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Obama shuns Oval Office for Libya speech

- The Washington Times - Monday, March 28, 2011

President Obama's choice of the National Defense University as the site of his Monday night speech to nation on Libya means he is forgoing the traditional backdrop presidents routinely use when discussing military action: the Oval Office.

Though Mr. Obama delivered remarks from Brazil shortly after the U.S. military launched cruise missiles at Col. Moammar Gadhafi's air defenses, Monday's address marks his first primetime speech to the nation since the attack began.

White House officials on Monday suggested that the choice of NDU — a Pentagon-funded higher education facility in the District — is more about highlighting the contributions of U.S. forces around the globe as opposed to minimizing the significance of military action in Libya.

"The National Defense University is a very appropriate place to give a speech like this, given the tremendous engagement and sacrifice that our armed forces have been making around — Libya being the case specific right now, but around the world in different areas," White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters.

"There are different venues to do this.  It’s still the president speaking to the American people at a time when we expect a lot of Americans will be home and able to watch."

Mr. Obama's predecessor, President George W. Bush, used NDU to deliver at least two speeches on the war on terror, in 2005 and 2007. But, like other commanders in chief, Mr. Bush used the White House to announce the commencement of military actions in both Afghanistan and then Iraq.

Former President Bill Clinton also spoke from the Oval Office to announce strikes on Kosovo in 1999 as well as a peacekeeping mission in Bosnia in 1995.

Mr. Obama has delivered two addresses from the Oval Office, both of which came last year. The first, on the BP oil spill in the Gulf, took place last June; the second, in August, announced the end of U.S. combat operations in Iraq.

But when Mr. Obama outlined his new strategy for conducting the war in Afghanistan, he chose to speak to an audience of cadets at West Point.

Asked about the contents of Monday night's speech, White House officials were particularly tight-lipped, refusing to offer any clues or excerpts to reporters ahead of time.

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