McCain, Lieberman: U.S. should arm Libyan rebels

U.S. Senators Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., right, and John McCain, R-Ariz., left, talk in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011. AP Photo/Mohammed Ismail

Two senators said today the Obama administration should recognize a provisional government that seems to be taking shape in Libya's eastern half, and offer military aid to rebels seeking to overthrow Muammar Qaddafi.

Also today, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the U.S. is "reaching out" to Libyans trying to organize a post-Qaddafi government and is "ready and prepared to offer any type of assistance."

Clinton told reporters traveling with her to Geneva for a U.N. meeting Monday on Libya that "we are just at the beginning of what will follow Qaddafi."

She didn't say whether the U.S. might provide military aid.

She also didn't mention the provisional government, but just referred to "many different Libyans who are attempting to organize in the East."

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Speaking in Cairo today, Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., and Senator Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., said that the U.S. should do more to help Libyans fighting to overthrow Qaddafi.

In an interview Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," Lieberman pushed for more forceful action, including imposing a no-fly zone and arming Libyan rebels.

"The world has to do more," he said.

Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," McCain said that a no-fly zone should have been imposed in Libya, which he said would have stopped Libyan forces from attacking their own people.

"They're using air power and helicopters to continue these massacres," he said. "We've got to get tough."

While McCain said the U.S. should recognize a provisional government and offer assistance, he also said he was "not ready" to introduce U.S. ground forces.

"Look, Qaddafi's days are numbered. The question is how many, and how many [people] are going to be massacred before he leaves, one way or another?" he said.

McCain also suggested that anyone fighting for the Qaddafi regime should know they run the risk of finding themselves "on trial at a war-crimes tribunal."

The two lawmakers spoke Sunday from Cairo, where insurgents toppled the government of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak earlier this month.

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