Minnesota’s elected officials weigh in on Libya


Rep. Betty McCollum and Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar have given measured support for the United States’ military operations in Libya as a part of an international coalition of force in the region. McCollum wants congressional oversight before more operations commence while Franken is concerned about the costs. The rest of the delegation, some of whom were critical of perceived inaction by President Obama, have largely remained silent on Libya.

“The brave men and women of America’s armed forces are fulfilling critical missions around the world. Now, they are participating in a broad international coalition to protect the Libyan people from a murderous tyrant,” McCollum said in a statement on Tuesday. “While I support the current, limited U.S. mission in Libya, I have serious concerns about deepening U.S. military involvement. President Obama must consult with Congress before further expanding America’s commitment in Libya.”

Franken said that the Muammar Qaddafi’s actions against his own people warranted action. “The Libyan government’s violence against its own people is completely unacceptable,” Franken said in a statement on Tuesday. “Innocent civilians in Libya must be protected from massacre by Qaddafi and that is why I support the action the president has taken so far.”

But he added, “While I personally believe that Qaddafi should go, people need to understand that the purpose of the force we’re using is specifically to protect civilians, not to coerce a regime change. The president also needs to clarify how much this operation is going to cost American taxpayers, and how it’s going to be paid for.”

Rep. Michele Bachmann, who has been critical of President Obama prior to the start of military operations in Libya, hasn’t said much since.

“There’s no question that [Qaddafi] is not a great guy, that the people of Libya would be better off without him,” she told Fox Business Network last Thursday.

“However, on that score I’m reluctant to go in, and I’ll tell you why: We don’t know who the opposition is. We have no idea, and no intelligence community will tell you that we know who the opposition is,” she said. “For us to go in with American soldiers on the ground, right now, would be a mistake. We should not go that route. The same with arming – I think that would be a mistake right now.”

Rep. Keith Ellison has been urging aid for protesters in Libya for weeks on his Twitter feed. Three days before operations began in Libya, he tweeted, “Time to act is now! Libyans dying, being killed, Qadaffi is consolidating & moving forward. World can’t allow another Rwanda, Srebrenica”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar told WCCO on Sunday that she supports military action in Libya.

“Well, you have here a madman who’s basically been starving his country and bombing his own people,” she said. “And so that is why we stood with the rest of the world,” she said stressing the need for an international coalition. “This time we just simply, one, can’t afford it; two, need to work with the rest of the world so that they are participating,”