Turmoil and fear in Libya

February 21, 2011 1:59:24 PM PST
Who would have thought it? That's the question so many people are asking about the attempted uprising in Libya.

The answer is: Everyone should have.

Moammar Gadhafi has ruled Libya with nothing less than an iron hand for the better part of four decades. But tonight, his grip on power - if not shaky, then certainly under assault.

The price in human terms has been huge: More than 200 people dead, hundreds more hurt. Troops have been firing on protesters. And now the six-day revolt has spread across the country.

And the defections have been super-high-profile. Two military jets landed today in Malta, with the pilots asking Italy for political asylum; they left Libya rather than fire on the demonstrators, as many of their Top Gun brethren had done.

And there is insubordination here in New York City as well. The Libyan Deputy Ambassador to the U.N. is calling for Gadhafi to step down. Ibrahim Dabbashi this afternoon condemned Gadhafi - saying he's declared war on the Libyan people is committing genocide.

Hard to imagine Ambassador Dabbashi will be returning to Libya, alive, if Gadhafi stays in power.

The revolt in Libya is the latest in a string of pro-democracy uprisings. Our Jim Dolan, just returned from Egypt, will have the latest on Libya, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, a disturbing story by our investigative reporter Sarah Wallace. She reports on potentially explosive and incriminating tapes of phone conversations made by Suffolk County Sheriff's deputies about a young man in custody - he was busted for a misdemeanor marijuana charge - who later died of brain trauma.

The tapes, which will be made public for the first time tonight at 11, were uncovered as part of a federal lawsuit filed by the family of the young man who died. And they seem to indicate that the man was, according to his family, grabbed by the neck, dragged into the cell, slammed against the wall, and then slammed to the floor.

Cops say only that the young man died after scuffling with one of the arresting officers and then falling hard on the cell floor.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Rob Powers at Yankees spring training camp in Florida, with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.


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