Reporting from Washington — President Obama's nominee for secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, told the Senate that he is concerned that some leaders of Libya's opposition may be extremists, even as officials disclosed that U.S. aid for those fighting Moammar Kadafi will fall far short of what the rebel group says it needs.
Panetta, currently the CIA director, told lawmakers during his confirmation hearing Thursday that worries about some members of the rebels' ruling body, the Transitional National Council, are "legitimate" and that U.S. officials are "watching very closely."
Panetta was given a friendly reception in the one-day hearing, and his confirmation by the full Senate appears assured.
At a foreign ministers meeting in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, of nations fighting Kadafi's regime, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the United States would give $26 million in humanitarian relief for Libya, bringing total U.S. aid to $81 million.
Other countries, including Italy, France, Australia and Turkey, also made pledges of aid at the conference totaling $1.1 billion.
But legal hurdles must be cleared before the money can be delivered. And the total is far less than the $3 billion the rebels have said they need to run a government and wage war for even a few months.