Former deputy secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz said he's been "mystified" at how the White House has handled the bloody crisis in Libya.
"We've been just way too slow," Wolfowitz said in an interview airing Sunday on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS." "And that slowness, we're going to pay a price for, for a long time.
"Al Jazeera, which is no friend to the United States but which has become, with some justification, a hero of these revolutionary movements is taking the -- showing a picture of the White House or the president, why is the U.S. being so silent?" he said. "Why is it being as silent as these people? And then it shows pictures of the people who have been killed in the protests. It's a devastating image."
The former Bush administration official, who also served as president of the World Bank, was asked if the U.S. applying pressure to endangered leaders in the region would rattle countries such as Saudi Arabia and spread a message that Washington is angling for regime change.
"I don't think that's a legitimate reason to stand by a man who's slaughtering his own people," Wolfowitz said. "And I have a lot of criticisms to make of the Saudis, but I don't believe they're capable of this sort of butchery.
"We'd be in a much better position to say, look, with all its faults, Saudi Arabia doesn't treat its subjects as trash," he continued. "It doesn't kill them, brutalize them, and threaten to take them back to the Stone Age. So let's put Saudi Arabia in one category. We'd be in a much better position to do that if we were clear about Gadhafi."
Of the Bush administration decision to normalize relations with Libya in return for the country giving up its weapons of mass destruction, Wolfowitz said the White House gave Gadhafi "a lot by, in effect, saying you won't suffer the fate of Saddam Hussein."
"Some move was appropriate," he said of the restoration of relations. "I think we went too far. And I think the Obama administration continued that.
"Al Jazeera is having great fun showing pictures of Hillary Clinton meeting with Mutassim Gadhafi who is, I don't know which of his sons is the most hideous, but this is the National Security Advisor, he's a pretty bad man," Wolfowitz said.