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Libyan sincerity on arms in doubt
Question of the Day
The United States stood by for years as supposed allies helped its enemies obtain the world’s most dangerous weapons, reveals Bill Gertz, defense and national security reporter for The Washington Times, in the new book “Treachery” (Crown Forum).
Second of three excerpts
Musa Kusa, the head of Libya’s spy agency, got the attention of Britain’s Foreign Office and MI6 intelligence service when he contacted them in March 2003.
Kusa was a man with blood on his hands. He had been deputy chief of Libyan intelligence when two of its agents were dispatched to blow up Pan Am Flight 103 in December 1988, killing all 259 on board and 11 on the ground.
When Kusa informed the British officials that he had an offer from Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, they heard him out.
Kusa said Libya would agree to rid itself of all nuclear and chemical weapons and materials, along with longer-range missile delivery systems. Gadhafi’s condition: Britain and the United States must help remove the sanctions on his regime and normalize relations with Libya, an officially designated state sponsor of terrorism.
The CIA was skeptical.
“You’re talking to the most suspicious organization in the world,” said one intelligence official who was closely involved in the negotiations.
Still, a decision was made at the highest levels of both governments — by President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair — to pursue the talks.
To Douglas Feith, U.S. undersecretary of defense for policy, Gadhafi’s apparent decision to “open up” reflected a victory in Bush’s global war on terrorism, which focused on the connections among terrorist organizations, weapons of mass destruction and state sponsors of terrorism.
For many years, Gadhafi tried to remain at that intersection while attempting to buy his way off the list of rogue states, Feith said.
“When President Bush made it clear that living at that intersection is really dangerous,” Feith said, “Gadhafi decided he was going to come clean.”
Over several months, CIA officers and British diplomatic and intelligence officials held secret meetings with Libyan representatives in London. In May 2003, Gadhafi himself met with U.S. and British officials in Tunisia. That fall, a CIA and MI6 team visited Libya.
By Matt Kibbe
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