC. What is sad is that it isn't all that different than Al Jezeera bemoaning the U.S. interference in Arab affairs, but then questing why we haven't more decisively in Libya (Wolfowicz mentioned this on GPS today).

    February 27, 2011 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  19. Tony in Maine

    The President, being intelligent, caring and not a warmongering Republican, decided to wait until American civilian oil field workers had been removed from harms way. Of course, he who has no real credentials except being a legacy Naval officer, has to shoot off his mouth since HE has nothing to lose.

    February 27, 2011 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  20. Rich

    McCain is becoming more and more of a clown.

    February 27, 2011 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  21. Re-elect?

    And yet Arizona keeps re-electing this old war-monger rather than evolve and get someone with brain power.

    February 27, 2011 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  22. evelyn

    Bassman, they did carry Palin reckless, air-headed statement – while 1000 Americans were still in Libya. Nothing like that big-mouth drama queen risking American lives!

    Pay attention stupid.

    February 27, 2011 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  23. chris

    lmao , yeah take it from dumb an dumber , nice job idiots. no credit from loseman , mccant , you psyoped douche bags . or is it leiberjew , just cuz he is bashing him for a Israel enemy

    February 27, 2011 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  24. oilmannn

    Barry is always been Slow out of the box. Too busy campaigning for 2012 to worry about the small details.

    February 27, 2011 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  25. kelly

    Senator McCain, good thing your are not President. Your big mouth would get the United States in a war. We don't have any more war funds!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 27, 2011 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
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