Graham Wants Military Action on Gadhafi Assets in Tripoli

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) “has a recommendation to NATO and the Obama administration when it comes to their involvement in Libya: bomb Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s inner circle and remove him from power,” CNN reports.

"Go to Tripoli, start bombing Gadhafi’s inner circle, their compounds, their military headquarters in Tripoli," Graham said Sunday on CNN’s "State of the Union." "I think the focus should now be to cut the head of the snake off. That’s the quickest way to end this."

Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was an early proponent of a no-fly zone in Libya and has consistently said troops should attack Gadhafi while arming anti-Gadhafi rebels.


Although the United Nations resolution that authorized force in the African country did not sanction removing Gadhafi from power, and instead called for coalition forces to protect the Libyan people, Graham said the only way to make the operation successful is to "put pressure on Tripoli."

"I would not let the U.N. mandate stop what is the right thing to do," Graham told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. "You cannot protect the Libyan people if Gadhafi stays. You cannot protect our vital national security interests if Gadhafi stays."

National Journal has Senator John McCain’s (R-AZ) reaction:

But when asked about Graham’s calls to bomb Tripoli, McCain hesitated. “We have tried those things in the past with other dictators and it’s a little harder than you think it is. Qaddafi is a great survivor, we don’t know exactly where he is, we do have to worry about civilian causalities that could turn the Libyan people against us,” he said. “I certainly think we ought to make Qaddafi aware that his very life is in danger, but I think we just have to be a little careful how we do that.”

While he praised Graham, McCain made it clear he had different ideas about how to approach the situation in Libya. “We can’t count on taking Qaddafi out. What we can count on is a trained, equipped, well-supported liberation forces which can either force Qaddafi out or obtain victory and send him to an international court,” he said. “My emphasis is on winning the battle on the ground, not taking the chance on taking him out with a lucky airstrike.”

And Senator Joe Lieberman (ID-CT):

But when asked about Graham’s idea to bomb Tripoli, Lieberman waffled. “As John McCain said earlier, it’s not easy to do that,” he said. But just minutes later, Lieberman reversed himself. “NATO has got to start thinking about whether they want to more directly start targeting Qaddafi and his family,” he said.

McCain is Ranking Member on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Lieberman is a senior member of the committee.

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