President Obama’s claims that the United States is not engaged in hostilities against Libya are centered around the premise that they are purely providing “support” for the British and French attacks, and that as such they are not a direct combatant.
This claim is entirely untrue, however, as a spokeswoman for US African Command (AFRICOM) confirmed today. Rather, the US has flown 801 attack sorties, and actually dropped bombs on Libya in 132 cases after the president claimed the support role began.
Of course it was widely known that the US was still launching some strikes against Libya, particularly as war enthusiasts railed at an authorization bill that failed to provide a special exemption to allow “defensive” strikes. But the revelation shows those strikes went beyond defense for their support mission and into proactive sorties of their own.
The US launched attacks on Libya on March 19, but claimed as of March 31 to have transitioned into a “support” role for it as a NATO war, providing surveillance and refueling for the conflict. It was this claim, more than anything else, which has been the basis for the president to claim he didn’t need a Congressional authorization to continue the war. What happens now that this claim is revealed as faulty is anyone’s guess, but with a July defunding looming in the House, the president will need new excuses.
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