Defense Secretary: Libya Did Not Pose Threat to U.S., Was Not 'Vital National Interest' to Intervene


The New York Times reported that Clinton, along with National Security aide Samantha Power and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, helped convince President Obama to take action on Libya. Rice, who worked on the National Security Council for President Clinton during the genocide in Rwanda, in which up to a million people were slaughtered, has expressed regret for not doing more to encourage intervention to stop the killing. Powers, formerly a journalist, wrote the seminal book on U.S. non-intervention during massive humanitarian crises.

The White House vehemently denied that Clinton, Powers and Rice were instrumental in pushing the President to approve the Libya intervention.

Clinton Says U.S.-Pakistan Relationship "Very Difficult"

Clinton made it clear that the U.S. relationship with Pakistan was not in an ideal place.

Tapper asked, "Has this relationship gotten worse in the last six months, U.S.-Pakistan?"

"Well, Jake, it's a very challenging relationship because there have been some problems. We were very appreciative of getting our diplomat out of Pakistan and that took cooperation by the government of Pakistan," she said, referring to the release of Raymond Davis, the American CIA contractor recently released after months in a Pakistani prison on charges of murdering two men in Lahore.

"We have cooperated very closely together in going after terrorists who pose a threat to both us and the Pakistanis themselves. But it's a very difficult relationship because Pakistan is in a hard position trying to figure out how it's going to contend with its own internal extremist threat," she said.

"But I think on the other hand, we've also developed good lines of communication, good opportunities for cooperation, but it's something we have to work on every day."

Worry About a Post-Saleh Yemen

Gates expressed worry in the interview about Yemen, after that Middle Eastern country's long-time President Ali Abdullah Saleh said he was willing to step down. Saleh was in talks Saturday to leave office after 32 years, according to The Associated Press. Widespread protests in Yemen have sapped Saleh's political support in recent days.

"Secretary Gates, you said this week we have not done any post-Saleh planning," Tapper said. "How dangerous is a post-Saleh world, a post-Saleh Yemen to the United States?" he asked.

"Well," Secretary Gates replied, "I think it is a real concern because the most active and, at this point, perhaps the most aggressive branch of al Qaeda -- al Qaeda and the Arabian Peninsula -- operates out of Yemen.

"And we have had a lot of counterterrorism cooperation from President Saleh and Yemeni Security Services," he said.

"So if that government collapses or is replaced by one that is dramatically more weak, then I think we'll face some additional challenges out of Yemen. There's no question about it. It's a real problem," Gates told Tapper.

In response to violence in Yemen last week, President Obama released a statement saying, in part, "I strongly condemn the violence that has taken place in Yemen today and call on President Saleh to adhere to his public pledge to allow demonstrations to take place peacefully. Those responsible for today's violence must be held accountable."

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