White House Response to Chaos in Libya

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," February 21, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


SEIF AL-ISLAM AL-Qaddafi, LIBYAN L EADER'S SON: Civil War. We will go back to the civil war of 1936. We will kill each other in the streets. Libya is not Tunisia or Egypt. Libya has oil which has unified Libya. There will be bloodshed. Rivers of blood will flow.

FAWAZ GERGES, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: The fact that Qaddafi has used massive force and you're talking about missiles, about anti-aircraft fire, it tells me that the regime itself feels that it is under threat.


BRET BAIER: The death toll is said to be in the hundreds, well into the hundreds at this point, in Libya. And Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi is said to be delivering a statement sometime tonight. We have been hearing that the past couple of hours, but he has not come out.

Here is what the administration, the Obama administration is saying, Secretary Clinton, quote, "The world is watching the situation in Libya with alarm. We join the international community in strongly condemning the violence in Libya. Our thoughts and prayers are with those whose lives have been lost and with their loved ones.

The government of Libya has a responsibility to respect the universal rights of the people, including the right of free expression and assembly. Now is the time to stop this unacceptable bloodshed. We are working urgently with friends and partners around the world to convey this message to the Libyan government."

That is the statement from the administration and we expect all that will be said tonight. We're back with our panel. Steve?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, that is a very carefully worded statement that actually avoids ever directly condemning the Libyan regime for the violence. They condemn the violence, they ask the regime to respect universal rights, but they never actually condemn the regime. I think that is pathetic.

You now have statements from senior Libyan diplomats to the United Nations calling genocide, said that the United States needs to step up and speak out. You have other senior Libyan military officers saying they have been asked to fire upon their own citizens. What we're seeing is a slaughter, it's a massacre, in Libya, and the United States has chosen to stand by and watch.

BAIER: Juan we had two pilots defected because they were told to fire on crowds. They flew out of the country.

JUAN WILLIAMS, COLUMNIST, THE HILL: And I think they did the right thing. But they are Libyans. It's their country. The diplomat is a Libyan. To have the United States get into this business, it's got to be very carefully done. And that is why I would not criticize what Secretary of State Clinton has said here. She has said that the Libyan government should stop attacking their own people. There is no call for this bloodshed.

HAYES: She didn't say that.

BAIER: But this is not-

WILLIAMS: She did. I think that's what this statement reads.

BAIER: It says it's unacceptable bloodshed.


BAIER: But this is different from Egypt, is it not? I mean this is a massacre on a broad scale.

WILLIAMS: And also this is a totalitarian regime. You know you could say that the Egyptians were authoritarian, but to some extent they had reforms that we have never seen in Libya. Libyans have been involved with acts of terrorism. That fellow who, in fact was involved, this guy is still in Libya. No this is a terrible terrible place.

I don't think there's anyone who would think that somehow the United States is trying to support the Libyan regime. The question is how do we play the game so that we do not get the cast as the ones who have stirred the pot and distract from the fact that the Libyans don't want Qaddafi anymore?

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I mean the distinction I wanted to make between Libya and Egypt is a very important one. There are regimes in the region starting with Libya, Syria, Iran, and, of course, Saddam's Hussein - Saddam's Iraq which were of the utmost brutality and savagery. And in comparison with those, the pro-American dictatorships like in Tunisia or in Egypt are boy scouts beside them.

Mubarak spoke plaintively, paternalistically, merely sort of delusionally about "I am your father, I am with you in the streets," but he would not conduct the kind of massacres, helicopter gunships, shooting on the crowds. Ya know, he sent a couple of guys on camels and horses with whips. That is a different order of magnitude from these people, who will slaughter in the thousands as happened in Iran, in Syria.

And I think that the distinction that we ought to keep in mind. There are dictatorships and then there are the places run like Caligula, and those are the ones that we really have to condemn. I am shocked by the toothlessness of that statement by the State Department.

BAIER: And quickly, we heard from the president numerous times throughout the Egyptian back about and forth, numerous times. Libya has been exploding for a number of days.

HAYES: Yeah, I find it amazing that we haven't had a presidential statement on this and a direct condemnation of -- either a direct condemnation of the violence or a suggestion that we are willing to shoot the planes down that are killing Libyans in the streets.

KRAUTHAMMER: In Egypt we said openly, we support the people's aspiration. There is none of that in our statement in Libya.

BAIER: More with this throughout the rest of the week. That's it for the panel but stay tuned to see what another ousted dictator may be up to now.

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