ABC News has learned that President Obama will this afternoon make public remarks confirming and discussing the death of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
The statement will be made from the Rose Garden at 2 pm, which has been announced since ABC News reported the president’s pending statement.
As for the president’s sourcing – how he knows Gadhafi is actually dead, given all the conflicting reports that come from that region – a White House official says that “the President will cite the fact that Libyan officials have announced Gaddafi’s death. We have also received similar reports through diplomatic channels and have confidence in this reporting.”
It was March 19, 2011 — seven months and one day ago — when President Obama authorized the Pentagon to begin a “limited military action in Libya” as part of an international campaign to “protect Libyan civilians.”
“Today we are part of a broad coalition,” the president said. “We are answering the calls of a threatened people. And we are acting in the interests of the United States and the world.”
At the time, Libyan military forces were approaching Benghazi, and there were concerns that tens of thousands would be slaughtered.
For the president, the tipping point convincing him that military action was necessary came earlier that week when it became clear that diplomatic efforts to stop the brutality of Libyan dictator Col. Moammar Gadhafi weren’t working. Presented with intelligence about the push of the Gadhafi regime to the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, the president told his national security team “what we’re doing isn’t stopping him.”
The initial phase of the campaign, led by the US, focused on destroying Libyan military assets on the ground and enforcing a no-fly zone. That was followed by a period after April 1 when NATO assumed leadership and the US focused primarily on enforcing the no-fly zone.
As reported by ABC News’ Luis Martinez, the US effort includes more than 70 aircraft and one US Navy ship, the USS Mesa Verde. As of September 30, the total US cost of the mission in Libya is $1.1 billion. The Obama administration has been firm in saying that there will be no US troops on the ground. However, in the effort to re-establish the US embassy in Tripoli, 16 US military members are currently there assisting State Department personnel.
As of today, Martinez reports, the latest numbers for US operations since April 1, 2011:
U.S. sorties – 7,725 U.S. strike sorties (doesn’t mean ordnance was dropped)- 1,825 Predator strikes where ordnance – 145 U.S. strike sorties dropped ordnance – 397
Overall NATO numbers include a total of 26,089 sorties, including 9,618 strike sorties (doesn’t necessarily mean ordnance was dropped).
- Jake Tapper