The American Bear

Sunshine/Lollipops

C.I.A. Played Major Defensive Role in Libya Attack | NYT

Security officers from the C.I.A. played a pivotal role in combating militants who attacked the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, deploying a rescue party from a secret base in the city, sending reinforcements from Tripoli, and organizing an armed Libyan military convoy to escort the surviving Americans to hastily chartered planes that whisked them out of the country, senior intelligence officials said Thursday.

The account given by the senior officials, who did not want to be identified, provided the most detailed description to date of the C.I.A.’s role in Benghazi, a covert presence that appears to have been much more significant than publicly disclosed.

Within 25 minutes of being alerted to the attack against the diplomatic mission, half a dozen C.I.A. officers raced there from their base about a mile away, enlisting the help of a handful of Libyan militia fighters as they went. Arriving at the mission about 25 minutes after that, the C.I.A. officers joined State Department security agents in a futile search through heavy smoke and enemy fire for Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens before evacuating the mission’s personnel to the apparent safety of their base, which American officials have called an annex to the mission. Mr. Stevens was one of four Americans killed in the attack.

A four-hour lull in the fighting beginning shortly after midnight seemed to suggest that the worst was over. An unarmed military drone that the C.I.A. took control of to map possible escape routes relayed reassuring images to Tripoli and Washington. But just before dawn, and soon after a C.I.A.-led team of reinforcements, including two military commandos, arrived from Tripoli, a brief but deadly mortar attack surprised the Americans. Two of the C.I.A. security officers who were defending the base from a rooftop were killed. [++]

Also, serves as a reminder that there are U.S. drones in Libya (being flown by both JSOC and the CIA interchangeably, apparently).

A year later, Libya is still a mess | Daniel Larison

One year after the U.S., Britain, and France began their war in Libya, the harmful consequences of Western intervention are readily apparent. The internal disorder and regional instability that the West’s assault created were foreseen by many critics. And yet, Western governments made no meaningful efforts to prepare for them. No one planned to stabilize Libya once Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown, and the National Transitional Council (NTC) rejected the idea of an outside stabilization force, which has left Libya at serious risk of fragmentation and renewed conflict. Intervention “on the cheap” may be more politically palatable in the West because of the low cost to Western nations, but it can still be quite destructive for the countries affected by it. 

Libya is now effectively ruled by the militias that ousted Gadhafi, and some militias run parts of the country as their own fiefdoms independent of any national authority. The most powerful militias in the western cities of Zintan and Misrata have refused the government’s calls to disarm. These militias believe that remaining armed allows them to retain political influence in the new order that they fought to create.

“Success” in Libya is creating a political and humanitarian disaster in Mali and Niger.

[…The] Libyan war and its aftermath have had the unintended consequence of undermining the doctrine of “responsibility to protect” (R2P) that was originally used to justify the intervention. Many advocates of intervention believed Western involvement would strengthen the norm that sovereignty may be limited to protect a civilian population from large-scale loss of life. Instead, the Libyan intervention helped discredit that idea.

A key requirement of the “responsibility to protect” is that intervening governments assume the “responsibility to rebuild” in the wake of military action, but this was a responsibility that the intervening governments never wanted and haven’t accepted. All of this has proven to skeptical governments, including emerging democratic powers such as Brazil and India, that the doctrine can and will be abused to legitimize military intervention while ignoring its other requirements. The Libyan experience has soured many major governments around the world on R2P, and without their support in the future, it will become little more than a façade for the preferred policies of Western governments.

Precedents for intervention | Comments from Richard Falk on Libya after Gaddafi

Looking at the Libyan experience from international perspective raises several additional concerns. The appraisal of the intervention as a precedent will be mainly shaped by whether what emerges in Libya seems stable, democratic, and equitable, and this will not be fully knowable for years. There are some aspects of the NATO undertaking that already make the Libyan experience a troubling precedent for the future. The UN Security Council, which authorized force under the rubric of ‘the responsibility to protect,’ was either duped or complacent, possibly both.

The authorising resolution, Security Council Resolution 1973 was framed by reference to the establishment of “a No Fly Zone” with the justification for force at the time focused upon protecting the threatened population of Benghazi. Yet this limited mandate from the UN was disregarded almost from the outset.

NATO forces were obviously far less committed to their supposed protective role than to ensuring that the balance of forces within Libya would be tipped in the direction of the insurrectionary challenge. If this intention had been revealed from the outset, it seems almost certain that Russia and China would have used their veto to block approval for any forcible interference under UN auspices. As it was these two states expressed their misgivings about encroaching on the sovereign independence of Libya during the debate and by abstaining when the vote was taken, and were joined by India, Brazil, and Germany as abstaining Security Council members.

It should be extremely disturbing that a restricted UN mandate to use force should be totally ignored, and then no action taken by the Security Council to reconsider the original mandate or to censure NATO for unilaterally expanding the scope and nature of its military role. It is not surprising that a Chinese representative speaking at a General Assembly discussion devoted to the freedom of religion should say, “human rights should never be used as an excuse for intervention”. If such a sentiment persists it could defeat even an urgently necessary protective initiative in the future. By ignoring limits the NATO undertaking may have destroyed the prospects for future responsible uses of the responsibility to protect principle.

Excerpt from Libya after Gaddafi: A dangerous precedent? - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

The Price of the Libya Intervention: Surface to Air Missiles for All | FPIF

On Mar. 18, President Obama told the U.S. Congress that U.S. involvement in the war in Libya would be a matter of “days not weeks.” It turns out, lots of days, 227 and counting.

“It’s really quite interesting how resilient and fierce they’ve been,” U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Ralph J. Jodice II told the New York Times. “We’re all surprised by the tenacity of the pro-Qaddafi forces.”

Besides the rather creepy use of the word “interesting” to describe people you are trying to blow up with 500-pound bombs and Hellfire missiles, the key word in the general’s statement is “surprised.” Aside from destruction, about the only truth of war is surprise. As Field Marshall Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, Prussian Army chief of staff, and one of the great military minds of the 19th century, once noted, “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.”

It appears that when the President made those comments, he had been listening to generals, always a very bad idea. President Johnson listened to generals in Vietnam, and they told him some variation of what our current generals obviously told Obama: Piece of cake. We’ll bomb the bejesus out of these Arabs, and in a few days they’ll turn tail and run for the sand dunes.

Except they didn’t.

In the long run the combination of bombing, ground support by British Special Forces, and the unpopularity of the regime will eventually defeat the pro-Qaddafi forces, but because this has turned into a war of some 34-plus weeks, there is going to be some very serious blowback.

For starters, take the 20,000 mobile ground to air missiles, most of which have gone missing. There are two basic kinds that someone—we haven’t the foggiest idea who—has gotten their hands on.

The SA-24 “Grinch,” or Igla-S, is a very dangerous character. It has a range of some three miles, a powerful warhead, and a guidance system that lets it find targets at night. It is similar to the U.S. Stinger that so distressed the Soviets in Afghanistan. Introduced in 1983, it can hit a plane at 11,000 feet. It can also down drones and cruise missiles, and helicopters are toast.

The other ground-to-air is the older Russian SA-7 “Grail,” or Strela-2, originally deployed in the 1968, but upgraded in 1972. It has an infrared detection system—it homes in on an aircraft’s engine heat—and the upgraded model has a filter for screening out decoy flares. The SA-7 is similar, but considerably superior, to the U.S. Redeye. The SA-7 has a range of a little over two miles and can reach up to 16,000 feet.

“We are talking about some 20,000 surface-to-air missiles in all of Libya,” according to Peter Bouckaert, Human Rights emergencies director, who says that “in every city we arrive, the first thing to disappear are the surface-to-air missiles.” According to Bouckaert, “They could turn all of North Africa into a no-fly zone.”

Libya: The real war starts now

Pepe Escobar posits a rough road ahead for Libya:

Everyone in Libya is now virtually armed to its teeth. The economy is paralyzed. A nasty catfight over who will control Libya’s unfrozen billions of dollars is already on.

The Obeidi tribe is furious with the TNC as there’s been no investigation over who killed rebel army commander Abdul Fattah Younis on July 29. The tribals have already threatened to exact justice with their own hands.

Chief suspect in the killing is the Abu Ubaidah bin Jarrah brigade - a hardcore Islamic fundamentalist militia that has rejected NATO intervention and refused to fight under the TNC, branding both TNC and NATO as “infidels”.

Then there’s the drenched-in-oil question; When will the Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG)-al-Qaeda nebula organize their own putsch to take out the TNC?

All over Tripoli, there are graphic echoes of militia hell in Iraq. Former US Central Intelligence Agency asset and former “war on terror” detainee, General Abdelhakim Belhaj - issued from the Derna circle, the ground zero of Islamic fundamentalism in Libya - is the leader of the brand new Tripoli Military Council.

Accusations have already been hurled by other militias that he did not fight for the “liberation” of Tripoli so he must go - whether or not the TNC says so. This essentially means that the LIFG-al-Qaeda nebula sooner or later may be fighting an arm of the upcoming guerrilla war - against the TNC, other militias, or both.

In Tripoli, rebels from Zintan, in the western mountains, control the airport. The central bank, Tripoli’s port and the Prime Minister’s office are being controlled by rebels from Misrata. Berbers from the mountain town of Yafran control Tripoli’s central square, now spray-painted “Yafran Revolutionaries”. All these territories are clearly marked as a warning.

As the TNC, as a political unit, already behaves like a lame duck; and as the militias will simply not vanish - it’s not hard to picture Libya also as a new Lebanon; the war in Lebanon began when each neighborhood in Beirut was carved up between Sunnis, Shi’ites, Christian Maronites, Nasserites and Druse.

The Lebanonization of Libya, on top of it, includes the deadly Islamic temptation - which is spreading like a virus all across the Arab Spring.

At least 600 Salafis who fought in the Sunni Iraqi resistance against the US were liberated from Abu Salim prison by the rebels. It’s easy to picture them profiting from the widespread looting of kalashnikovs and shoulder-launched Soviet Sam-7 anti-aircraft missiles to bolster their own hardcore Islamist militia - following their own agenda, and their own guerrilla war.

The Tet Offensive in the Rear View Mirror of the Afghanistan War | Richard Falk

[After] months of NATO bombing, the anti-Qaddafi movement seems on the verge of victory. As with Kosovo in 1999, the Libyans seem overwhelmingly opposed to Qaddafi dictatorial rule and solicited the intervention. In these circumstances military intervention can succeed, but at a high price in terms of devastation and civilian collateral damage, especially in a casualty-safe war carried on from the air. Yet the outcome [will] make clear, as the respected foreign policy expert on the UN and the Arab World Phyllis Bennis reminds us, whether it will be the Libyan people or the oil companies and NATO that benefit from the war and the destruction of the Qaddafi regime. We do already know, or at least should realize, that the whole NATO operation sets a bad precedent for the UN. Its authorization of the use of force back in March 2011 in Security Council Resolution 1973 was framed in terms of protecting civilians in imminent danger of massacre, but the NATO operation was carried out in such a manner as to achieve regime change by tipping the balance in what became an all out civil war. In this respect that guidelines in 1973 were so vague and loose as to be worthless or NATO exceeded the authority granted, despite the language of ‘all necessary measures,’ and there was no effort to contain the military operations within the intended scope of 1973. In this latter regard, the five abstaining states (China, Russia, India, Brazil, and Germany) are derelict in their failure to insist on adherence to the guidelines associated with civilian protection, which certainly did not extend to bombing the personal compound of Qaddafi or the state TV facilities. read on

ryking:

Evidence Mounts of Atrocities After Tripoli’s Fall

Survivors and rights groups say pro-Gadhafi forces committed possible war crimes as rebels moved into the Libyan capital last week, killing scores of detainees and arbitrarily executing dozens of civilians.
Human Rights Watch said Sunday its researchers have documented more than 110 corpses in four locations in Tripoli, many of whom appear to have been killed execution-style either while in detention or with their hands bound.
A metal warehouse in a compound controlled until last week by Libya’s elite Khamis Brigade contains about 50 scorched skeletons. A VOA correspondent who visited the structure said another eight bodies lie outside, one with his hands tied behind his back. A survivor said that as rebel forces approached, loyalist soldiers shot their prisoners, then tried to burn the bodies.

ryking:

Evidence Mounts of Atrocities After Tripoli’s Fall

Survivors and rights groups say pro-Gadhafi forces committed possible war crimes as rebels moved into the Libyan capital last week, killing scores of detainees and arbitrarily executing dozens of civilians.

Human Rights Watch said Sunday its researchers have documented more than 110 corpses in four locations in Tripoli, many of whom appear to have been killed execution-style either while in detention or with their hands bound.

A metal warehouse in a compound controlled until last week by Libya’s elite Khamis Brigade contains about 50 scorched skeletons. A VOA correspondent who visited the structure said another eight bodies lie outside, one with his hands tied behind his back. A survivor said that as rebel forces approached, loyalist soldiers shot their prisoners, then tried to burn the bodies.

(Source: diadoumenos, via utnereader)

History repeats itself, with mistakes of Iraq rehearsed afresh | Robert Fisk

Muammar Gaddafi vanishes after promising to fight to the death. Isn’t that just what Saddam Hussein did? And of course, when Saddam disappeared and US troops suffered the very first losses from the Iraqi insurgency in 2003, we were told – by the US proconsul Paul Bremer, the generals, diplomats and the decaying television “experts” – that the gunmen of the resistance were “die-hards”, “dead-enders” who didn’t realise that the war was over. And if Gaddafi and his egg-headed son remain at large – and if the violence does not end – how soon will we be introduced once more to the “dead-enders” who simply will not understand that the lads from Benghazi are in charge and that the war is over? Indeed, within 15 minutes – literally – of my writing the above words (2pm yesterday), a Sky News reporter had re-invented “die-hards” as a definition for Gaddafi’s men. See what I mean?

Needless to say, all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds as far as the West is concerned. No one is disbanding the Libyan army and no one is officially debarring the Gaddafi-ites from a future role in their country. No one is going to make the same mistakes we made in Iraq. And no boots are on the ground. No walled-off, sealed-in Green Zone Western zombies are trying to run the future Libya. “It’s up to the Libyans,” has become the joyful refrain of every State Department/ Foreign Office/Quai d’Orsay factotum. Nothing to do with us!

But, of course, the massive presence of Western diplomats, oil-mogul representatives, highly paid Western mercenaries and shady British and French servicemen – all pretending to be “advisers” rather than participants – is the Benghazi Green Zone. There may (yet) be no walls around them but they are, in effect, governing Libya through the various Libyan heroes and scallywags who have set themselves up as local political masters. We can overlook the latters’ murder of their own commanding officer – for some reason, no one mentions the name of Abdul Fatah Younes any more, though he was liquidated in Benghazi only a month ago – but they can only survive by clinging to our Western umbilicals. read more

thepoliticalnotebook:

Libya: The International Response
This is the list of countries that currently recognizes the NTC: Albania, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Britain, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Gambia, Germany, Greece, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Maldives, Malta, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Palestinian Authority, Panama, Portugal, Qatar, Senegal, Slovenia, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United States. /Al Jazeera Live Feed
China has not recognized the NTC, but essentially sends its best wishes, saying: “We have always attached significance to the important role of the National Transitional Council in solving Libya’s problems, and maintain contact with it.”/BBC Live Feed
Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev has said that they would consider formal relations if the NTC proves that they can provide a “new democratic start.”/Reuters
The European Union is working to unfreeze Libyan assets and remove sanctions, and is pursuing a UN resolution in the initial stages to do so./Al Jazeera Live Feed
The US is also working to unfreeze the Libyan assets they hold./US Dept of State
NATO’s Admiral Giampaola di Paolo says that “ the game is not over yet. Therefore we will continue the mission to uphold the UN resolution”  And also that ”there may be other boots on the ground, but not Nato.” /BBC Live Feed
NATO, which has been striking in and around Tripoli today, also says that it is not their job to find Gaddhafi. /BBC Live Feed
Photo: Libyan children celebrate in Janzour. Photo Credit: Ismail Zitouny/Reuters

thepoliticalnotebook:

Libya: The International Response

  • This is the list of countries that currently recognizes the NTC: Albania, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Britain, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Gambia, Germany, Greece, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Maldives, Malta, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Palestinian Authority, Panama, Portugal, Qatar, Senegal, Slovenia, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United States. /Al Jazeera Live Feed
  • China has not recognized the NTC, but essentially sends its best wishes, saying: “We have always attached significance to the important role of the National Transitional Council in solving Libya’s problems, and maintain contact with it.”/BBC Live Feed
  • Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev has said that they would consider formal relations if the NTC proves that they can provide a “new democratic start.”/Reuters
  • The European Union is working to unfreeze Libyan assets and remove sanctions, and is pursuing a UN resolution in the initial stages to do so./Al Jazeera Live Feed
  • The US is also working to unfreeze the Libyan assets they hold./US Dept of State
  • NATO’s Admiral Giampaola di Paolo says that “ the game is not over yet. Therefore we will continue the mission to uphold the UN resolution”  And also that ”there may be other boots on the ground, but not Nato.” /BBC Live Feed
  • NATO, which has been striking in and around Tripoli today, also says that it is not their job to find Gaddhafi. /BBC Live Feed

Photo: Libyan children celebrate in Janzour. Photo Credit: Ismail Zitouny/Reuters

Obama can modestly take credit for the role the U.S. played in Qaddafi’s downfall. And yeah, it’s great that he’s out of power. On the other hand, Obama has violated the Constitution; he willfully broke a law that he believes to be constitutional; he undermined his own professed beliefs about executive power, and made it more likely that future presidents will undermine convictions that he purports to hold; in all this, he undermined the rule of law and the balance of powers as set forth by the framers; and he did it all needlessly, because had he gone to Congress at the beginning and asked for permission to wage war they almost certainly would’ve granted it. So I don’t think this a quiet victory for Obama. I think it is a Pyrrhic victory for America. Our Constitution, laws, and prudential norms are too valuable to be cast aside merely because doing so arguably proved advantageous in a single situation that didn’t even impact our national security.
And nothing that happens in Libya can change that.
Why Libya Isn’t a ‘Quiet Win’ for America | Conor Friedersdorf

Too Soon to Declare Victory | Phyllis Bennis

The success of Libya’s uprising will have a great deal to do with the willingness of its leadership to break its dependency on the United States and NATO. In what might or might not be a positive sign in that direction, TNC officials have said they intend to call for United Nations assistance in holding new elections within eight months of taking power. But more immediately, if the United States and European countries turn over the billions in frozen Libyan assets directly to the TNC, the question of the breadth of its representation and its legitimacy become even more crucial. Will the TNC, eager to claim the billions of oil money being held by European and U.S. banks, demand that NATO and the United States pull back and allow Libya to sort out its own problems and develop its own trajectory for an independent future? During a Monday press conference, the president of the TNC, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, thanked the international community as a whole but singled out those countries that had been especially supportive of the TNC; the implication was unmistakable that those countries, presumably the United States, other NATO members, and Qatar (whose special forces had trained the TNC’s “Tripoli Brigade”) could expect closer ties and privileged access to Libyan resources in the future.

That, more than anything else, will determine whether a “new Libya” has a chance of becoming a truly new, unified and sovereign Libya, or whether it just moves from control by a small family-based autocracy to control by outside Western forces more interested in maintaining privileged access to Libya’s oil and strategic location than in the human and national rights of Libya’s people.

The Libyan uprising began as part of the Arab Spring, with an effort to depose one more Arab dictator. Current developments are moving towards that goal. But the complications of the Libyan Summer, and the consequences of the militarization of its struggle, leave unanswered the question of whether events so far are ultimately a victory for the Libyan people, or for NATO. Given recent models of U.S. and NATO involvement in overthrowing dictatorships, we don’t have a lot of examples of how it can be both.

“Gaddafi’s Days Are Numbered” | Battleland

Freedom is on the March.

How much time left?

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told us something we’d been waiting to hear Tuesday: “Gaddafi’s days are numbered,” he said of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi during a session with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at National Defense University.

But then we started flipping through the pages of our notebook, backwards through time until it reeled the mind:

Gaddafi’s days are numbered.

— August 15, White House press secretary Jay Carney

He’s really running out of time.

— July 20, Carney

His days are numbered.

— July 13, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

The noose is tightening around him.

— June 29, President Obama

His days are numbered.

— June 20, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland

We do believe his days are numbered.

— June 20, Carney

His days are numbered.

— June 16, Nuland

We feel that Gaddafi’s days are numbered.

— June 14, State Department spokesman Mark Toner

His days are numbered.

— June 2, Carney

Time is up for the Gaddafi regime.

— May 12, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen

Muammar Gaddafi’s days are numbered.

— May 11, Carney

I actually do believe his days are numbered.

— April 28, Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

His days are numbered.

— March 30, Carney

One of these days, they may be right.