Documents show that the Bush and Obama administrations were intent on developing firm “military to military” ties with the Libyan regime of Col. Muammar Gadhafi. This was revealed in transcripts of diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks on Aug. 24. In addition, Human Rights Watch has released copies of papers found in Libya’s office of External Security in Tripoli, which disclose ties between that agency and the CIA and British intelligence. Photos of the documents were given to the U.S. media.
A memo sent from the U.S. embassy in Tripoli in early 2009, released by WikiLeaks, stated that the U.S. views Libya as “a strong partner on counterterrorism,” though it cautioned that “the Libyans remain wary of initiatives that put foreign military or intelligence assets too close to their borders.” Nevertheless, the documents indicate, Washington hoped to integrate Libya into AFRICOM, its military front that would rely on U.S. troops and bases in Africa.
The Wikileaks documents also reveal that in meetings with Muammar Gadhafi and his son Muatassim, U.S. Senator John McCain assured them that he would support their requests to purchase weapons from the United States, and that he “pledged to see what he could do to move things forward in Congress.”
Human Rights Watch has released a 2004 memo it found in Tripoli that was written by top CIA official Stephen Kappes to Libya’s then intelligence chief, Moussa Koussa. Kappes wrote in hopes of establishing closer relations, stating, “Libya’s cooperation on WMD and other issues, as well as our nascent intelligence cooperation mean that now is the right moment to move ahead.”
Some of the Tripoli papers open a window onto the practice of rendition, in which the U.S. sent prisoners to other countries for interrogation—including countries known for using torture. “We are eager to work with you in the questioning of the terrorist we recently rendered to your country,” Mr. Kappes wrote in the memo to Koussa, adding that he would like to send two additional agents to Libya to question the suspect directly.
It must be noted that none of the released documents demonstrate that the United States had any concerns at all about violations of human rights in Gadhafi’s Libya.
> The article above was written by Michael Schreiber, and first appeared in the September 2011 print edition of Socialist Action newspaper.