Obama breaks silence on Libya, condemns 'outrageous' violence

President Obama broke his silence on the violence in Libya Wednesday, saying "the suffering and bloodshed is outrageous."

Speaking in the Grand Foyer after meeting with Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonA year into his presidency, Biden is polling at an all-time low The Memo: 2024 chatter reveals Democratic nervousness Second gentleman Emhoff acts as public link to White House MORE, Obama blasted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi — but without using the longtime dictator's name — for violating "international norms and every notion of common decency."

"These are human rights," Obama said. "They are not negotiable." 


With Gadhafi digging in and trying to retain his grip on power, Obama has been monitoring the unrest. He said he has instructed his national security team to present him with a "full range of options" for the United States to respond.

The president stressed that the unrest in Libya and the rest of the Middle East "is not simply a concern of the United States."

"The entire world is watching," Obama said, repeating a phrase he used during recent protests in Egypt.

Obama made clear in his brief remarks that he prefers a unified international effort speaking "with one voice" to stop the violence and hold the Libyan government accountable. 

The president has tasked Bill Burns, deputy secretary of state for political affairs, to make several stops in Europe and in the Middle East to consult with other nations. Obama is also sending Clinton to Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday where she will meet with foreign ministers at the Human Rights Council.

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Obama also sought to make clear the United States is not instigating an overthrow in Libya or any other Middle Eastern country.

The president read a statement from one Libyan who said, "we just want to be able to live like human beings."

"It is the most basic of aspirations that is driving this change," Obama said. He added that the United States will "stand up for freedom, stand up for justice and stand up for the dignity of all people."

The State Department is continuing to work to evacuate Americans from Libya, and Obama said that protecting American citizens in the regions is "my highest priority."

"The suffering and bloodshed is outrageous, and it is unacceptable," Obama said.