U.S. President Barack Obama took issue late Tuesday with the broadcasting of former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s bloody demise, saying even those who had done “terrible things” deserved decorum in death.
Qaddafi was buried in a secret desert location early Tuesday, five days after he was captured, killed and put on grisly public display. The former leader was seen on video being mocked, beaten and abused before he died.
“That’s not something that I think we should relish,” Obama told Jay Leno on NBC’s “Tonight Show,” when asked his feelings about the footage being televised. “I think that there's a certain decorum with which you treat the dead even if it's somebody who has done terrible things.”
Obama noted that his administration had not released a photograph of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s body after U.S. commandos killed him in Pakistan earlier this year, according to Reuters.
The president said Qaddafi had missed a chance to bring democracy to his country.
“You never like to see anybody come to the kind of end that he did, but I think it obviously sends a strong message around the world to dictators that ... people long to be free,” Obama said.
He said that Qaddafi, someone who for 40 years “terrorized his country and supported terrorism.”
“He had an opportunity during the Arab Spring to finally let loose of his grip on power and to peacefully transition into democracy. We gave him ample opportunity, and he wouldn’t do it.”
Obama’s appearance on NBC’s show was part of a west coast campaign and fund-raising swing as he gears up his 2012 reelection bid and pressures Congress to pass his job-creating measures, AFP reported.
The U.S. President also professed to be paying little attention to the long series of fiery debates among Republican contenders vying for the chance to take him on in next year's presidential election.
“I’m going to wait until everybody is voted off the island,” he quipped in a reference to the “Survivor” reality show.
“Once they narrow it down to one or two, I’ll start paying attention.”
The president also had warm words for Hillary Clinton, his one-time bitter Democratic rival for the party’s 2008 presidential nod, who is now his Secretary of State.
“I’m really proud of her,” Obama said. “She works as hard as anybody I’ve ever seen. She is tenacious... She has been, I think, as good of a secretary of state as we’ve seen in this country. She’s been outstanding.”
Obama, who has won plaudits for his foreign policy leadership, even as he has been criticized for his stewardship of the lagging economy, also discussed the killing in a drone strike in Yemen of al-Qaeda planner Anwar al-Awlaqi.
“This is a guy who was actively planning a whole range of operations here in the homeland and was focused on the homeland.
“And so this was probably the most important al-Qaeda threat that was out there after Bin Laden was taken out.”