August 23rd, 2011
11:47 AM ET
VINEYARD HAVEN, MA (CNN) – As the situation in Libya was unraveling over the weekend, a vacationing President Obama was trying to get as much intelligence as possible from his national security team. He’s an “aggressive robust consumer” of information said a senior administration official who did not want to be identified discussing internal deliberations.
Counterterrorism adviser John Brennan provided frequent updates in person. Other senior members of the national security team weighed in as called on and during at least two conference calls with the president, the official said.
With so much uncertainty and in the midst of what the president himself called a “fluid” situation, the White House wanted to be careful to have confirmation of critical details before sending the president out to make public statements.
His mood during this time was described by the official as “businesslike.”
“In just six months the 42-year reign of Muammar Gadhafi has unraveled,” the president told the nation. But he stopped short of calling the US-NATO effort there victorious.
Even though the administration has been criticized for not acting more forcefully to end the dictator’s reign much sooner, the official dismissed any chatter of vindication.
“It’s not what’s driving this,” the top White House official said. “What you see here is a lot of hard work….this is fundamentally in our interest.”
The administration is focused on helping the National Transitional Council establish a fair and peaceful transition to democracy. But the official insisted that there are still no plans to put U.S. boots on the ground in Libya.
Referring to the rebels the official said “They haven’t asked” for U.S. boots on the ground, “they don’t want” boots on the ground.
The official suggested that any support of that nature would have to come from international partners.
While the sun is setting on Gadhafi’s reign, his exact whereabouts remains unclear. The White House seems less concerned by that detail and instead is focused on this: “He’s definitely not in charge of the country,” the official said.
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