Obama Administration Pushes Dual-Track Policy In Libya

Despite having CIA agents on the ground and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's exit as stated policy, U.S. officials continue to say the NATO-led military mission in Libya is only for its authorized humanitarian purposes.

The seeming discrepancy is part of a delicate diplomatic posture by the Obama administration on the complex overseas operation that involves a U.N. Security Council resolution, a multinational military force and the symbolism of presidential statements and actions.

With the military mission shifting Thursday to a new phase of full NATO control after initial U.S. leadership, divisions among alliance partners and within Congress became more evident, exacerbated by the administration's differing military and political goals.

President Barack Obama continues to insist that arming the Libyan rebels remained an option under consideration, while NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet ruled it out.

At House and Senate committee hearings, Republicans grilled Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen on the U.S. role in Libya.

"To say this is not about regime change is crazy," said Republican Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado. "Of course this is about regime change. Why not just be honest with the American people?"

Obama has said the motivation for launching military action on March 19 was to prevent a massacre of civilians by Libyan military forces descending on the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

Since then, airstrikes carried out mostly with U.S. planes and missiles have taken out much of Gadhafi's anti-aircraft capability and destroyed ground forces and supply lines.

While Gadhafi's forces have pulled back from Benghazi, they reclaimed territory from the rebels in recent days, leading to fears of a prolonged stalemate without stronger military support for the rebels.