Following a series of meetings with Libyan officials that has intensified in recent months, the State Department is close to re-legitimizing Moammar Gadhafi, according to senior administration officials and other sources close to the talks. Although State officially claims that it is doing so in accordance with the United Nations Security Council resolution relating to the Pam Am Flight 103 bombing, it is baffling that State would embrace a man who is an enthusiastic sponsor of terrorism, has both known terrorists and weapons of mass destruction within his country’s borders, and is actively developing nuclear weapons.
Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs William Burns, who represented the U.S. in the talks, briefed families of the Pam Am victims in Washington Wednesday. Some of the families are irate that they are being used as pawns in State’s ploy to revive Gadhafi, while others believe that State is simply fulfilling its obligations under the Security Council resolution. But the issue is even more highly charged within the administration, where officials outside of State’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs—which has never met a tyrant it didn’t like—have been frozen out of Libyan negotiations.
Since the beginning of last year there have been at least three publicly-announced meetings with Libyan officials—in addition to others that occurred in secret—to achieve State’s goal of completing Gadhafi’s campaign for redemption. “Compensating the victims’ families is just a convenient excuse for State to bring Gadhafi back to the world stage,” says a senior administration official.
Even though fighting the war on terror necessarily includes fighting Gadhafi’s actions to bolster terrorists and develop WMDs, State is using the war on terror as further justification for “engagement” with the despot. State has pointed to recent cooperation Libya has provided in terms of intelligence on al Qaeda—even as Gadhafi has poured untold millions into al Qaeda’s coffers, confirms a senior administration official. Gadhafi is cunning in his Qaeda support, though: He either pays “ransoms” to Qaeda affiliates or gives money to “liberation” groups who happen to exist for the purpose of killing innocents.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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