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North Country reps respond to intervention in Libya

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The region's representatives in Congress are weighing in on the crisis in Libya. Bill Owens, the Democrat representing New York's 23rd Congressional District, says he supports efforts to free the Libyan people from the grip of a powerful dictator. But he also has reservations as the U.S. continues military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, 20th Congressional District Representative Chris Gibson, a Republican and retired Army colonel, says the U.S. has no business getting involved in Libya. Todd Moe has more.

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Reported by

Chris Morris
Tri-Lakes Correspondent

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"Certainly, I empathize with the Libyan people who desire to live free; however, I am deeply concerned with President Obama's decision to intervene militarily in their civil war," Gibson said in a prepared statement.

According to Gibson, the U.S. is already facing a "myriad of challenges."

Those challenges, Gibson says, include: completing military objectives in Iraq and Afghanistan; protecting the homeland from terrorist networks; and solving the country's economic woes.

Gibson says a "skyrocketing deficit" poses a tremendous threat to national security.

"Now is not the time to take on new missions," he said, noting that the Libyan people must "decide their own fate."

"We should stop our military operations immediately," Gibson said.

Bill Owens says there are two issues at play when it comes to the rebellion in Libya.

"On one hand, we have a situation where we have a group of people trying to overthrow a tyrant, which I think President Obama would like to support," he said. "On the other hand, we are engaged in a very heavy combat situation in Afghanistan and I'm concerned about American troops being over-extended."

"I'm particularly worried that the folks from the 10th Mountain Division stationed out of Fort Drum will see a decline in the support they need to complete their mission," Owens added.

Owens is also critical of the Arab League for not joining more aggressively in the Libyan intervention.

"I understand that they made have needed some of our resources, but I would have preferred for the countries that secure oil from Libya to real take up the forefront of this," he said. "And I'm not sure that is happening to the degree I would like to see."

Some opponents of the intervention in Libya are critical of Obama for using military force without congressional approval.

Owens says he doesn't see a constitutional issue at this point, noting that the French and the British – who have supported the U.S. in the Middle East – asked the U.S. for assistance.

"My only concern is, do we have a game plan here?" he said. "That is, how long are we going to be there and are we seeing who is going to support this, economically? Those are my two areas of concern. The president has clearly indicated that there will be no ground troops deployed, and I certainly would not support ground troops being deployed in that situation."

The U.S. joined several other countries over the weekend in launching air offenses on strategic targets inLibya. The purpose of the strikes, officials say, is to level the playing field between rebel forces and supporters of Moammar Gadhafi.

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