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White House to Hold Classified Congressional Briefing on Libya

Updated: 3:50 p.m.

The White House will hold a classified Congressional briefing Wednesday on Libya, aides confirmed.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen and National Intelligence Director James Clapper are among the Obama administration officials slated to address Members of Congress. The briefing will take place in the Capitol Visitor Center auditorium.

The administration outreach comes as President Barack Obama has faced mounting bipartisan criticism on his approach to U.S. involvement in Libya and has struggled to publicly defend the action.

The United Nations Security Council authorized a no-fly zone Thursday in response to the Libyan government’s violent crackdown on political opposition. An international coalition, which includes the U.S., began enforcing the zone Saturday.

Speaker John Boehner sent a letter to Obama on Wednesday calling for a response on the “fundamental questions about our engagement in the region.”

The Ohio Republican asked Obama for a timeline for the military action and about the costs of U.S. involvement.

“The American people deserve answers to these questions. And all of these concerns point to a fundamental question: what is your benchmark for success in Libya?” Boehner wrote.

Boehner said in the letter that Members “are troubled that U.S. military resources were committed to war without clearly defining for the American people, the Congress, and our troops what the mission in Libya is and what America’s role is in achieving that mission.”

Several liberal Democratic lawmakers, including Reps. George Miller (Calif.), John Larson (Conn.), Dennis Kucinich (Ohio) and others, have also publicly groused about the limited consultation that the president and his staff has had with Congress before engaging in Libya.

Kucinich has called the president’s actions an impeachable offense and wrote a letter to Obama on Thursday of his plan to introduce a bipartisan amendment that would defund the U.S.’s role in Libya to the next spending measure the House considers.

Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote a letter Wednesday to his Democratic counterpart, Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.), that any U.S. military involvement requires oversight by the panel. The Senate Armed Services Committee is slated to hold a hearing on Libya on Tuesday. House Foreign Affairs Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) will also hold a hearing on the issue Thursday.

Still, Obama hasn’t been without his supporters.

Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) held a conference call Wednesday touting their support of U.S. involvement.

“It was the right course of action because if we had proceeded unilaterally, we would not have the kind of support around the world that is crucial to succeed,” said Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

Jessica Brady and Steven T. Dennis contributed to this report.

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