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HASC Chair Questions No-Fly Goals

The first Arab state has publicly committed to enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya -- Qatar -- as initial battle damage assessments of yesterday's air strikes indicate Qaddafi's air defense have been seriously degraded.

Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, director of the Joint Staff, briefed reporters Sunday afternoon and said initial reports indicated the allied strikes against Muammar Gaddafi's forces had struck both ground forces advancing on Benghazi and on key Libyan command and control centers, as well as the Arab state's air defense assets. The admiral also said Gaddafi was not specifically being targeted by the United States. His comments came several hours after Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said Gaddafi's removal was not a goal of the allied forces.

On the home front, the first signs of open worry from Capitol Hill surfaced with the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee saying he was, “concerned that the use of military force in the absence of clear political objectives for our country risks entrenching the United States in a humanitarian mission whose scope and duration are not known at this point and cannot be controlled by us."

McKeon said Obama has “an obligation to explain to Congress and the American people what his Administration’s goals are for these operations. “  The HASC chair, taking a position no unfamiliar to Republicans, that United Nations endorsement does not mean everything is fine. "A United Nations’ Security Council resolution is not and should not be confused for a political and military strategy," he said, adding that the last decade of war has taught us, that, "the American people must understand the scope and endgame objectives of military operations against another country.”

McKeon's stance is in stark contrast to that of the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Mike Rogers, a fellow Republican. Rogers has been firmly behind the idea for most of the week, saying that Obama was absolutely right to commit to the no-fly zone, especially after the Arab League committed to it.

McKeon did have some support in the GOP. Utah Rep. Jason Chaffez said yesterday he did not believe US force should be "unilaterally" used or that the US should be "policing" the world.

Anti-war Democrats may well join McKeon and Chaffez in questioning Obama's goals.

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