Wed March 30, 2011
Conflict In Libya

Secretary Clinton To Brief Congress On Libya Mission

Fresh from an international conference on Libya, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be on Capitol Hill Wednesday, facing a closed-door grilling on U.S. policy in Libya.

She's likely to face some of the same questions that she and her coalition partners grappled with in London Tuesday — such as what's the end-game with Moammar Gadhafi.

The United States and its partners feel they accomplished a lot in a short period of time — destroying Libyan air defenses and preventing a potential massacre by pushing back Gadhafi's forces just as they were bearing down on the rebel stronghold in Benghazi.

But Clinton says there is so much in play now, she had a hard time answering a reporter's question about how this might end, and if there's a deal that could be worked out that would see Gadhafi in exile.

"This has happened so quickly that we are now facing questions like the ones you asked, but I'm not sure when we will get to any change in attitude by Gadhafi and those around him," Clinton said.

Clinton heard from Arab and European officials about the various signals coming out of Tripoli. The United Nations and others are exploring potential political solutions.

There's a lot of reaching out that is occurring and a lot of conversations that are going on. And as the Arab League has said, it is also obvious to everyone that Gadhafi has lost the legitimacy to lead," Clinton added.

There are also plenty of questions about the rebels, who they are and what they might be able to do.

Clinton met with several members of the Interim Transitional National Council in London. The council's spokesman Mahmoud Shammam says the hope is that if the opposition gains steam, people will rise up in Tripoli.

Shammam says he's looking mainly for political support abroad, though he says the opposition also needs financial help and could use better weapons.

"We don't have arms at all, otherwise we would finish Gadhafi in a few days," Shammam said. "We don't have arms. We ask for political help more than we ask them for arms. But if we get both that would be great."

As for what a post-Gadhafi Libya might look like, the council issued what it called its vision for a democratic Libya and Clinton suggested the statement said the right things.

"Their commitment to democracy and to a very a robust engagement with people from across the spectrum of Libyans is appropriate," She added.

Clinton says the U.S. has made no decisions about arming the opposition, though she thinks the latest U.N. resolution would allow countries to do that.

She also acknowledges that the U.S. doesn't know as much as it would like about the transitional council, which Clinton describes a work in progress. She does have an envoy who is expected to go to Benghazi soon. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.