State of the Union (CNN)

Sen. Joseph Lieberman on Libya: ‘It’s late, but it’s not too late’

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen provided an update regarding the military situation in Libya. “I would say that the no-fly zone is effectively in place,” said Mullen, outlining the ultimate goal as being threefold: successfully establishing the no-fly zone, arresting Gaddafi’s ability to massacre his own people, and making possible the entry of humanitarian assistance into Libya.  “While the United States leads this right now,” said Mullen, “we expect in the next few days to hand that leadership off to a coalition-led operation, and the United States recede somewhat to the background in support.”

Both Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), giving their assessment of the situation in Libya, said president Obama waited too long to act in Libya. “It’s late, but it’s not too late,”Lieberman said, “if we act quickly together.“

“I regret that. . . we didn’t act much more quickly,” said McCain, going on to say “that’s not the point now. The point now is, let's get behind this effort, do everything we can to support it.”

Conversation turned to Japan, with Energy Secretary Steven Chu providing an update regarding the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Asked whether the worst was over, Chu said, “We believe so, but I don’t want to make a blanket statement.”

On the subject of whether U.S. coastal nuclear plants would be able to withstand a 9.0-level earthquake, Chu could not be pinned down, saying that a number of factors must be considered, not just a Richter Scale measurement. “A 9 does not come from the type of faults around that reactor site,” said Chu,  “That’s the other thing you have to consider.  The very large earthquakes that Japan saw are what are known as subduction zone earthquakes, where one piece of ground goes under another.”



Nuclear Regulatory chief: ‘I can’t say I have views on nuclear power or the nuclear industry’

“I think we’re getting good information, “said Gregory Jaczko, chairman of the nuclear regulatory commission, regarding the situation at the beleaguered Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan.  “I think there are some differences here in the United States,” he said,adding that the United States would take both a short term and long-term look at U.S. nuclear facilities in light of the situation in Japan. “It’s important for us to do this in a methodical way,” Jaczko reiterated, saying that regulators would wait until the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi plant had more fully developed before making an assessment of domestic preparedness.

“We don’t have good estimates yet,” Jackzo said referring the long-term side-effects that workers at the Japanese plant may be subject to over the short and long term. “We always have more conflicting information than we would like,” said Jaczko, when asked what surprised him most about the Japan disaster. “I can’t say I have views on nuclear power or the nuclear industry,” he said, when asked how his time working for Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had shaped his views. “I have views on nuclear safety.”


Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.): ‘We had better get this straight from the beginning’

Admiral Mike Mullen “he has not flown anything for the last couple of days, we’ve taken out his aid defense systems…and some of his air fields,” said Mullen. “I don’t have all of the damage assessments at this point,” said Mullen, calling military offensive to this point “very, very effective.”

“It’s hard to know exactly how this turns out,” said Mullen, when asked what Gaddafi’s fate would ultimately be.  “He’s a thug, he’s a cagey guy, he’s a survivor,” said Mullen. Asked about the “end game” in Libya, Mullen limited kept his focus narrow, but did not commit to any specifics regarding how the overall situation would end. “From the military perspective, the mission is very clear and it’s limited in scope,” said Mullen, “I can’t say exactly how long the military part of this will be in effect.” According to Mullen, it would be “up to others,” to say when all involvement in Libya would end. “It will be very uncertain on how this ends,” said Mullen.

Indiana Republican Senator Richard Lugar continued to express doubts about the United States’ involvement in Libya. “We are not declaring war at this point,” said Lugar. “We really have not discovered who it is in Libya we are trying to support. We had better get this straight from the beginning,” Lugar said, or we are going to end up in a situation “where war lingers on.” Lugar confirmed that he was just as doubtful about the situation as he was before military action started.

Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) joined to discuss the situation in Japan and his doubts regarding nuclear energy development in the United States. “Obviously, there’s a tragedy, but at the same time it is calling in to question the viability of nuclear power in the United States,” Markey said. “We should ensure that we act cautiously given the Japanese meltdown,” he continued, citing the “technological equivalency” between both the Untied States and Japan.

Fox News Sunday

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.): ‘Isolate, strangle and replace’ Gaddafi

Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said a no-fly zone over Libya has been successfully implemented. “We’ve had a very significant impact very early in establishing this no-fly zone,” Mullen said. “We’ve seen (Libyan President Moammar Gaddafi) suppressed very dramatically.” Mullen declined to say whether Gaddafi would be forcibly removed from power. “To say exactly what the outcome is right now, I can’t do that,” he said. Mullen also said that U.S. forces are not being stretched too thin by the “limited” mission in Libya.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) had harsh criticism for President Obama’s actions regarding Libya. “I’m glad we’re finally doing something; I don’t know how many people have died as we wait to do something,” Graham said. “I don’t know what finally got the president to act, but I am very worried that we’re taking a back seat rather than a leadership role.” Graham said the goal should be to “isolate, strangle and replace” Gaddafi.

Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) defended Obama, saying the president’s actions have created a vast coalition committed to the mission in Libya. “That, I think, will send a strong signal to the Arab world that this is not about American interests,” Reed said. “It’s about democracy in Libya.” Speaking about the nuclear uncertainty after the earthquake in Japan, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said progress is being made. “Step by step, they’re making very good progress,” Chu said. Chu said the administration would review evacuation plans near existing U.S. nuclear power plants and suggested that the Indian Head plant, near New York City, might be shut down, as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has requested.


Gaddafi’s son: ‘You made a big mistake with supporting these people’

Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, said Obama, “a friend of the Arab world, is bombing Libya.” He accused the United States and other coalition forces of “supporting terrorists and armed militias.” He also suggested that the actions in Libya would come to resemble the fumbled quest for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. “Believe me, one day you will wake up and you made a big mistake with supporting these people.”

Mullen said the United States, which is currently leading the coalition efforts in Libya, will “in the next few days” take on a supporting role instead. He said the Libyan response to the coalition forces has not been significant. “He still has, from what I’ve seen this morning, has some surface-to-air capability,” Mullen said. “He clearly has the ability to continue attacking his own people.” Former Libyan Ambassador to the United States Ali Suleiman Aujali, who until recently was a Gaddafi ally, said the Libyan leader will fight until the end and will not cede power. “There is one thing in the mind of Gaddafi – that he will not step down at all,” Aujali said. “He has no other choice; he will never give up.” Aujali said that Gaddafi is using his ministers as a human shield, but that, if given the chance, they will defect.


Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.): ‘This operation was not specifically geared to get rid of Gaddafi’

Mullen said that the mission in Libya could be a success while also leaving Gaddafi in power. He said that initial operations on Saturday “went very well.” Mullen said the strikes took out Gaddafi’s radars and most of his ability to shoot at aircraft and that there is no indication that Gaddafi has been attacking his people on a grand scale. “We don’t see any indications of any kind of large-scale massacre at this time,” Mullen said. Mullen also said he personally has no qualms about the mission – “none, whatsoever.” There have been some reports that the Pentagon wasn’t on-board as much as Obama’s foreign policy advisors.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the operation in Libya doesn’t amount to a war. “There’s a lot of room here for a lot of different initiatives, but this operation was not specifically geared to get rid of Gaddafi,” Kerry said. Kerry said the United States is “not policing Libya.”

Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said there is no risk of “mission creep” – the scope of the mission’s goals being increased as operations progress – because the Obama Administration has been clear about the limited nature of the effort. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said it was possible that the operations are too little, too late. “Maybe this will be successful,” Sessions said. “I don’t see the certainty of it, for sure.”