Of course, that's the mission of the U.S. special forces. Their motto, (SET ITAL) De oppresso liber (END ITAL) ("To free the oppressed"), is particularly appropriate for the situation in Libya -- but not for the O-Team. When asked, White House press secretary Jay Carney refused to comment "on intelligence matters" but maintained our policy remains unchanged: "Gadhafi must go." Obama says that "we are examining all options to support the opposition" while insisting that "no American troops will be deployed on the ground in Libya." And he proudly proclaims, "We have handed off operations in Libya to NATO."
The incoherence in all this -- including the recently leaked presidential finding -- is simply stunning and reflects what's happening on the ground. The no-fly zone now being "maintained by our coalition partners" is in fact being run by U.S. officers wearing NATO hats. The intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, search and rescue, and command and control aircraft being employed over Libya are being flown by American pilots and aircrews.
The O-Team -- uncertain and somnolent from the start about what to do about the protests that began last December in Tunisia -- once again is caught in the web of ambivalence. This perpetual state of "What do we do now?" is potentially catastrophic for the people of Libya.
This week, first at National Defense University and then at Georgetown University, Obama claimed to be at once a leader and a follower. He told his audiences that "we stopped Gadhafi's deadly advance" but that NATO is now "protecting Libyan civilians." He said, "We've led an international effort in Libya to prevent a massacre and maintain stability throughout the broader region." And now we know -- undoubtedly thanks to a "leaker" in the Obama administration -- that the president has "boldly" ordered our intelligence services into the fray.
"Prevent a massacre"? Try telling that to the tens of thousands of Libyans in Bin Jawwad, Ras Lanouf and Brega who were turned over to Gadhafi's tender mercies this week when rebel forces retreated yet again toward Benghazi.
"Maintain stability in the broader region"? Perhaps an administration spokesman can explain what that means to those who belong to disparate protest movements in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and even Iran.
Meanwhile, we still don't know who the "rebels" we "covertly" are helping really are. Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, put it best: "It's safe to say what the rebels stand against, but we are a long way from an understanding of what they stand for." Now that Obama has committed us to war, finding out who our allies are may prove as difficult as discerning what this administration stands for.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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