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Posted at 11:54 AM ET, 02/22/2011

Unrest in Libya: Congressional reactions

By Felicia Sonmez

Updated: 3:50 p.m.

The Senate and the House are both on recess this week, but lawmakers have been reacting to the developments in Libya, where top officials have resigned in the wake of government violence against protesters.

Below are some of the reactions from members of Congress; we'll update this roundup throughout the day.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.): "The Qadhafi government's use of deadly force against its own people should mean the end of the regime itself. It's beyond despicable, and I hope we are witnessing its last hours in power. Libyans should have the opportunity to choose leaders who respect their basic rights. The question now is what can be done to send that message clearly and effectively. While it's true that America has less influence in Tripoli than elsewhere in the region, we're not without options, particularly in partnership with the broader international community. World leaders must together put Colonel Qadhafi on notice that his cowardly actions will have consequences. First, while Qadhafi himself is irredeemable, his senior military commanders need to know that their acquiescence in atrocities could open them to future international war crimes charges. Second, all American and international oil companies should immediately cease operations in Libya until violence against civilians ceases. The Obama administration also should consider reimposing U.S. sanctions that were lifted during the Bush era. Third, United Nations leadership is on the line. Libya's mission to the U.N. bravely condemned their own government. ... Fourth, the Arab League and African Union have an opportunity to create a new precedent in response to the crisis in Libya."

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.): "The Libyan regime's widespread attacks on the Libyan people are deplorable, and all responsible for these attacks must be held to account. Neither the protests sweeping Libya nor the regime's brutal crackdown should come as a surprise. This is a regime which has ruled the country with an iron fist for more than 42 years, and was for years designated as a state-sponsor of terrorism. The regime has no regard for the Libyan people or any people. It has the blood of Libyans, Americans, and other innocent people around the world on its hands. The United States and all responsible nations should show in both word and deed that we condemn the Libyan regime's actions and that we will not tolerate such blatant disregard for human life and basic freedoms. As a first step, the United States and other free democratic nations should impose economic sanctions, including freezing assets of the regime and imposing a ban on travel for all senior regime officials and their families. The UN must also finally end the disgrace of Libya's inclusion as a member of the Human Rights Council, and send a clear signal that Qadhafi and his cadre will be held accountable for their serial human rights violations."

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), in a joint statement: "We are appalled by what appear to be crimes against humanity occurring in Libya. The Qaddafi regime's ongoing slaughter and oppression is deplorable and must end. We commend the courage of the Libyan people who are risking their lives for their freedom and dignity. And we applaud those Libyan officials who have broken with the Qaddafi regime and now stand in solidarity with the Libyan people. We call on others to join them. Those who embrace the cause of justice now should be spared the consequences of justice later. All governments have an obligation to respect the universal rights of their citizens, and when any government abuses those sacred rights as flagrantly as the Qaddafi regime is now doing, it forfeits its right to power. The horrific situation in Libya demands more than just public condemnation; it requires strong international action. The community of responsible nations must now take concrete steps to support the Libyan people as they seek their liberation from a brutal dictatorship. There is an array of measures that the United States and our global partners, including the European Union and African Union, should immediately pursue. Some Libyan diplomats have bravely called for a no-fly zone to stop the Qaddafi regime's use of airpower to attack Libyan civilians. We support this course of action. Other steps that should be considered include targeted sanctions and asset freezes against Libyan officials, an arms embargo, and the immediate suspension of Libya from international organizations. In recent weeks we have witnessed revolutions that have opened the door to freedom and democracy in Tunisia and Egypt. We hope and believe the Libyan people will have the same opportunity."

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), in a joint statement: "Reports indicate that Qaddafi is now engaged in a brutal attempt to maintain his 40 year dictatorship. The United States should not remain silent in the face of Qaddafi's egregious violations of human rights. We urge the President to speak out clearly in support of the Libyan people in their struggle against the Qaddafi dictatorship."

New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez: "While the Qaddafi regime guns down its own citizens for the supposed crime of protesting against its tyrannical rule, Libya continues to sit on the U.N. Human Rights Council. I call on the U.N. Security Council to immediately condemn these acts and for the General Assembly to expel Libya from the U.N. Human Rights Council for these despicable acts. I condemn the brutal crimes against humanity taking place in Libya. Muammar Qaddafi has again shown himself to be nothing more than despot. He stands for nothing and for no one other than himself. All officials in the Libyan government should stand up for the Libyan people, grant their pleas for liberty and respect their human and civil rights, and the United States must stand by the Libyan people as they seek the rights and liberties deserved by all peoples."

House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-Wash.): "I am deeply concerned about recent reports out of Libya and condemn in the strongest terms possible the use of force against the Libyan people. Like all people, Libyans have the right to express concerns with their government without consequence. Instead of reacting with brutal and oppressive violence, the government should respond with adjustments and reforms to better meet the needs of the people.

By Felicia Sonmez  | February 22, 2011; 11:54 AM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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The righteous indignation begins from the body that backed our Middle East policy for 60 years. How about some jobs?

Posted by: jckdoors | February 22, 2011 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Is Beyonce available for another pro-Kaddafi gig?

Or maybe Kaddafi can book Lionel Richie again to calm the locals?

*We are the world*

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | February 22, 2011 12:48 PM | Report abuse

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