Political Notebook


Lugar and Libya

Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., made no public comment Thursday regarding the death of former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Lugar had been among the most vocal opponents of President Obama’s plan last March to order airstrikes against Gadhafi’s forces during the early stages of Libya’s civil war. On July 5, he spoke for 25 minutes on the Senate floor against a proposal to authorize U.S. military intervention for up to a year.

Lugar, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was among 18 congressmen invited to the White House on March 18 to meet with Obama ahead of the attacks. Rolling Stone writer Michael Hastings recounts the meeting in an article in the Oct. 27 magazine.

Hastings writes that, according to two sources, Obama “read some talking points off a paper” and then departed, leaving the lawmakers to ask questions of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Hastings reports:

“The congressmen were stunned. ‘It wasn’t a consultation,’ recalls one staffer. ‘It was an announcement.'” Sen. Richard Lugar, a Republican known for his bipartisanship and his expertise on foreign policy, was particularly incensed. He launched into a volley of tough questions: Who’s going to pay for the war? How much is it going to cost? What does it mean to Iran, Syria? Clinton and Gates were both present, but the answers they gave didn’t satisfy the senator. ‘They punted all those issues,’ says a source with direct knowledge of the meeting.”

When contacted Thursday by email, Lugar spokesman Andy Fisher said he had not read the article. Told of its content regarding Lugar, Fisher said the report seemed consistent with Lugar’s “public questions at the time.”