Democratic U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich and a former top State Department official aided Moammar Gadhafi right up to the time that rebels overran the Libyan dictator’s Tripoli compound, papers discovered there have disclosed.
The staunchly anti-war Kucinich disputes the notion that he provided such assistance. But a letter found in the rubble shows that he talked to a senior Gadhafi official asking for evidence of corruption within the rebel Libyan National Transitional Council so he could use the information to try to persuade the White House to remove support for NATO airstrikes.
And David Welch, President George W. Bush’s assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, told two senior Gadhafi henchmen that many in Washington would support the idea of the dictator’s stepping aside “but not necessarily relinquishing all power.”
A letter to Gadhafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, detailing the Kucinich conversation was discovered in the bombed-out Bab-al-Aziziya compound by Al-Jazeera journalist Jamal Elshayyal, who had been invited inside by rebels.
The eight-term Ohio congressman, who ran for president in 2004 and 2008, said he also was looking for links between the rebels and al-Qaida that would help his cause, Elshayyal reported.
Kucinich quickly denied that he had given support to Gadhafi. "My questions about the legitimacy of the war, who the opposition was, and what NATO was doing, were well known and consistent with my official duties,” he said in a statement.
“Any implication I was doing anything other than trying to bring an end to an unauthorized war is fiction."
The support given by Welch, who now works for the multinational company Bechtel, appears to go further, according to minutes of a meeting he had in Cairo, which Elshayyal smuggled out of the compound. Welch brokered the deal to restore diplomatic relations with Tripoli in 2008.
According to the papers, he met two senior Gadhafi officials, Abubakr Alzleitny and Mohammed Ahmed Ismail, in the Four Seasons hotel in Cairo on Aug. 2. On that same day Saif, who was considered the Libyan strongman’s heir apparent, appeared on Libyan television to urge his countrymen to continue the fight against the NATO-backed rebels.
According to the minutes, Welch advised the two men how to win the propaganda war against the rebels, and suggested several “confidence-building measures.”
“The documents appear to indicate that an influential US political personality was advising Gaddafi on how to beat the US and NATO,” reported Elshayyal.
According to his report, one of the documents read. “Any information related to al-Qaida or other terrorist extremist organizations should be found and given to the American administration but only via the intelligence agencies of either Israel, Egypt, Morroco, or Jordan . . America will listen to them . . . It's better to receive this information as if it originated from those countries..."
Welch also advised the tottering regime to take advantage of the unrest in Syria. “The importance of taking advantage of the Syrian situation particularly regarding the double-standard policy adopted by Washington . . . the Syrians were never your friends and you would lose nothing from exploiting the situation there in order to embarrass the West," the ex-diplomat is reported as saying.
Welch, who was ambassador to Egypt before becoming assistant secretary of state in 2005, promised that he would “convey everything to the American administration, the Congress and other influential figures."
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the department knew of the Al-Jazeera report. “David Welch, former assistant secretary, is now a private citizen. This was a private trip. He was not carrying any messages from the U.S. government,” she said.
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