James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, found himself in hot water over the weekend for essentially speaking the truth about Libya as he sees it.
Speaking on Capital Hill, Clapper broke ranks with the Obama administration's feeble condemnation of Muammar Gaddafi's regime saying, "I just think from a standpoint of attrition, that over time, I mean — this is kind of a stalemate back and forth, but I think over the longer term that the (Gaddafi) regime will prevail."
Rather than being congratulated or at least listened to for his honest assessment, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) instead urged Clapper to resign. "Unfortunately, this isn't the first questionable comment from the DNI director, however it should be the final straw," Graham said.
America is at a crossroads with Libya and needs to step forth and show courage. Obama's careful hedging and cautious statements supporting the opposition may have been appropriate for Egypt, but with hundreds, if not thousands, already dead in Libya and the country on the verge of civil war, insipid non-action is subliminal consent for Gaddafi to continue to wage war on his own people.
Mr. Clapper's sinister portrayal of Gaddafi's forces as being both stronger than previously thought and ready to push eastward was further confirmed over the weekend by a public relations official from India's embassy to Egypt. The official, who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity given India's sensitive diplomatic ties with Libya, said that a large group of Indian families (5 or so who were staying at a downtown Cairo hotel) had been evacuated by the Indian government from the eastern port city of Al Beyda as part of a larger Libya-wide evacuation plan, because of fears of growing unrest.
The remarks by the official who declined to specify further were echoed and expounded upon by Nabeel, an Indian doctor (who only offered his first name) living in Al Beyda who was part of the group that fled. According to the doctor, the fact that the Indian government had issued a mandatory evacuation was a sign that India was worried that the Libyan government's offensive might succeed. Nabeel suggested that the Indian government must be fearful that forces loyal to Gaddafi will recapture the eastern half of the country. He discussed how it is atypical for India to offer a free evacuation to people like his family who are capable of paying their own way. This, he figured, was an incentive that showed India's strong desire and concern about getting everyone out.
He continued, "We did not leave because of personal safety but because India issued a mandatory evacuation order. Right now our town [Al Beyda] is in full control of rebel hands. Maybe this doesn't last. Maybe the government [India] thinks pro-Gaddafi forces will come back and win in the East." He went on to add, "Fighting only lasted a few days the first time. It will be much longer if Gaddafi's people return."
If Senator Graham wants to scold Mr. Clapper for political gain and Obama is intent to distance himself for the same reason, then Libyans can only hope that they will instead heed the calls of people like Nabeel, who experienced the uprising and witnessed gruesome fighting.
America and the Obama administration can no longer sit back. Does that mean a full-on invasion of Libya? Of course not. But why not follow the lead of the 'President of the World' Bill Clinton who called for a no-fly zone or ratchet up the pressure on Gaddafi by joining France in recognizing the Libyan rebel leadership under the auspices of the National Libyan Council. Otherwise, those less fortunate who are unable to leave like Mr. Nabeel, will not be able to tell their stories of escaping the violence.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons