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Lawmakers Angry With Obama Over Libyan Strike, Warn Administration Lacks 'End-Game'

 

Liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans are furious at President Obama for approving missile strikes on Libya, agreeing for a rare moment that the president should have sought congressional approval and warning that the administration has no "end-game" for its intervention. 

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, an anti-war congressman among those hammering the president, said Monday that the killings by Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi did not merit U.S. military action and accused Obama of skirting the Constitution by going around Congress. 

"This is a nightmare," he told Fox News. 

Kucinich said Libya presented "no actual or imminent threat to the United States." 

Though administration officials have described the U.S. role in Libya as limited, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed concerns about where the missile strikes could lead next.

British submarines fired two missiles on Qaddafi's Tripoli compound Sunday. While the British Ministry of Defense said the compound was targeted because of its military significance, the action signaled western forces were looking beyond Qaddafi's primary defense systems as possible targets. 

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., warned that a failure to define the political objectives "risks entrenching the United States in a humanitarian mission whose scope and duration are not known at this point and cannot be controlled by us." 

Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., called the decision to strike without congressional consent "troubling and unacceptable."

"The president should immediately return home and call Congress back into session so that this action can be fully debated," she said in a statement. Obama is currently in Latin America on a diplomatic tour. 

"We have seen uprisings across the Middle East over the last few months and in many instances atrocities have been perpetrated," Miller said. "One now must ask where this administration draws the line." 

Though Obama has called for Qaddafi to leave office, the administration insists the current use of force -- which followed the U.N. Security Council approval of a no-fly zone -- is only to stop Qaddafi from killing his own people. 

U.S. Army Gen. Carter Ham said Monday that the military is not worried about "mission creep" because the mission is clear. 

He added that the coalition is achieving its objectives and stressed that its mission is to protect civilians, not support rebel forces. He conceded that Qaddafi could ultimately remain in power, though he said that would not be ideal. 

Kucinich, though, said the call to protect civilians is not justification for U.S. military action. 

"There's no end game," he said. "There's blood being shed all over the world and we can't control it. We cannot be the policemen of the world." 

Kucinich reiterated that Obama needs congressional authority but said, "It's after the fact now."
Kucinich was among the congressman on a conference call Saturday in which Democratic lawmakers voiced severe concerns about the Libyan missile strikes. 

Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., were among those who wanted Obama to seek congressional approval before using military force. 

"The Constitution, rightly, does not allow a single person to commit the nation to war, even where there is a good reason to do so," Nadler said in a written statement. 

One Democratic aide told FoxNews.com that Congress faces a challenge if it tries to weigh in "retroactively." 

"You can go after the purse strings, try to cut off funding, but it's a little complicated," the aide said, adding that lawmakers are "conferring" on what to do next. 

Outside of Capitol Hill, figures ranging from filmmaker Michael Moore to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan lambasted Obama for the military decision. 

However, Obama has the support of top Democrats like Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as well as key Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner, who noted the president should do a better job of informing Congress of his next moves. 

Several Democratic senators said that once the sky is free of Libyan aircraft, they are hopeful the bulk of operations will be turned over to French, British and Arab League partners. 

"There are many forces that are capable of helping," said Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., on "Fox News Sunday." "Eventually what you're going see is the Qaddafi position becomes less and less tenable, then you have an international mechanism, a special envoy to the U.N. who can move in and begin to start the negotiations." 

A senior U.S. defense official said Qaddafi's forces have been pushed out of the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi as a result of the coalition air strikes and have halted "their aggressive activity in the east." 

"This is the enforcement of a U.N. mandate, not a war against Qaddafi and his forces," the defense official told Fox News. "We were tasked with protecting civilians from attack, especially in the Benghazi area and to set up a no-fly zone. That's what we are doing."