More Names for the Terrorist Watch List

Back to the Arab Spring. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called once again for Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi to stop fighting rebels. “As long as Gadhafi continues to attack his citizens, we will continue to strike his forces,” Clinton said at a Libya meeting in Rome. And the secretary of state made the goals of the operation very clear, commenting that Qaddafi’s departure from power “is the outcome we are seeking.” She also announced today that Washington has been attempting to “tap some portion of those assets owned by Gadhafi and the Libyan government in the United States, so we can make those funds available to help the Libyan people.”

Meanwhile, at the UN, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice echoed Clinton’s statements calling for Qaddafi to step down. She also faced criticism from Russia and China of the ongoing coalition airstrikes on Libya. The countries cited rising civilian casualties when urging coalition partners reach a ceasefire.The secretary of state issued a warning to Syria as well: “We have to show the Syrian government there are consequences for this brutal crackdown imposed on the Syrian people.” It looks like the EU will get on board with sanctions Washington began to impose last week.

Clinton of course couldn’t avoid the still-developing news of the death of Osama bin Laden. At a press conference with her Italian counterpart, Franco Frattini, Clinton reminded the world that the “battle to stop al-Qaeda and its affiliates” will go on despite bin Laden’s death. Entering the fray, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called the operation to kill the al-Qaeda leader “lawful and consistent with our values.” Holder was appearing before the Senate’s judiciary panel. He said he was “proud” of the Navy SEAL team that conducted the raid and that they did what they had to do, ensuring “that the loss of life was minimal or as minimized as it could be.” News reports have emerged that bin Laden was neither armed nor using women as human shields.

Holder also commented yesterday that an interagency team is carefully going over all of the material the raid team brought back from bin Laden’s compound. He surmised that a few more names would probably be added to the terrorist watch list as a result of the information found on hard drives, DVDs and storage devices.

Appearing before Congress yesterday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told senators that called for the administration to raise the terrorist threat level that Washington doesn’t have any hard evidence that would lead it to cry wolf right now: “We do not have any specific or credible intel that would lead us to issue an alert under this new system, realizing that under this new system the baseline is already elevated.” When questioned about that baseline elevation, Napolitano explained the changes made in the new warning system that was recently put in place. In the old system, she said, “we were always at orange and nobody paid any attention. The purpose of the advisory, in my view, is to communicate facts and information so people know what to do. So if we elevate the advisory it will be followed by information.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney announced yesterday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be in Washington on May 20 to meet with President Obama. The peace process which the U.S. administration made a top priority has been floundering of late. In the lull, the two ruling parties in the Palestinian territories—Fatah and Hamas—reached a reconciliation agreement, which Netanyahu has rejected saying Israel will not negotiate with Hamas.