McCain, Lieberman Support Creating a No-Fly Zone Over Libya

U.S. Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman said they support creating a no-fly zone over Libya and that more should be done to oust Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.

“Now is the time for action, not just for statements,” Lieberman said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. Both McCain, the senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Lieberman, an independent panel member, said they support sending arms and humanitarian aid to the anti-Qaddafi government and recognizing that government.

The senators said U.S. troops aren’t needed to intervene now.

“I’m not ready to use ground forces,” said McCain on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He and Lieberman are traveling in the Middle East meeting with government leaders as the region experiences widespread civil unrest that has led to the ouster of leaders in Egypt and Tunisia.

The UN Security Council late yesterday voted 15-0 to freeze the foreign assets of Qaddafi and four aides and bar them from traveling. On Feb. 25, Obama announced what his administration said was the first of a series of sanctions against the Libyan government, signing an order to freeze the U.S. assets of Qaddafi, his family and members of his regime.

How Many Dead

Qaddafi will be overthrown, McCain, an Arizona lawmaker, said on “State of the Union.” “The question is how many people are going to be massacred between now and the time he leaves,” he said.

The U.S. policy should be to “shorten” that time period, McCain said.

Obama should tell mercenaries and others fighting on Qaddafi’s behalf that they will be held accountable for their actions by a war crimes tribunal, McCain said on “Meet the Press.”

After a meeting with Egypt’s military leaders, who are running the country following the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak, Lieberman said he believes they want to hand control to a democratically elected government as soon as possible.

“The military can’t really wait until it can go back to being just the military,” Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, said on “State of the Union.”

Egypt’s Economy

The U.S. should do more to strengthen the economy of Egypt if democracy is to take hold there, McCain said.

“We need investment, we need the kind of entrepreneurship and other kinds of assistance that I think will get their economy moving again,” McCain told “Meet the Press.” “Otherwise they’re going to have far more severe difficulties.”

The U.S. also should help spread the push for democracy in the Middle East to the rest of the world, including China and Iran, he said.

“I’m not sure these winds of changes are going to remain confined to just blowing in the Arab world,” McCain said on “Meet the Press.”

Both senators said that they didn’t know the veracity of allegations that the U.S. military-led coalition misused psychological operations to win the backing of lawmakers visiting Afghanistan.

“I don’t see how it could have affected my positions in any way,” McCain said on NBC. “Put me down as skeptical.”

Lieberman said on CNN that he didn’t believe he had been “brainwashed.”

Army General David Petraeus, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, has ordered an investigation of the allegations, which were disclosed in an article published on Feb. 24 on Rolling Stone magazine’s website.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeff Bliss in Washington at jbliss@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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