Beneath that bland obfuscation, the momentum is all in one direction. The speed of decision making is seriously slowed by the friction of several concerns.
Some are worried about the legality of an apparent breach of an arms embargo. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton isn't one of them. She says a transfer of arms would be legal.
With "flickers" of intelligence that the rebels may contain al-Qaeda supporters come deep concerns that Nato would be arming the enemy.
Defence Secretary Robert Gates may have some doubts about this path.
After all, he was one of the CIA officers involved in arming the mujahideen in the 1980s. That's right: the guys who became the Taliban, whom the Americans are fighting to this day.
But most of the discussion is missing a much bigger point.
"Arming the rebels" is a convenient shorthand, but anyone who thinks it is that simple is living in an exciting Boy's Own world of adventure that bears little relationship to real military conflict.
Former CIA officer Bruce Riedel, who chaired Mr Obama's review of Afghanistan and Pakistan policy, told me: "This is more complex than flying planes over and throwing AK-47s on the ground."
The sort of heavy weapons that would make the difference require months of intense training. But Mr Riedel thinks the path is set.
We are past the Rubicon. Barring a miracle, the situation looks like a stalemate. If we don't want to live with that, it means boots on the ground.
He says that as America boots are politically out of the question, that means the rebel forces will have to defeat Col Gaddafi. My BBC colleagues on the front line say while the rebels lack serious weaponry, what they lack even more is a coherent plan.
Mr Riedel says as well as training in specific weapons they need "organisation and discipline".
"It is about turning a rabble into an army," he says.
It seems to me that this is a slippery slope. You provide weapons, so you provide trainers. The trainers need protecting. The protectors needs supply lines. The supply lines need protecting. Before you know it there are more than just a few foreign boots on the ground.
Mr Riedel again:
Mission creep is inevitable. That is why you saw such an anguished debate. Those most reluctant, like the defence secretary, know that and will want a clarity of mission and more troops. The uniformed military have understood from the beginning once you start these things they snowball.
America does have experience in this field. There was another conflict where it sent a few people to oversee the supply of military equipment to local fighters and the French. That expanded to a few hundred advisers, to supply a little guidance and little training at a distance. Before long some more troops were sent. That's when it became known as the Vietnam War.