GOP senator proposes giving missiles to Libyan rebels
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) thinks it’s time to take the fight in Libya to the next level.
The senior senator from South Carolina said Sunday that the U.S. should directly target embattled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi with airstrikes. He also suggested that the opposition forces should be given U.S.-built Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire command data link, guided (TOW) missiles.
“I think it’s time to go directly after Gaddafi,” he told CBS’ Bob Schieffer. “If you had TOW missiles given to the rebels in Libya, they could fight the tanks in addition to air power, but this strategy that President Obama has come up with, I think, is not going to defeat a determined enemy.”
“So this strategy is going to lead to a stalemate. We should be taking the fight to Tripoli. You don’t need ground troops but we should take the air campaign to Tripoli to go Gaddafi’s inner circle. They live like kings. Go after them, to go after their propaganda machine. The way to end this war is to have Gaddafi’s inner circle to crack. The way to get his inner circle to crack is to go after them directly.”
“You say what we need to do is air strikes on Gaddafi and his people?” Schieffer asked.
“Absolutely. I think he’s an international war criminal,” Graham said. “The strategy should be to help the rebels help themselves. To take the best air force in the world and park it during this fight is outrageous. When we called for a no-fly zone, we didn’t mean our planes… As much as I respect our NATO allies, you take a lot of capacity off the table by grounding our airplanes.”
“You’re ready to give missiles to the rebels there?” Shieffer pressed.
“I think TOW missiles — I’m ready to look at arming them to help them help themselves. We need America air power back into the fight and we need to take the fight to Tripoli,” Graham insisted.
Obama has reportedly signed a presidential directive authorizing the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to conduct secret operations to support the Libyan opposition forces.
“I’m not ruling it out,” the president said last week when Brian Williams asked him about arming the rebels. “But, I’m also not ruling it in.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Sunday that the U.S. should hold off providing arms to the opposition forces.
“I spoke to the president yesterday about this, President Obama, and I think at this stage we really don’t know who the leaders of this rebel group is,” he told Schieffer.
“We have others, as [Defense] Secretary Gates has said, that can do it more easily than we can,” Reid added. “So I think at this stage let’s just wait and see.”
This video is from CBS’ Face the Nation, broadcast April 3, 2011.