How Many More People In Libya Have To Die Before The US Takes The Next Step?: Today’s Qs for O’s WH – 3/7/2011

TAPPER: Is the United States working on draft language in the U.N. Security Council about a no-fly zone in Libya?

CARNEY: I don't have anything, Jake, on the process that I can tell you, except that it is a live option on the table that we're discussing with our partners .

TAPPER: But this -- there are reports just alluded to just a second ago --

CARNEY: Well, I understand that, but I don't have anything more than to say that we're reviewing that option as well as other options. Another option that NATO would be very much involved in is

enforcing the U.N.-mandated arms embargo, which is another thing that NATO would be involved in. So again, I just want to stress that the military options that we talk about are not limited to a no-fly zone but include a no-fly zone as an option.

TAPPER: When the president and the administration sent a message to those around Gadhafi talking about how they are going to be held accountable, they have to make a choice, are there any specific individuals that they have in mind, of the individuals around Colonel Gadhafi?

CARNEY: Well, certainly we know a number of the people around Colonel Gadhafi, and we are working to have a fuller list of people who can and will be held accountable for the actions that the regime is taking against its own people, the brutalization of its own -- of Libya's own people. And one of the points that I -- we have tried to make is that we are using the full spectrum of our intelligence capabilities to assist us in identifying those who must be held accountable for the actions that they're taking. And those who are around Colonel Gadhafi and making that existential choice right now about whether they want to be on the side of the Libyan people or on the side of a -- of a leader and a regime that no longer has any legitimacy, they should be fully aware of the fact that, broadly speaking, the world is watching what they do and they will be held accountable for their actions.

TAPPER: And just in terms of what has to happen for the U.S. to up the pressure even more on Colonel Gadhafi and those around him, we're obviously several weeks into this. He's shown no inclination that he's going to step down. He's shown, in fact, greater defiance than I think we've seen from others in that region who have -- such as Mubarak and others. At what point -- with the U.N. reporting that more than a thousand people have died in Libya in these fights, at what point does the U.S. say, okay, now we're going to do something? How many people have to die? How many -- how much of a threat to -- does there need to be to our energy needs? Or what needs to happen for the president to say, okay, that's enough?

CARNEY: Well, Jake, I would simply say that -- and remind you that when you say that this has been a couple of weeks already, that is a remarkably short period of time, from a point where Colonel Gadhafi was perceived to be, and was, in full control of his country, to the point where the international community is imposing substantial and punishing sanctions on him and his regime. And the international community, including in the Middle East, is speaking with one voice, calling for him to step down and to cease the violence against his own people.

We are -- I mean, we're talking here a matter of days and weeks that all of this has transpired. We are monitoring the situation very closely, obviously, and aware of the ongoing violence.

And as the president just did with the prime minister of Australia, we call again on the Libyan regime, the Gadhafi regime, to stop the inhumane, brutal, unacceptable assault on its own people and for Colonel Gadhafi to step aside, because he has lost all legitimacy in the eyes of both his people and the world.

TAPPER: I wasn't talking about it in terms of days so much as I was in terms of lives. And as somebody who covered then-Senator Obama on the campaign trail, he spoke with great eloquence about using U.S. force and the force of the international community -- not just words and not just sanctions but the force of the international community -- to stop slaughter.

And I'm wondering -- more than a thousand of people have died according to the United Nations -- how many more people have to die before the United States decides, okay, we're going to take this one step of a no-fly zone, for example; or we're going to arm the rebels, for example. What needs to happen? How many more people have to die?

CARNEY: Well, again, Jake, it's -- it is understandable that as we watch the images that we are able to get about -- that show us what's happening in Libya -- the urgency we all feel to be able to move and do something quickly. And I would simply say that the international community, with the United States in the lead, has moved with incredible rapidity to address the situation in Libya and continues to deal with this with great urgency.

The meeting today at NATO of the North Atlantic Council will be repeated daily this week as options are reviewed and considered. But I again would urge some perspective on the speed with which we and our partners have moved in reaction to this situation in Libya. And I think that comparative -- when you talk about what the president said on the campaign trail, that comparative is instructive. When you look at other events where international action has been required and how long it has taken, and compare to the speed -- compare it to the speed that was pursued in this case, I think we have moved rather quickly.

- Jake Tapper

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