Lost over Libya

March 22, 2011 1:12:37 PM PDT
Is this any way to fight a war?

Oh, and oops, did someone forget to tell the American people that maybe something could happen to one of our expensive planes and, more importantly, two of our valuable Air Force pilots?

Is the bubble over the President's head: "Dang, I forgot to prep the peeps for military engagement?" Or maybe, "Dang, I also forgot to consult with Congress."

Pres. Obama came under fire from both the left and the right over his decision to send the Air Force zipping over Libya and the launch scores of $1.3 million-each Tomahawk cruise missiles. More than 160 of them so far, and the last we looked, dictator Moammar Gadhafi is still in power, although his ability to kill rebels is admittedly lessened.

Now, a $31 million F15 jet has crashed in Libya - "mechanical failure" the Pentagon was quick to explain, NOT a shoot-down from Libyans. (Although at $31 million "mechanical failure" isn't really acceptable either, is it?) The two pilots were rescued in dramatic fashion; fortunately they're ok. But the crash shines a light on just how little prepared the American people are for this sudden military conflict. Read the tick-tock account of the rescue effort, and another F15 is dropping bombs between the downed plane and Libyans who are approaching the plane. Turns out they are rebels who are trying to find the pilot, not Gadhafi's men. Later we learned that one of the Libyans who found the pilot was himself wounded by shrapnel from the strafing. There are conflicting reports whether that man was pro or anti-Gadhafi. Late this afternoon comes this quote from one of the Libyans injured during the bombing after the crash - one of half a dozen who were hurt. Said Hamid Moussa el-Amruni: "It (the bombing) was to protect their pilots to push back the Gadhafi mercenaries. It was a misunderstanding. We forgive them of this and we thank the coalition forces and America and France."

Polls show that most Americans support how Pres. Obama has handled the Libyan no-fly zone conflict. But that was before today's crash.

We'll have the latest on the situation in Libya tonight at 11, including the verbal pushing match between European members of this "coalition" as to who controls the mission if the U.S. scales back.

Jim Dolan leads our coverage.

Also at 11, it will be fascinating to get NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly's take on his meeting today with Attorney General Eric Holder. Law enforcement across the country is more than alarmed over the dramatic increase in the number of officers and agents shot and killed this year - 23 so far, compared to 15 last year. Law enforcement deaths last year were up by nearly half - Holder called it the "deadliest year for law enforcement in nearly two decades."

Holder met with Kelly and police chiefs from around the country. The answer, many would argue, would be tighter gun control laws. Gun control opponents will quickly scoff at the suggestion. To many the answer seems obvious: Outlaw guns and ammunition, or perhaps put a tax on them that makes them prohibitively expensive. It's working with cigarettes.

Gun lobbyists would say that is far too simplistic, and bad guys (they are mostly guys) are still going to get guns and bullets, no matter what.

And so what to do? Got any suggestions? CLICK HERE and offer yours. We'd like to hear.

Also at 11, our David Novarro offers 7 important tips about how to shop more smartly at the supermarket - avoiding the processed foods and making sure your family eats healthier.

We're also watching the weather tonight, because Meteorologist Lee Goldberg says that it's going to be a slushy, wintry, snowy mess out there tomorrow and into Thursday morning. And here you thought winter was over.

And a couple of other stories we're pursuing: We're waiting to see if charges will be filed against the estranged husband of a mother from the Bronx, whose body was found last week in Westchester County. The FDA is announcing all food imported from Japan will be immediately detained and not allowed into the U.S. (About 4% of all imported food comes from Japan.) And there's a renewed push for developers - stalled during the recession - to include affordable housing in their projects. Can you say City subsidies worth millions?

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa (in for a still-ailing Liz Cho) and me, tonight at 11.


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