McCain: Send Libyan Pilots Fatal Message

Friday, 04 Mar 2011 07:20 AM

By Hiram Reisner

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Arizona Sen. John McCain – who has forcefully endorsed a no-fly zone above Libyan skies – says it would send a clear message to those whose still support brutal dictator Moammar Gadhafi: “Don't fly or you're going to die.” In a Thursday interview with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren, McCain also said the Obama administration should “seriously consider” providing covert aid to opposition forces trying to topple the Gadhafi regime.

mccain, no-fly, libya, fatal, pilots“I think we should be imposing a no-fly zone. I think we should be trying to provide humanitarian aid. I think that covert aid is obviously also something we should seriously consider,” McCain said. “The people of Libya are being massacred as we speak. One of the world's most brutal dictators has promised to set everything on fire.”

Referring to President Barack Obama’s Thursday call for Gadhafi to step down, McCain – who recently returned from a visit to the region – said that now that U.S. policy has been clearly enunciated it’s time to act.

“If the United States' policy, as articulated by the president today [is] that Gadhafi must go, then it seems to me that we should prevent and take steps to prevent Gadhafi from being able to continue to kill people from the air,” he said. “We ought to move forward with that. And I don't understand frankly, the reluctance of people to support such action.

“And I want to mention that if we tell Libyan pilots that: ‘If you fly, you're putting your life in danger, and sooner or later, we're going to shoot you down,’ it's very likely they're not going to want to fly,” McCain added. “And we do have bases in Italy. We have a base in Sicily. And we have a capability – and it's complicated and it's difficult, but we do have a capability – to at least send the message to these pilots: ‘Don't fly or you're going to die.’”

Van Susteren asked if removing Gadhafi is U.S. policy, why is the administration reluctant to act.

“I agree with the secretary of defense that it's complicated, that it requires a lot of assets,” McCain noted. “They [the opposition] don't want us to invade. And I don't want us to use ground military force. It's certainly not something that's in the scenario in the near future. But they want us to stop Gadhafi from attacking them from the air.

“And some – we've recently heard from a group that called themselves a provisional government in Benghazi that say – ‘Please impose a no-fly zone, don't let him kill us from the air, if you can prevent it.’”

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