The Corner

‘U.S. Officials Aided Qaddafi’

An Al Jazeera producer digging through the rubble at headquarters of Libya’s intelligence agency claims to have found documents showing that a former Bush State Department official, now working with a large multinational with construction contracts in the region, was advising Qaddafi on ways to get the US and NATO of his back:

I managed to smuggle away some documents, among them some that indicate the Gaddafi regime, despite its constant anti-American rhetoric – maintained direct communications with influential figures in the US.

I found what appeared to be the minutes of a meeting between senior Libyan officials – Abubakr Alzleitny and Mohammed Ahmed Ismail – and David Welch, former assistant secretary of state under George W Bush. Welch was the man who brokered the deal to restore diplomatic relations between the US and Libya in 2008.

Welch now works for Bechtel, a multinational American company with billion-dollar construction deals across the Middle East. The documents record that, on August 2, 2011, David Welch met with Gaddafi’s officials at the Four Seasons Hotel in Cairo, just a few blocks from the US embassy.

During that meeting Welch advised Gaddafi’s team on how to win the propaganda war, suggesting several ”confidence-building measures”, according to the documents. The documents appear to indicate that an influential US political personality was advising Gaddafi on how to beat the US and NATO.

Minutes of this meeting record his advice on how to undermine Libya’s rebel movement, with the potential assistance of foreign intelligence agencies, including Israel.The documents read: “Any information related to al-Qaeda or other terrorist extremist organisations should be found and given to the American administration but only via the intelligence agencies of either Israel, Egypt, Morroco, or Jordan… America will listen to them… It’s better to receive this information as if it originated from those countries…”.

The papers also document Welch advising the Gaddafi’s regime to take advantage of the current unrest in Syria. The documents held this passage: “The importance of taking advantage of the Syrian situation particularly regarding the double-standard policy adopted by Washington… the Syrians were never your friends and you would loose nothing from exploiting the situation there in order to embarrass the West.”

This could be a potentially troubling story if true, but it’s also a perfect illustration of why we should be wary of treating Al Jazeera like a credible news source. True, the “Arab Spring” has showcased the organization’s unparalleled access and resources in the Middle East and North Africa, but access and resources don’t make for honest reporting. The piece goes beyond the usual “Americans are hypocrites” shtick that is by no means exclusive to any foreign (or domestic) press, and into the whisperings of a American-Zionist-Industrial Complex conspiracy that is the hallmark of paranoid greater arabia. Notice the guilty-by-proximity implication of highlighting that this alleged meeting between Welch and Qaddafi took place “just a few blocks from the US Embassy” in Tripoli,  and the obligatory roping of the Jews into the scheme (both bolded above). Then there’s the headline itself: “Secret files: US officials aided Gaddafi.” The implication here isn’t that a former Bush official might have given some diplomatic advice to a head of state that the U.S. made a BFD of normalizing relations with. It’s the that U.S. government itself is either double-dealing or riven by factions at cross purposes, and that in any event American officials (notice the plural) are conspiring behind the scenes to “aid” the man whose ouster was and is the point of a shooting war. But if  you keep reading beyond the excerpt you’ll find the Al Jazeera producer stumbling across further files that put Qaddafi’s sons in contact with exactly one “US official”, the “prominent” American congressman . . . Dennis Kucinich.

Kucinich denies any contact and the State Department says whatever Welch may have done he did as a private citizen. There might be a story here, and there might not. The point is that Al Jazeera has given us no reason to be sure one way or the other.

Daniel Foster — Daniel Foster is a former news editor of National Review Online.

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