Mark Hosenball reports:
President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing covert U.S. government support for rebel forces seeking to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, government officials told Reuters on Wednesday.
No sooner had the president finished speaking than the Times’s Eric Schmitt came out with a story undercutting the idea that America can be just be one partner among many in the Libyan operation. (American military involvement, Schmitt reported, “is far deeper than discussed in public and more instrumental to the fight than was previously known.”) The next day in London, representatives of the allied powers took turns insisting that regime change was, in fact, the coalition’s goal in Libya. And 24 hours later, with Qaddafi’s forces counterattacking and the rebels falling back in disarray, American policymakers find themselves furiously debating whether our air campaign needs to be supplemented by an effort to arm the rebels directly which would obviously represent a further escalation of the conflict, and one that would arguably fall outside the United Nations mandate that we claim to be enforcing.