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Hamilton derides Congress, White House for missing bigger picture on Libya

Former Democratic Congressman Lee Hamilton, a member of National War Powers Commission,  said President Obama’s argument that the United States is not engaged in hostilities in Libya “is not supportable. Indeed, it’s a real stretch.”

Just before Hamilton’s appearance on MSNBC’s "Andrea Mitchell Reports," Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry introduced a bipartisan resolution to authorize the limited use of United States Armed Forces in Libya.

“[Not supporting the mission in Libya] would ignore our real national security interests and help extend the narrative of resentment toward the U.S.,” said the Massachusetts senator.

Regardless, the former Indiana congressman Hamilton says the White House and Congress need to stop arguing over the legality of fighting in Libya and start taking action. "You have, once again, the president and the Congress arguing process [over] 'who has the power to do what?' That's an argument that's gone on for decades if not centuries in this country."

He added that such arguments "divert attention."

Instead of "discussing the...key issue: What the United States should be doing in Libya," Hamilton said, "[We] see this rather arcane legal argument between the White House and the Congress, both of whom have their set talking points."

Hamilton said the United States should focus on protecting the Libyan people rather than ousting Libyan Leader Moammar Khaddafy immediately.

"[When you move] from protecting people to trying to remove Khaddafy, you change the nature of the game, you give Khaddafy no incentive to step down, and you do not really protect the people of Libya."

Though Hamilton said there is a possibility Khaddafy could "eventually" face removal.