Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Obama Says U.S. Will Stand With Libyan People Post-Qaddafi
President Barack Obama hailed the death of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi as a victory for the Libyan people Thursday.
UPDATED 3:28 p.m. ET
President Barack Obama hailed the death of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi as a victory for the Libyan people Thursday, though he cautioned the North African nation faces difficult days ahead.
"This is a momentous day in the history of Libya," Mr. Obama said in remarks in the White House Rose Garden.
"The dark shadow of tyranny has been lifted and with this enormous promise, the Libyan people now have a great responsibility to build an inclusive and tolerant and democratic Libya that stands as the ultimate rebuke to Qaddafi's dictatorship," Mr. Obama said.
The president added that the U.S. will stand by Libya as it travels "a long and winding road to full democracy."
"There will be difficult days ahead but the United States, together with the international community, is committed to the Libyan people. You have won your revolution," he said.
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CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports that a NATO airstrike flushed out Qaddafi when it attacked a convoy of vehicles in Qaddafi's hometown of Sirte, though it did not hit Qaddafi's vehicle.
Qaddafi escaped the vehicle and was hiding in a drainage ditch when the former rebels - now Libyan government forces - surrounded the fugitive dictator. It was not clear whether those government forces killed Qaddafi or if his own security forces killed him to prevent him from being captured and tortured, Martin reported.
Mr. Obama hailed Qaddafi's death as a vindication of his decision to put the United States in supporting role for a NATO-led coalition in Libya in place since the spring.
"Without putting a single U.S. service member on the ground, we achieved our objectives, and our NATO mission will soon come to an end," Mr. Obama said.
"For the region, today's events prove once more that the rule of an iron fist inevitably comes to an end. Across the Arab world, citizens have stood up to claim their rights," he added.
Mr. Obama was frequently criticized for his initial response to the Libyan uprising and for limiting U.S. involvement.
Republican Sen. John McCain called Qaddafi's death the end to the "first phase" of the Libyan revolution.
"The United States, along with our European allies and Arab partners, must now deepen our support for the Libyan people, as they work to make the next phase of their democratic revolution as successful as the fight to free their country," McCain said in a written statement.
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio was more critical of Mr. Obama.
"Let's give credit where due, the French and British carried the load on this. And let's not forget that," Rubio told reporters on Capitol Hill, also crediting the Libyan people.
"I think the president did the right thing, he just took too long to do it and he didn't do enough of it," Rubio added.
Additional reporting by CBS News Senate producer John Nolen.