Moussa Koussa, Libya’s chief spy and foreign minister, has been fed information from the CIA and MI6 according to the non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch. Moussa, who is now in exile in London, apparently exchanged reams of diplomatic cables with the CIA and MI6. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, in an effort to draw the Libyan regime closer to Britain, allegedly invited Qaddafi’s sons Khamis and Saadi to watch demonstrations of the elite Special Air Services and Special Boat Services according to a cable from Major General Searby, the Blair administration’s chief defence liaison on Libya. In tacit acknowledgement of the shit-storm such information would cause, there was to be no promotion or media of the event either in Libya or the UK. Of particular interest is the cable describing Abdel Hakim Belhadj, who is now the military commander for the National Transitional Government in Libya. CIA information in 2004 informed the Qaddafi regime that they were in a position to apprehend Belhadj and the apparent capture took place, Belhadj being shipped back to Libya for interrogation/torture. The cables also illuminate the Bush administration practice of rendition in which terrorist suspects were sent to foreign countries for interrogation, likely because they could employ torture to extract information. Belhadj has confirmed this by detailing his experiences in the Abu Salim prison in Libya, notorious for its brutal methods. To quote the Al-Jazeera article: “…CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood, without commenting on any specific allegation or document, said: ‘It can’t come as a surprise that the Central Intelligence Agency works with foreign governments to help protect our country from terrorism and other deadly threats. That is exactly what we are expected to do.” The British refused comment.
The cooperation between Qaddafi and the inseparable Western allies the UK and the US began with Qadaffi’s abandonment of programs developing weapons of mass destruction, following Bush’s now infamous ‘Axis of Evil’ State of the Union address. Formerly, Qaddafi was a bitter opponent of the West, masterminding terrorist strikes like the Lockerbie or Pan Am Flight 103 bombing. This terrorist act is still remembered by the victims’ families and resurfaced in controversies surrounding Qaddafi’s involvement with the Lockerbie bombing. In 2003, Libya took responsibility for the bombing in a letter to the United Nations Security Council but avoided expressing guilt, merely intimating extensive involvement with the operation. Libya also offered the victims’ families $2.6 billion in compensation for their losses in return for the removal of specific economic restrictions placed on the regime. During the beginning of the protests in February 2011 that have now toppled the regime, the ex Minister of Justice Mustafa Mohamed Abud Al Jeleil stated to Swedish newspaper Expressen that Muammar Qaddafi had ordered the bombing. Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, imprisoned for 8 years as a suspect in the bombing, continually plead his innocence and was released on humanitarian grounds 20th of August 2009, suffering from terminal cancer. That same day he was flown back to Libya. On the 28th of August 2011, Megrahi was found by CNN’s Nic Robertson in a villa outside of Tripoli in a coma. Megrahi’s release and the subsequent ‘warm’ reception by the Libyan dictator fanned the smoldering flames of the victims’ families and the release was heavily maligned in the UK and US press.
Frederick Nietzsche tells us: “Be careful when you fight the monsters, lest you become one.” All passengers and crew, 270 in total, died in the Lockerbie bombing. It is expected that their death was anything from painless to particularly torturous, as one worker reported finding a corpse of a passenger on the ground with grass in its hand. In this age of terror, or in this age of asymmetrical force, the ability of dedicated individuals to unleash chaos and destruction upon innocent civilians cannot be underestimated. In order to guard our freedoms we have to be aware that there are those, on both sides, who would strip us of these freedoms in the name of a deity, or in the name of security. When working with such deplorable characters like Qaddafi, one is disheartened to learn that the CIA and MI6 ever aided such a ruthless, blood-soaked madman. It is a balancing act and the fall from the precipice both disabling and terrifying. I do not seek to judge because I am not omniscient; however, we should all seek justice, for the Lockerbie families and all victims of terrorism. Yet, we cannot seek justice while simultaneously perverting justice. Realpolitik should be pursued with a sense of morality and fairness as well as dedication to eliminating whatever perceived or real threat may be on the horizon. Who knows whether lives were saved by cooperating with Qaddafi, and what price can we place on those lives saved in contrast to those lives lost? Is it better to pursue hardline policies or is the world more nuanced and thus requiring a more balanced approach. Again, the Nietzschean quote applies: there is a middle ground, but to stray from it is to go so far from where you began that little is to distinguish between that which you are, and that which you fight.