Reported in the NYT: C.I.A. in Libya Aiding Rebels, U.S. Officials Say:
The Central Intelligence Agency has inserted clandestine operatives into Libya to gather intelligence for military airstrikes and make contacts with rebels battling Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces, according to American officials.
While President Obama has insisted that no American ground troops join in the Libyan campaign, small groups of C.I.A. operatives have been working in Libya for several weeks and are part of a shadow force of Westerners that the Obama administration hopes can help set back Colonel Qaddafi’s military, the officials said.
This ought to prop up our standing in MENA, and solidify the standing of every pro-Western government in the region, bolster our diplomatic efforts and finally, lend the rebels much needed legitimacy among their Arab neighbors.
I’m totally disgusted. They couldn’t refrain from playing these stupid, unproductive games? Have they have zero sensitivity to what this means everywhere in the Arab world and how this will be used against us and against whomever we’re trying to get set up in Libya?
LET’S SEND IN BLACKWATER!
How can Congress object? After all, they aren’t “US forces” whose use will trigger a report to Congress under WPR requirements.
What is this country coming to? Is there a stupid bug going around Washington that I haven’t heard of or what?
This wipes out all the diplomatic gains made from doing the thing right and going through the UNSC. The coalition probably won’t last past tomorrow.
Time to end the intervention and get out. Now. Any good that might have come from it is gone.
UPDATE: jsfox asks the pertinent question, and though I thought this was obvious, on reflection, I think it’s not so much. I’ve just been hypersensitive to the mission goal since this started.
Is it a humanitarian intervention or an attempt at regime change?
The answer is “regime change” and here’s why. A humanitarian intervention to avoid a mass atrocity need only concern itself with a few cities: Benghazi, Ajdabiya, Misrata, Sirte, and of course, Tripoli itself. Perhaps a few population centers we haven’t heard much about. There’s no military need to seek targets elsewhere after his air force is effectively grounded, defected or obliterated. His navy is monitored as well. All one need watch for are movements of mechanized units, and when they approach these cities, they can be targeted. From the article I cite here:
The American military is also monitoring Libyan troops with U-2 spy planes and a high-altitude Global Hawk drone, as well as a special aircraft, JSTARS, that tracks the movements of large groups of troops.
These assets obviate the need for boots on the ground in the form of forward air controllers, spotters for fighter-bombers in the skies above.
This administration, however, has decided to do something else, and the presence of CIA officers reveals this. It points to something much more ambitious than the stand-off mission characterized by cruise missile strikes and air sorties from bases in England, France, Italy and from US aircraft carriers in the region. The stand-off characteristic is how the President gets to notify Congress without citing section 4(a)(1) or 4(a)(2) of the War Powers Resolution of 1973, but that’s also plainly false as revealed by the the article in the NYT, which reveals that Spooky’s in town which is a low flying, slow moving modified C-130 Hercules sporting the biggest gattling gun we have, a rapid fire 40mm Bofors cannon and a 105mm Howitzer. The same gun that the Marines use as field artillery.
The presence of the AC130 is effectively equivalent to landing troops for the purposes of the WPR. It is highly vulnerable and not anything close to being a stand-off weapons system. It’s an in-your-face weapons system, but if anyone has the guts to stand up to it with a man portable anti-aircraft missile, he stands a good chance of getting a hit. Probably not enough to bring one down, but nonetheless . . . .
Even if the story isn’t true, it’s the kiss of death to the transitional council. Nowhere in the world does CT enjoy such a warm welcome as in MENA, and the CIA figures prominently. Even highly educated people in Arabic speaking cities are willing to give a story involving CIA machinations some credit. And anyone who takes a pro-Western position risks being discredited through being labeled a “CIA stooge.” It has been an effective way to shut someone up.
Kind of like how some kossacks feel about Dennis Kucinich right about now.
It’s also the kiss of death to the coalition, which, unless I miss my guess, will shortly lose the support of the Arab League and the token participation of Qatar and the UAE. This support was central to getting passage of S/res/1973 (2011), and keeping it may well prove impossible. The next few days should tell.
It also highlights the fact that France, Britain and the United States lied to the Security Council, lied to Congress and lied to the American people in working to build support for the intervention. It was evidently never about protecting civilians, but was about regime change, which as we all know, is not provided for in the resolution, is actively opposed by some important members of the coalition, some members of NATO, and by many in the international community, including five of the world’s most economically powerful nations.
We were supposed to be proud of finally having adult leadership in the white house, but that’s plainly untrue now. This was an endeavor which demanded the most careful handling, and whose benefits in forging international cooperation would have been absolutely priceless. But that’s pretty much gone down the toilet now.
We can now paste a big FAIL sign over over Operation Odyssey Dawn. It’s toast.
UPDATE: Another nail in the coffin of Odyssey Dawn, if true, is the WaPo report that President Obama has made a secret Presidential finding authorizing covert aid be given to the rebels:
Although the administration has pledged that no U.S. ground troops will be deployed to Libya, officials said Wednesday that President Obama has issued a secret finding that would authorize the CIA to carry out a clandestine effort to provide arms and other support to Libyan opposition groups.
The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, insisted that no decision has been made.
It doesn’t matter. As I’ve said before, any role the CIA plays in the intervention is poison to the transitional council. The questions now become: Who will replace the council and how many days do they have left?