President Obama took a quick dip in the ocean Sunday, but his fourth day of vacation was no day at the beach.
As Obama hit the sand and surf of Edgartown beach on Martha’s Vineyard, then later played a round of golf, historic events were unfolding more than 4,000 miles away in Libya. Rebel fighters entered Tripoli and took control of most of the capital away from Libyan ruler Moammar Gaddafi.
When Obama left for his 10-day vacation Thursday, White House aides stressed that the president would never truly be away from the job, getting regular briefings on world events and the domestic economy from his advisers. Throughout Sunday, chief counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan briefed Obama, aides said, and by day’s end, the president felt compelled to issue a statement on the Libyan developments.
Obama began his day with a morning outing to the beach with his wife and daughters, then played the back nine at the Vineyard Golf Club with Chicago pal Dr. Eric Whitaker, White House trip director Marvin Nicholson and UBS America executive Robert Wolf. No word on what Obama’s score was.
In the evening, the president and first lady Michelle Obama went to a seafood restaurant, then retired to the Oak Bluffs home of White House adviser Valerie Jarrett. By then, his aides had arranged a conference call to more fully brief him on the dramatic developments in Libya.
On the call, which took place shortly after 9 p.m. Sunday, were Chief of Staff William M. Daley, National Security Adviser Thomas E. Donilon, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, and several others.
The president asked for updates throughout the night and was scheduled to be briefed again Monday morning, deputy press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.
At 10:11 p.m., the White House e-mailed to reporters a statement from Obama, and shortly after 11 p.m, the president’s motorcade made the 18-minute drive from Jarrett’s house back to his rental compound, Blue Heron Farm.
Read the president’s full statement after the jump.
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 21, 2011
Statement of President Barack Obama
Tonight, the momentum against the Qadhafi regime has reached a tipping point. Tripoli is slipping from the grasp of a tyrant. The Qadhafi regime is showing signs of collapsing. The people of Libya are showing that the universal pursuit of dignity and freedom is far stronger than the iron fist of a dictator.
The surest way for the bloodshed to end is simple: Moammar Qadhafi and his regime need to recognize that their rule has come to an end. Qadhafi needs to acknowledge the reality that he no longer controls Libya. He needs to relinquish power once and for all. Meanwhile, the United States has recognized the Transitional National Council as the legitimate governing authority in Libya. At this pivotal and historic time, the TNC should continue to demonstrate the leadership that is necessary to steer the country through a transition by respecting the rights of the people of Libya, avoiding civilian casualties, protecting the institutions of the Libyan state, and pursuing a transition to democracy that is just and inclusive for all of the people of Libya. A season of conflict must lead to one of peace.
The future of Libya is now in the hands of the Libyan people. Going forward, the United States will continue to stay in close coordination with the TNC. We will continue to insist that the basic rights of the Libyan people are respected. And we will continue to work with our allies and partners in the international community to protect the people of Libya, and to support a peaceful transition to democracy.