Skip to comments.Secret U.S. Trips to Libya Led to Weapons Pledge
Posted on 12/20/2003 5:01:50 PM PST by Sub-Driver
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By Tabassum Zakaria
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Secret trips by American intelligence officers, late night meetings with Muammar Gaddafi (news - web sites) and disclosures that the United States knew about Libya's arms programs led to Tripoli's pledge to give up its unconventional weapons, senior intelligence officials said on Saturday.
A team of American and British intelligence officers flew to Libya clandestinely in October and December for stretches of about two weeks, visiting sites where they were shown parts of the country's chemical, nuclear and missile programs.
They were accompanied at all times by Libyan "minders," drivers changed cars along the way, and the Westerners were ushered in to office buildings for meetings with Gaddafi that started after 11 p.m.
"Operationally, we did conduct this entire business as secretly as we possibly could so it indeed was the result of a series of secret meetings in Europe and then of course trips clandestinely to Libya," a senior U.S. official who was on the visits told reporters on condition of anonymity.
Gaddafi appears to have been the driver and motivator of the process that resulted in Libya's extraordinary weapons declaration, the U.S. officials said.
The Libyan leader's representatives initiated the process in mid-March by asking Britain to broker talks with the United States on its programs to develop weapons of mass destruction.
"During the meetings with Colonel Gaddafi, he was consistent throughout in his intentions to proceed with admission and elimination of their WMD programs," said one of the American intelligence officers, who attended the meetings.
In each meeting Gaddafi sent a message back to London and Washington. "It usually was late at night, but on each case he had done his homework and was ready for us and was quite generous with his time," he said.
When Libya learned how much the United States already knew about its weapons programs, that appeared to give Tripoli the final push to give up its banned weapons.
"I would guess that probably some time between the two visits actually is when we had some great success in demonstrating to the Libyans that we did know quite a bit," said another of the U.S. officials. "I would say between the two visits is when we finally made a significant breakthrough which led us to the more successful second visit."
The American and British team was taken to dozens of sites, where they saw centrifuges and parts for centrifuges that appeared to be in working order. They also saw tons of sulfur mustard produced about a decade ago.
While the intelligence officials believe Libya had an active nuclear program, they declined to comment on how close the country was having a nuclear weapon.
"Suffice it to say the Libyans were substantially farther along on uranium enrichment programs than had been publicly disclosed before," said an official involved in analysis of weapons proliferation. "And by far the most significant revelation they made to us was their disclosure of centrifuges. That was quite a milestone in their admission."
The Libyans also showed the team advanced missiles delivered by North Korea (news - web sites) in the late 1990s. "They did allow us to do some sampling. They allowed us to take photos. They allowed us access that we continue to regard as extraordinary," the official said.
The team was given access to scientists and facilities used for medical or pharmacological purposes, but found no direct evidence of any biological weapons programs. ((Reporting by Tabassum Zakaria, editing by Chris Wilson, Washington 202 898-8300)
We are at odds over several of policies. He spends too much money and hasn't controlled our Southern border. But this very genuine man, good man, and religious man has a view of good and evil that will change our world forever. Some who have a strong belief in God believe that He has had a hand in this and gave us this man at this time in history. God bless this commander in chief.
How could the administration have accomplished this without the services of Valerie Plame, girl spy outed by Dick Cheney?
Tom Jones, the singer who's been around forever.
On the other hand, I can just see Qaddafi deciding whether he'd rather stay in his palace or move to a spider hole. As long as W stays in office, that's the choice the terrorist tyrants have.