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Newsday - LI Pols Back U.S. Military Action in Libya

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Location: Washington, DC

By Tom Brune

U.S. involvement in the international military action Saturday to stop Libya's Col. Moammar Gadhafi from attacking his own people won bipartisan backing from Long Island members of Congress.

But Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) issued a cautious statement saying he'll monitor actions to ensure the U.S. role remains "narrow and focused."

And Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Rosyln Heights), an expert on the region, questioned the failure of President Barack Obama to get approval from Congress for deploying the military, and raised concerns about the likelihood of the U.S. attacks causing civilian casualties.

After the strikes began, Reps. Pete King (R-Seaford), Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills) and Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola) issued statements of support.

The Democrats applauded the fact the U.S. role is not unilateral, but part of a coalition.

King disagreed with Ackerman's concern about Obama seeking a congressional vote.

"I strongly believe that the president of the United States has the inherent constitutional power to take military action against a foreign country without seeking prior approval of Congress," he said.

Israel recalled Gadhafi's terrorist attacks: "Long Island is home to many families who know the terror wrought by Gadhafi, having lost loved ones aboard Pan Am Flight 103." He added, "Now, we must stop Gadhafi's assault against Libya's civilians, but in concert with other nations including the Arab League."

McCarthy said the Libyan dictator's "merciless slaughter of civilians in Libya certainly demands response."She added, "I pray that these actions will be speedy, so that the Americans put in harm's way can return to their families quickly."

Ackerman, the top Democrat on the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, said the lack of meaningful consultation with Congress "is something to be resolved."

Ackerman said he thought the attack was a good idea, but cautioned "The claim on the other side is going to be that every one of the people killed by the U.S. and the West is going to be an innocent civilian victim" -- even if they aren't.

And, he said, it's possible that the number of civilians the U.S., the West and other Arab countries kill "is very possibly going to be a bigger number of civilians that Gadhafi killed."


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