Crimes Against Libya – Redux

I’m always impressed by the mainstream’s ability to completely ignore the lies and illegality of the Washington leadership, and the case of Libya has exemplified that sort of willful ignorance. We know the rap sheet by heart at this point: waging a war without the consent of Congress and in violation of the War Powers Resolution, claiming it was humanitarian intervention even as much worse crimes were being committed by our clients, abandoning the UN mandate to protect civilians choosing instead to change the regime and kill civilians in the process, making Gadhafi out to be a monster despite having supported him merely a year earlier, supporting incompetent rebels who committed crimes and had ties to terrorism, etc.

But this is all a little too recent. Since American jingoes feel so comfortable bringing up crimes Gadhafi allegedly committed more than two decades ago, let us go back a bit and review some facts that I have not seen brought up since the war began.

Despite his own Executive Order banning the assassination of foreign leaders, President Reagan bombed Libya in 1986 in an attempt to assassinate Gadhafi (and his family).

One well-informed Air Force intelligence officer says, ”There’s no question they were looking for Qaddafi. It was briefed that way. They were going to kill him.” An Air Force pilot involved in highly classified special operations acknowledges that ”the assassination was the big thing.”

Senior Air Force officers confidently predicted prior to the raid that the nine aircraft assigned to the special mission had a 95 percent ”P.K.” – probable kill. Each of the nine F-111’s carried four 2,000-pound bombs. The young pilots and weapons-systems officers, who sit side-by-side in the cockpit, were provided with reconnaissance photographs separately depicting, according to one Air Force intelligence officer, ”where Qaddafi was and where his family was.”

The mission was the first combat assignment for most of the fliers. Qaddafi’s home and his camouflaged Bedouin tent, where he often worked throughout the night, were inside the grounds of El-Azziziya. The notion of targeting Qaddafi’s family, according to an involved N.S.C. aide, originated with several senior C.I.A. officers, who claimed that in Bedouin culture Qaddafi would be diminished as a leader if he could not protect his home. One aide recalls a C.I.A. briefing in which it was argued that ”if you really get at Qaddafi’s house – and by extension, his family – you’ve destroyed an important connection for the people in terms of loyalty.”

Again, the same blatant criminality and disrespect for the rule of law that we’ve seen the Obama administration and Congressional leaders partake in for the 2011 bombing of a non-threatening country.

And as for Gadhafi’s crimes of killing civilians? Well, as William Blum wrote in Killing Hope (the figures also appear here):

The bombs dropped on Libya took the lives of a reported 40 to 100 people, all civilians but one, and wounded another hundred or so. The French Embassy, located in a residential district, was destroyed. The dead included Qaddafi’s young adopted daughter and a teenage girl visiting from London; all of Qaddafi’s other seven children as well as his wife were hospitalized, suffering from shock and various injuries.

It was not claimed by the United States that any of the people killed or wounded had any connection to the Berlin Bombing. Like the mideast terrorists who threw hand grenades at al El Al ticket counter to kill Israelis simply because they were Israelis, and those who planted a bomb on PanAm flight 103 in order to kill Americans simply because they were Americans, the bombing of Libya was an attempt to kill Libyans simply because they were Libyans.

Not everyone was blind to the illegality, though…

Subsequently, two of Qaddafi’s children filed suit in the United States to stop President Reagan from launching more “assassination attempts” on their family. The suit, which was rejected in court, alleged that Reagan and other top officials, in ordering the raids, had violated an executive order that bars attempted assassinations of foreign government leaders. Another suit filed in Washington was in behalf of 65 people killed or injured by the bombing. Meanwhile, the US Navy was awarding 158 medals to the pilots who dropped 500 pound and 2,000 pound bombs in the dark of night upon sleeping people.

We knew Obama thinks of himself as Reagan-like, but come on…

The ability of Americans to actively pretend like the crimes of the American leadership – this time around and last – simply don’t exist is really an amazing phenomenon. It is nationalism‘s most notable achievement in the modern world.