White House To GOP Critics On Libya: We Were Right

October 20, 2011 3:25 p.m.

The White House is brushing aside criticism — from the GOP presidential field and others — that Obama doesn’t deserve credit for the death of ousted Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.

In a lengthy press briefing after President Obama heralded Qaddafi’s death and publicly congratulated the Libyan people for winning their revolution, White House spokesman Jay Carney was asked whether the President felt validated by Qaddafi’s killing and the conclusion of the Libyan civil war.

“Well, I think I’ve made clear that we believe that the President made the right decisions to work with our allies, to work with NATO, to work with the United Nations, not to do something on the cheap but because it was the right policy answer to the situation that presented itself, taking a long-term view about what outcome do you want in Libya,” Carney said.Obama readily acknowledged the volatile nature of the Libyan situation but believed it was important that “collectively, working with our allies and partners, that it was worth taking the action to save lives immediately and to help Libya be in the best possible position to determine its own future, to put it in the best possible position to make that future more democratic, more free and more prosperous,” Carney said.

“That was his view, and he wasn’t particularly interested in how that looked the first weekend or the second weekend; he was more concerned about how it would look well down the road, and how that would affect American national security interests and how it would affect Libya’s future,” he continued.

Asked directly how he would respond to the GOP critics, Carney wouldn’t engage.

“I think this is a day not to engage in politics but to commend the Libyan people on what they’ve accomplished, and to commend our armed forces and our civilian personnel for the role they played in making Libya,” he said.

A spokesman for Mitt Romney told Politico earlier Thursday that Obama did not deserve credit for the Libyan victory over Qaddafi or his killing.

“Mitt Romney has responded to the situation in Libya as it has developed,” he said in an email. “It is the president who has been completely unclear regarding what his intention was with respect to our military’s involvement in Libya.”

Rick Perry hailed Qaddafi’s death, but also pointedly left out any mention of the President’s decision to attack the dictator’s forces from his comments.

Another prominent Republican, Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) went out of his way to give France and Britain credit for Thursday’s news.

During the same Carney press briefing, the White House reiterated its commitment to helping Libya secure its conventional weapons stockpiles, including the disposal of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles.

“In the wrong hands, these systems … can pose a threat to civil aviation,” Carney told reporters Thursday afternoon. “We welcome the leadership of the TNC on this issue. The TNC has made a formal request for U.S. support and we are fully committed to expanding our assistance efforts.”

Since April, the U.S. has committed $3 million in aid to two organizations working on the ground with the Libyan Transitional National Coalition to clear unexploded ordnance and destroy unsecured conventional weapons, including shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles.

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