Bay Area lawmakers chime in on Libya

March 22, 2011 8:08:31 PM PDT
Two crewmembers of an U.S. Air Force jet parachuted to safety Tuesday, just seconds before impact, and both airmen are now back with U.S. forces. The Pentagon blames mechanical problems for the crash over the rebel-held territory in Eastern Libya.

That first downed American F-15 fighter jet in Libya is fueling opposition to the president's military intervention in the country. The president is being hit from both the left and the right and his intervention in Libya is not playing well among Bay Area members of Congress. Those who've weighed-in against him far outnumber his supporters and politically, that situation may be as good as it gets for the president.

The recent plane crash is bringing home the cost of America's involvement in another foreign conflict. The president again defended his decision.

"I absolutely believe the costs are outweighed by the benefits," said President Barack Obama.

Regardless, in Congress he's taking flack and more from the left than from the right.

"The president exceeded his authority and it's very clear," said Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio.

ABC7 asked House Republican Leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, if he thought it was a bad move to get involved. He responded, "I'm still waiting to hear from the administration as to exactly how they see this playing out."

Last week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., commended the president for his leadership and prudence.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said, "The administration is focused on staying out of an open-ended commitment in Libya, and I agree with that approach."

And Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said, "The international community has an obligation to prevent the slaughter of Libyan civilians..."

However, among Bay Area lawmakers that's as positive as it gets.

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, says America needs concrete goals and an exit strategy.

Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, Rep. Mike Honda, D-Campbell, and Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Santa Rosa, are all opposed to the Libyan intervention.

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, issued a statement saying, "...engagement with Libya has the potential to become a quagmire..."

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, says the president should've engaged more with Congress -- a widely held opinion according to ABC7's political analyst Prof. Bruce Cain, Ph.D.

"What units both parties above all is the whole question of Congressional prerogative," said Cain.

Cain points out the president's decision to lead a coalition attack, without Congressional approval has a very short shelf life.

"Both the Democrats and Republicans are very uneasy about what this mission is all about and most important what role Congress has played in defining this mission," said Cain.

The worst case scenario is a rebellion that bogs down in Libya says, a former deputy assistant secretary of state under President George W. Bush, Col. Stephen T. Ganyard.

"That would be a very, very embarrassing sticky situation. It's one reason I think that the administration is looking very hard to quickly hand off responsibility so they don't get stuck with a tar baby," said Ganyard.

The president said on Tuesday that within days the U.S. will hand off the lead, but if France takes the lead and pushes for a regime change, could the U.S. bail? Leading or being led? the quagmire potential is significant.


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