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Mullen: Qaddafi Could Still Stay in Power Mullen: Qaddafi Could Still Stay in Power

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Mullen: Qaddafi Could Still Stay in Power

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Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.(JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

As Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, and other top officials make the rounds on the Sunday talk shows on the crises in Libya and Japan, follow National Journal's live blog to stay up to date.

2:31 p.m. Video from Tripoli is showing heavy anti-aircraft fire from pro-Qaddafi forces.

 

11:04 a.m. Asked by NBC's David Gregory what Japan's nuclear crisis means for America's nuclear program, Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and John Kerry, D-Mass., both said nuclear power should stay in America's mix because of climate change. Levin: "There ought to be a period here where all of our nuclear plants are tested... to make sure they are safe and this could never happen here." But "it seems to me that the energy hope we have ultimately in terms of greenhouse gases is to move away from fossil fuels, and though we have to be very careful with nuclear power... we cannot give up on that possibility." Kerry: "I think it's taken some hit, obviously, but I think it's going to cause everybody to look for the fail-safe methodology and look for what the next generation of nuclear power might be." Sessions faults Obama's overall approach on energy, saying, "We need more clean American energy. We have not seen that leadership. We have Gulf [of Mexico] oil production blocked, essentially," by a lack of new permits.

10:59 a.m. NBC's David Gregory asks Senate Armed Services Committee member Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., if Obama should have sought congressional authorization for the strike in Libya. "I'm not sure he needed to have done that, but I think we could have been better briefed on that," Sessions said.

10:55 a.m. Is it too late for the no-fly zone? Gregory asks Sessions. "I think that's a very real concern. We could end up with the rebels having lost momentum and creating a prolonged stalement in which the people of Libya are subjected to violence for months.... I can't quite see where we're heading, where the endgame is.... We just hope for the best."

 

10:54 a.m. NBC's Gregory asks Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., if there's a disconnect between President Obama's statement that Qaddafi needs to go and Mullen's remarks Sunday morning that he doesn't necessarily have to. Kerry: "The goal of this mission is not to get rid of Qaddafi, and that's not what he U.N. licensed, and we're not going to war.... He has not been targeted, and that is not what is happening here." Levin: "He has a military operation with a very clear mission, and that's what a president should do, have a very clear mission and avoid mission creep."

10:52 a.m. Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., said that the nuclear industry, in light of the Japan crisis, was “going to meet its maker in the marketplace,” at the hands of investors.

10:49 a.m. Markey said of the Japanese nuclear crisis, "It is calling into question the viability of nuclear power in the United States."

10:43 a.m. What if this offensive doesn't work? Gregory asks Mullen. "The no-fly zone will allow us to both attack and monitor his forces, and at least initially, it looks like it's had a positive impact in terms of limiting civilian casualties." The immediate goal is keeping pressure on Qaddafi and isolating him, Mullen said. He repeated his point that the U.S.'s objective is "limited," not about seeing Qaddafi go but about supporting the U.N. resolution.

 

10:41 a.m. Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., pressed for congressional authorization and a firmly delineated plan about the operation. Appearing on CBS's "Face the Nation," Lugar said, "We really have not discovered who it is in Libya [whom] we are trying to support." He noted many Libyans had aided Iraqi forces against the United States.

10:41 a.m. NBC's David Gregory asks if Mullen is worried about threats of mustard gas and terrorism against the West. "We've focused very heavily on chemical capabilities that he has, and we don't see any evidence that he's moving on that."

10:39 a.m. NBC's Gregory asks Mullen about civilian casualties. "All of these targets were looked at in terms of minimizing collateral damage. The reports I've seen have indicated minimum collateral damage. I haven't seen any reports of civilian casualties. I think, true to form, what Qaddafi has done is put in place human shields in some cases as well as created or said that we have general civilian casualties. I just haven't seen that."

10:40 a.m. Mullen was careful to note that Libyan people had asked for intervention. "This wasn't something the United States ginned up," Mullen said on CBS.

10:38 a.m. Mullen told host David Gregory on NBC's Meet the Press that the U.S.'s involvement in Libya is "focused on supporting the U.N. Security Council resolution." Gregory asked Mullen twice if the U.S. is at "war," a word Mullen avoids.

10:38 a.m. Calling Qaddafi's fate "hard to know," Mullen told CBS other countries "have committed" to support the operation but that he preferred to allow them to announce their intentions. Mullen said Qaddafi has "a significant quantity" of mustard gas, whose location coalition authorities believe they know. "There is no indication that he is moving towards using that," he said.

10:35 a.m. Mullen told Bob Schieffer on CBS's "Face the Nation" that the mission thus far had gone as planned: coalition forces have taken out some of the ground forces near Benghazi and that Qaddafi "has not flown anything" for a couple of days. "So far, very very effective."

He restated that Americans control the operation "right now," but expects to hand off to coalition command and "recede to a position of support."

10:23 a.m. Former Libyan ambassador to the U.S. Ali Suleiman Aujali said Qaddafi was unlikely to cede control. "This is his attitude. He will never give up," he said on ABC.

10:18 a.m. Mullen said the U.S. was likely to be more restrained in Bahrain, where protestors have also asked for international intervention. "Bahrain is in a much different situation [than] Libya," calling Bahrain a longtime ally. "I just think the approach there needs to be different."

10:16 a.m. "The mission is very clear right now, it's to focus on getting this no-fly zone in place" and protect civilians, Mullen said on ABC.

10:14 a.m. "The French were the first ones in," Mullen told ABC's Christiane Amanpour, part of an administration effort to depict the U.S. as leaders of the coalition but not the lead aggressors.

10:11 a.m. CNN's Candy Crowley asked retired Gen. Wesley Clark, former NATO supreme allied commander, if NATO would get involved in the allied offensive on Libya. "It really depends on the internal politics," Clark said, but in any event, "it's more important that we get Arab participation.... The more regional pressure that can be put on Qaddafi, the more legitimate the operation will gain." Some nations that aren't involved militarily might lean on Qaddafi diplomatically, Clark said.

 Is it necessary that the U.S. lead the mission? Crowley asked Clark. "Not necessarily," he said. "We have the can opener. What we did with the Tomahawk missiles and the takedown of the defense system is a standard, playbook play that our military forces have run time and again.... We know how to do this. Nobody else has the technology. That done, the real work comes in balancing the no-fly zone... with diplomacy. There's no reason the United States has to lead that, and in fact it's better if we don't." The key for the U.S. is to avoid a ground war, he said.

10:07 a.m. Saif al-Islam al-Qaddafi, son of Libyan ruler Muammar el-Qaddafi, said Americans would eventually realize they had made a "mistake" and supported the wrong side in Libya.

10:05 a.m. Saif al-Islam al-Qaddafi, son of Libyan ruler Muammar el-Qaddafi, defended his father's refusal to hold his post. "Step aside, why?" he said. Of the Americans, he said, "You are supporting the terrorists and armed militia. That's it."

9:58 a.m. Saif al-Islam al-Qaddafi, son of Libyan ruler Muammar el-Qaddafi, tells ABC's Christiane Amanpour in a taped interview that the allied attacks on Libya were a "surprise," and that "our people went to Benghazi to liberate Benghazi from the gangsters and the armed militia." The Libyan ruler's son sought to change the narrative of the attack: "It was big surprise that finally President Obama, we thought he was a good man and friend of Arab world, is bombing Libya." Read more on ABC's website.

9:48 a.m. "There's no evidence I've ever heard that the Japanese were holding back," Chu said. Information was hard to come by, even for Japanese officials, he said. Then what accounts for the difference in assessments? CNN's Crowley asked. "What we do is we have our own set of standards and safety and we thought we'd err on the side of caution," Chu said. The wide gaps in the Japanese and U.S. evacuation zones reflected "an abundance of caution."

9:45 a.m. Is the worst over? CNN's Crowley asked Chu about the Japanese crisis. "We believe so, but we don't want to make a blanket statement."

9:45 a.m. Chu called the recent rise in gasoline prices "a reminder" that the long-term trend in fuel costs is upward. "We see this in the buying habits of Americans, as they make the choice for the next car they buy," Chu said on FOX NEWS.

9:39 a.m. Asked in the context of the Indian Point nuclear facility, within 50 miles of New York City, whether the Japanese crisis would alter domestic policy on siting future nuclear facilities, Chu told FOX NEWS, "Certainly, where you site reactors and where we site reactors going forward will be different."

9:37 a.m. Chu said on FOX NEWS that there would be "a thorough review going forward" on all of the nuclear reactors in the United States. He said a three-decade moratorium on new nuclear reactors had not dragged American nuclear safety down, pointing to safety upgrades in the interim.

9:33 a.m. Chu said he had "no indication" that TEPCO, the power corporation that owns the afflicted nuclear facilities, had inappropriately delayed taking steps to stem the nuclear crisis out of concern for their property.

9:31 a.m. Chu on Japanese nuclear crisis, to FOX NEWS: "With each passing hour, each passing day, things look more under control."

9:22 a.m. Did Obama wait too long? CNN's Candy Crowley asked Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., "He waited too long, there is no doubt in my mind about it.... But we need now to support him and the efforts our military are going to take.... Let's get behind this effort and do everything we can to support it."

9:20 a.m. If Qaddafi succeeds, McCain says, the message to Arab dictators facing rebellions becomes, "go ahead and clamp down and kill as many as you need.... That would be a terrible message to send to people aspiring to freedom and democracy." Sen. Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., says, "Once the president of the U.S. says, as President Obama did, that Qaddafi has to go, if we don't work with our allies to make Qaddafi go, our credibility and prestige with our allies suffers all around the world."

9:18 a.m. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a member of the Armed Services Committee, pushed President Barack Obama to broaden the mission and push for  Libyan dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi's ouster, saying he was "very worried" the U.S. was "taking a backseat." Appearing on FOX NEWS, Graham said, "We used to relish leading the free world. Now it's almost like leading the free world is an inconvenience." Graham said the incursion was "a great opportunity to replace a tyrannical dictator," chiding Obama for not aiming at regime change. "Isolate, strangle and replace this man. That should be our goal." Graham said the U.S. had waited too long, and referred to reports that the foreign policy wing of the Obama administration, led by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, had triumphed over Pentagion admonitions against going into Libya. "I'm glad we're finally doing something ... Thank God for strong women in the Obama administration," Graham said.

9:16 a.m. Is it too late for a no-fly zone? Crowley asks McCain in a taped interview. "I hope it's not too late and I believe it's not too late." Lieberman said, "Qaddafi had such an advantage in terms of logistics and command and control weapons." However, "it's late but it's not too late if we act quickly."

9:12 a.m. Mullen appeared to duck a question about whether Obama's foreign policy advisers had won out over Pentagon caution against a Libyan incursion, saying on FOX NEWS Sunday, "That debate has occurred, the decision has been made, and we're all about, now, carrying out the president's direction."

9:12 a.m. CNN host Candy Crowley asked Mullen if the mission is to get rid of Qaddafi. "This is a very specifically focused limited military mission" to enforce no-fly and protect civilians in Libya, Mullen said. Qaddafi is "isolated," the Joint Chiefs chairman added. He said, "I wouldn't speculate how exactly this would come out and who would be where when. The overall objective here is, in the near term on the military side, is to do as I described."

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