Hayden: Gadhafi Must ‘Slither Off'

Tuesday, 19 Apr 2011 06:00 AM

By Hiram Reisner

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Former CIA chief Michael Hayden says U.S. options are limited and “not good” in Libya, and he wonders why forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi continue to back the despot. Hayden also said Monday on CNN that after months of upheaval in the region, the Middle East will never be the same.
“I think those of us who looked at it realized that in addition to whatever humanitarian mission we’re going to carry out, this was — in addition [to] our intervening in a civil war — that we have picked a winner [and] that we had to stay in it until that outcome was guaranteed. And if we didn't, then we would suffer the consequences of being the loser,” Hayden said. “And I think that’s where we are now. We’ve got a very uneasy equilibrium that the battlefield is not shifting very much, and here we are looking at our options as to what more could, or should, we do.
“They’re not good — they’re quite limited, — it’s kind of more of the same, hoping that the regime fractures,” he continued. “But, you know, I’ve been thinking lately — we talk a lot about who are those guys, and we’re talking about the opposition. You know, do we want to arm them? We don’t know their true identities, what are their future plans and so on.

“But I’ve come upon a new question in the past week or so — given the staying power of loyalist forces, I'm not talking about Gadhafi and his family, I'm talking about forces in the field,” Hayden said. “It’s been a month now that they’ve been out there under attack more or less from NATO airpower — they’re still there — they’re still fighting at least in a disciplined way, in terms of aborting and evading NATO airpower. What’s motivating them — who are those guys and why are they still there?”

Host Candy Crowley asked Hayden if Gadhafi leaves power, and Libya, where would he eventually end up.

“Frankly, Candy, several weeks ago . . . I pointed out that Secretary of State [Hillary] Clinton has often said Gadhafi must go — and I was always waiting for the rest of the sentence — must go where?” Hayden said. “And I think I suggested at that time, we had to give him an exit through which he could slither and go off-scene. It looks as if that’s now under serious consideration, and we’re looking for a place to which he can slither be off-scene and truly must not be involved in the future of Libya.”

Crowley then asked about reports the United States is funneling money to the Syrian opposition and asked whether Hayden believed it was true.

“It’s very difficult for me to comment on any specific operations or programs — but in general, I think it’s well known that we have spent money abroad for the purposes of supporting democracy in democratic movements,” Hayden said. “I wouldn’t be shocked if that were true. Actually, it’s really remarkable — everyone has been very careful in their language about Syria.”

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