Obama organizes call with Hill leaders on Libya

AP News
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Posted: Mar 25, 2011 2:28 PM
Obama organizes call with Hill leaders on Libya

President Barack Obama spoke with Democratic and Republican congressional leaders about Libya on Friday afternoon amid criticism that he's failed to adequately consult with Capitol Hill on the goals of the U.S. military action there.

Obama also intends to update the country in the "very near future," press secretary Jay Carney told reporters. Obama was traveling in Latin America last weekend when he authorized the U.S.-led attacks on Moammar Gadhafi's defenses. Obama has not spoken out on the fighting since returning on Wednesday.

The conference call with congressional leaders, which was getting underway at 2 p.m., comes a day after NATO announced it was assuming control of the no-fly zone over Libya. It appeared that the United States, along with France and Great Britain, would maintain primary responsibility for attacks on Gadhafi's ground forces and air defense systems, which are the toughest and most controversial parts of the operation.

Carney said that agreement had been reached on a political level for NATO to assume control of the entire mission but that the military plans associated with it were still being worked out.

Obama, already prosecuting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been eager to limit U.S. involvement in Libya and quickly hand off control, but disagreements among NATO countries have complicated that.

Obama had said that the United States' lead role in subduing Gadhafi's forces would last a matter of days, not weeks, and then the handoff of control would occur. Carney said Friday the president was delivering on that.

"He said what he would do, and he's doing what he said," said Carney.

"What we will not be is in the lead, either in the no-fly zone or the civilian protection."

The White House contends that it has consulted plenty with Congress but some lawmakers disagree, particularly Republicans.

Lawmakers have complained that in some instances the White House has informed them of developments in Libya without seeking their input. Carney said Friday's call would be a conversation among Obama and lawmakers.