Cables Expose Washington’s Close ties to Muammar Gaddafi

by Bill Van Auken
Global Research
August 27, 2011

Washington now calls for the murder of Gaddafi. This is the same Washington that while in the past praised Gaddafi for his developmental policies and called him a collaborator.

US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks on Wednesday and Thursday expose the close collaboration between the US government, top American politicians and Muammar Gaddafi, who Washington now insists must be hunted down and murdered.

Washington and its NATO allies are now determined to smash the Libyan regime, supposedly in the interests of “liberating” the Libyan people. That Gaddafi was until the beginning of this year viewed as a strategic, if somewhat unreliable, ally is clearly seen as an inconvenient truth.

The cables have been virtually blacked out by the corporate media, which has functioned as an embedded asset of NATO and the so-called rebel forces that it directs. It is hardly coincidental that the WikiLeaks posting of the cables was followed the next day by a combination of a massive denial of service attack and a US judge’s use of the Patriot Act to issue a sweeping “production order” or subpoena against the anti-secrecy organization’s California-based Domain Name Server, Dynadot.

The most damning of these cables memorializes an August 2009 meeting between Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his son and national security adviser, Muatassim, with US Republican Senators John McCain (Arizona), Lindsey Graham (South Carolina), Susan Collins (Maine) and Connecticut “independent” Joe Lieberman.

McCain, the Republican presidential candidate in 2008, has in recent speeches denounced Gaddafi as “one of the most bloodthirsty dictators on Earth” and criticized the Obama administration for failing “to employ the full weight of our airpower” in effecting regime change in Libya.

U.S. Senators like John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman previously praised Gaddafi.

In the meeting held just two years ago, however, McCain took the lead in currying favor with the Gaddafis. According to the embassy cable, he “assured” them that “the United States wanted to provide Libya with the equipment it needs for its security” and “pledged to see what he could do to move things forward in Congress.”

The cable continues to relate McCain’s remarks: “He encouraged Muatassim to keep in mind the long-term perspective of bilateral security engagement and to remember that small obstacles will emerge from time to time that can be overcome. He described the bilateral military relationship as strong and pointed to Libyan officer training at U.S. Command, Staff, and War colleges as some of the best programs for Libyan military participation.”

The cable quote Lieberman as saying, “We never would have guessed ten years ago that we would be sitting in Tripoli, being welcomed by a son of Muammar al-Qadhafi.” It states that the Connecticut senator went on to describe Libya as “an important ally in the war on terrorism, noting that common enemies sometimes make better friends.”

The “common enemies” referred to by Lieberman were precisely the Islamist forces concentrated in eastern Libya that the US then backed Gaddafi in repressing, but has now organized, armed and led in the operation to overthrow him.

The US embassy summarized: “McCain’s meetings with Muammar and Muatassim al-Qadhafi were positive, highlighting the progress that has been made in the bilateral relationship. The meetings also reiterated Libya’s desire for enhanced security cooperation, increased assistance in the procurement of defense equipment, and resolution to the C130s issue” (a contract that went unfulfilled because of previous sanctions).

Another cable issued on the same meeting deals with McCain’s advice to the Gaddafis about the upcoming release from a Scottish prison of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who had been convicted for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. McCain, who now fulminates about Gaddafi having “American blood on his hands,” counseled the Libyan leader that the release was a “very sensitive issue” in the US and that he should handle it discreetly, “in a way that would strengthen the growing relationship between our two countries, rather than hinder its progress.” Ultimately Gaddafi and other leading Libyan officials gave a hero’s welcome to Megrahi, who has proclaimed his innocence and had been set to have his appeal heard when the Scottish government released him.

Other cables highlight the increasingly close US-Libyan military and security cooperation. One, sent in February 2009, provides a “security environment profile” for Libya. It notes that US personnel were “scheduled to provide 5 training courses to host government law enforcement and security” the next month. In answer to whether the Libyan government had been able to “score any major anti-terrorism successes,” the embassy praised the Gaddafi regime for having “dismantled a network in eastern Libya that was sending volunteer fighters to Algeria and Iraq and was plotting attacks against Libyan security targets using stockpiled explosives. The operation resulted in the arrest of over 100 individuals.” Elements of this same “network” make up an important component of the “rebels” now armed and led by NATO.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Libyan Dictator Muammar Gaddafi

Asked by the State Department if there existed any “indigenous anti-American terrorist groups” in the country, the embassy replied “yes”, pointing to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), which it noted had recently announced its merger with Al Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Again, elements of the LIFG are active in the leadership of the so-called rebels.

An April 2009 cable preparing Muatassim Gaddafi’s trip to Washington that month stresses plans for anti-terrorist training for Libyan military officers and potential arms deals. In its conclusion the embassy states: “The visit offers an opportunity to meet a power player and potential future leader of Libya. We should also view the visit as an opportunity to draw out Muatassim on how the Libyans view ‘normalized relations’ with the U.S. and, in turn, to convey how we view the future of the relationship as well. Given his role overseeing Libya’s national security apparatus, we also want his support on key security and military engagement that serves our interests.”

A May 2009 cable details a cordial hour-long meeting between Gaddafi and the then-head of the US Africa Command, General William Ward.

An August 2008 cable, a “scene setter” for the “historic visit” of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Tripoli, declares that “Libya has been a strong partner in the war against terrorism and cooperation in liaison channels is excellent … Counter-terrorism cooperation is a key pillar of the U.S.-Libya bilateral relationship and a shared strategic interest.”

Many of the cables deal with opportunities for US energy and construction firms to reap “bonanzas” in the North African country and note with approval privatization efforts and the setting up of a Tripoli stock exchange.

Others, however, express concern, not about the Gaddafi regime’s repressive measures, but rather foreign policy and oil policy moves that could prejudice US interests. Thus, an October 2008 cable, cynically headlined “AL-QADHAFI: TO RUSSIA, WITH LOVE?” expresses US concern about the Gaddafi regime’s approach to Russia for lucrative arms purchases and a visit to Tripoli harbor by a flotilla of Russian warships. One month later, during a visit to Moscow, Gaddafi discussed with the Putin regime the prospect of the Russian navy establishing a Mediterranean port in the city of Benghazi, setting off alarm bells at the Pentagon.

Cables from 2008 and 2009 raise concerns about US corporations not getting in on “billions of dollars in opportunities” for infrastructure contracts and fears that the Gaddafi regime could make good on the Libyan leader’s threat to nationalize the oil sector or utilize the threat to extract more favorable contracts from the foreign energy corporations.

The cables underscore the hypocrisy of the US and its allies in Britain, France and Italy, who have championed “regime change” in the name of protecting Libyan civilians and promoting “democracy.”

Those like Obama, Sarkozy, Cameron and Berlusconi who have branded Gaddafi a criminal to be hunted down and murdered were all his accomplices. All of them collaborated with, armed and supported the Gaddafi regime, as US and European corporations reaped vast profits from Libya’s oil wealth.

In the end, they seized upon the upheavals in the region and the anti-Gaddafi protests in Libya as the opportunity to launch a war to establish outright semi-colonial control over the energy-rich country and rid themselves of an ally who was never seen as fully reliable or predictable and upset his patrons with demands for better deals with big oil, closer ties with Russia and China and the threat of replacing the euro and dollar with a “gold dinar.”

Obama Officially Owns Libyan War

As reported by the NYTimes below, Obama will be the only one to take the fall for the current illegal war in Libya and the proxy wars the U.S. wages against Syria and Yemen.

By
New York Times
June 18, 2011

President Obama rejected the views of top lawyers at the Pentagon and the Justice Department when he decided that he had the legal authority to continue American military participation in the air war in Libya without Congressional authorization, according to officials familiar with internal administration deliberations.

Jeh C. Johnson, the Pentagon general counsel, and Caroline D. Krass, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, had told the White House that they believed that the United States military’s activities in the NATO-led air war amounted to “hostilities.” Under the War Powers Resolution, that would have required Mr. Obama to terminate or scale back the mission after May 20.

But Mr. Obama decided instead to adopt the legal analysis of several other senior members of his legal team — including the White House counsel, Robert Bauer, and the State Department legal adviser, Harold H. Koh — who argued that the United States military’s activities fell short of “hostilities.” Under that view, Mr. Obama needed no permission from Congress to continue the mission unchanged.

Presidents have the legal authority to override the legal conclusions of the Office of Legal Counsel and to act in a manner that is contrary to its advice, but it is extraordinarily rare for that to happen. Under normal circumstances, the office’s interpretation of the law is legally binding on the executive branch.

A White House spokesman, Eric Schultz, said there had been “a full airing of views within the administration and a robust process” that led Mr. Obama to his view that the Libya campaign was not covered by a provision of the War Powers Resolution that requires presidents to halt unauthorized hostilities after 60 days.

“It should come as no surprise that there would be some disagreements, even within an administration, regarding the application of a statute that is nearly 40 years old to a unique and evolving conflict,” Mr. Schultz said. “Those disagreements are ordinary and healthy.”

Still, the disclosure that key figures on the administration’s legal team disagreed with Mr. Obama’s legal view could fuel restiveness in Congress, where lawmakers from both parties this week strongly criticized the White House’s contention that the president could continue the Libya campaign without their authorization because the campaign was not “hostilities.”

The White House unveiled its interpretation of the War Powers Resolution in a package about Libya it sent to Congress late Wednesday. On Thursday, the House speaker, John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, demanded to know whether the Office of Legal Counsel had agreed.

“The administration gave its opinion on the War Powers Resolution, but it didn’t answer the questions in my letter as to whether the Office of Legal Counsel agrees with them,” he said. “The White House says there are no hostilities taking place. Yet we’ve got drone attacks under way. We’re spending $10 million a day. We’re part of an effort to drop bombs on Qaddafi’s compounds. It just doesn’t pass the straight-face test, in my view, that we’re not in the midst of hostilities.”

A sticking point for some skeptics was whether any mission that included firing missiles from drone aircraft could be portrayed as not amounting to hostilities.

As the May 20 deadline approached, Mr. Johnson advocated stopping the drone strikes as a way to bolster the view that the remaining activities in support of NATO allies were not subject to the deadline, officials said. But Mr. Obama ultimately decided that there was no legal requirement to change anything about the military mission.

The administration followed an unusual process in developing its position. Traditionally, the Office of Legal Counsel solicits views from different agencies and then decides what the best interpretation of the law is. The attorney general or the president can overrule its views, but rarely do.

In this case, however, Ms. Krass was asked to submit the Office of Legal Counsel’s thoughts in a less formal way to the White House, along with the views of lawyers at other agencies. After several meetings and phone calls, the rival legal analyses were submitted to Mr. Obama, who is a constitutional lawyer, and he made the decision.

A senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk about the internal deliberations, said the process was “legitimate” because “everyone knew at the end of the day this was a decision the president had to make” and the competing views were given a full airing before Mr. Obama.

The theory Mr. Obama embraced holds that American forces have not been in “hostilities” as envisioned by the War Powers Resolution at least since early April, when NATO took over the responsibility for the no-fly zone and the United States shifted to a supporting role providing refueling assistance and surveillance — although remotely piloted American drones are still periodically firing missiles.

The administration has also emphasized that there are no troops on the ground, that Libyan forces are unable to fire at them meaningfully and that the military mission is constrained from escalating by a United Nations Security Council resolution.

That position has attracted criticism. Jack L. Goldsmith, who led the Office of Legal Counsel during the Bush administration, has written that the administration’s interpretation is “aggressive” and unpersuasive, although he also acknowledged that there was no clear answer and little chance of a definitive court ruling, so the reaction of Congress would resolve it.

Walter Dellinger, who led the Office of Legal Counsel during the Clinton administration, said that while “this is not an easy question,” Mr. Obama’s position was “both defensible and consistent with the position of previous administrations.” Still, he criticized the administration’s decision-making process.

“Decisions about the lawfulness of major presidential actions should be made by the Department of Justice, and within the department by the Office of Legal Counsel, after consultation with affected agencies,” he said. “The president always has the power of final decision.”

Other high-level Justice lawyers were also involved in the deliberations, and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. supported Ms. Krass’s view, officials said.

Matthew Miller, a Justice Department spokesman, said, “Our views were heard, as were other views, and the president then made the decision as was appropriate for him to do.”

France and the UK plan Military Cooperation

Reuters

Britain and France will launch a broad defense partnership on Tuesday that includes setting up a joint force and sharing equipment and nuclear missile research centers, a French government source said.

Treaties to be signed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron at a meeting in London will pave the way for an unprecedented degree of military cooperation between the two neighbors.

The NATO allies, western Europe’s biggest defense spenders and its only nuclear powers, have a centuries-old history of military rivalry and, more recently, have differed sharply over issues such as the Iraq war.

Their new partnership is driven by the desire to maintain cutting-edge military capabilities while at the same time reducing defense spending to rein in big budget deficits.

France and Britain will agree to set up a joint brigade-sized army contingent with air and sea support, which could assemble as needed to take part in NATO, European Union, United Nations or bilateral operations, the French source said.

British Defense Secretary Liam Fox confirmed the outlines of the agreement.

“We’re talking about joint expeditionary forces with our forces in all three services working together to develop common practices, better inter-operability, and to look to see where we get better common equipment,” Fox told BBC television.

“That makes perfect sense in a world where resources are tight, but our interests are increasingly common, but not always the same.”

Cameron’s government announced two weeks ago it was cutting Britain’s 37 billion pound ($59.4 billion) defense budget by 8 percent in real terms over the next four years to help rein in a record peacetime budget deficit.

COOPERATING ON CARRIERS

France’s aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and a British carrier that is just being built will be made compatible so that each country could fly its planes off the other’s carrier.

The ultimate aim is for the two countries to coordinate so that one carrier is at sea at all times.

The two countries will agree to share nuclear warhead research and simulation centers, the source said. With nuclear missile tests banned, sophisticated laboratories permit both countries to test the safety of their warheads.

“This signifies that we have reached an unprecedented level of trust,” the French source said. “It’s this step taken in the nuclear domain that allows us to go further elsewhere.”

The source said London and Paris were negotiating with Airbus on a deal to maintain their future fleet of A400M military transport planes. The contract is expected to be signed at the end of 2011, he said.

France will look at using some of the spare capacity that Britain expects to have in military refueling planes once it takes delivery of 14 new Airbus tankers, the source said.

British legislators have criticized Britain’s 10 billion pound ($16 billion) contract to lease tankers from an EADS-led consortium as poor value for money — but allowing France some use of them could mitigate this.

A top British military official has said it would make sense for the U.S. Air Force also to choose EADS tankers, rather than ones made by U.S. company Boeing.

Britain and France will work together in developing technology for future generations of nuclear submarines, missiles, aerial drones, maritime anti-mine systems and military communications satellites, the source said.

They will also seek to strengthen their cooperation in cyber security and the fight against terrorism.