The Los Angeles Times reports:
The House of Representatives refused to either endorse or curtail U.S. involvement in Libya, delivering a mixed message Friday that highlighted deep divisions surrounding the issue.
By an overwhelming margin, lawmakers refused to sanction U.S. participation in a NATO campaign of airstrikes in the North African country, a vote that amounted to a rare, bipartisan rebuke of a president’s foreign policy during an active military conflict.
Minutes later, however, a Republican-led effort to try to curb financial support for U.S. involvement also failed. A majority of Democrats and a group of Republicans rejected the bill to cut funding for combat activities — surprising GOP leaders, who tailored the bill at the last minute to suit the rank and file.
Both measures were largely symbolic. The first measure, which would have authorized U.S. involvement, was not expected to pass the Republican-led House, where fiscal conservatives and “tea party” freshmen have expressed increased skepticism about stretching the military thin.
The second bill, to cut off funding, had virtually no chance of passing the Senate, much less garnering a presidential signature.
GOP leaders framed the vote as an attempt to rein in the president, who decided not to seek authorization under the 1973 War Powers Act for U.S. participation in a NATO military effort.
Meanwhile, Patrick Cockburn reports:
Human rights organisations have cast doubt on claims of mass rape and other abuses perpetrated by forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, which have been widely used to justify Nato’s war in Libya.
Nato leaders, opposition groups and the media have produced a stream of stories since the start of the insurrection on 15 February, claiming the Gaddafi regime has ordered mass rapes, used foreign mercenaries and employed helicopters against civilian protesters.
An investigation by Amnesty International has failed to find evidence for these human rights violations and in many cases has discredited or cast doubt on them. It also found indications that on several occasions the rebels in Benghazi appeared to have knowingly made false claims or manufactured evidence.
The findings by the investigators appear to be at odds with the views of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who two weeks ago told a press conference that “we have information that there was a policy to rape in Libya those who were against the government. Apparently he [Colonel Gaddafi] used it to punish people.”