The Coastal Post - July 1999

The Bully With Dirty Tricks

By Edward W. Miller

Until recently, Libyans were suffering from both an embargo and severe air-travel restrictions imposed in April, 1992, by the UN Security Council under Resolution 731. The U.S., France and Britain being parties to the dispute under UN rules, should have abstained from voting, but voted illegally in order to pass the Resolution. The air embargo affected the day-to-day life of Khaddafy's people. As John Holliman noted (CNN, 6-26-93): "Libya is isolated. No airplanes fly in or out of the country. Businessmen, diplomats and tourists must travel overland from the closest airport in Jerba, Tunisia, four hours on dangerous back country roads." In a Memorandum from Libya to the UN Secretary-General in May of 1992, their health authorities complained that necessary medical supplies which quickly deteriorate in the tropics and require air transportation were denied Libyan citizens (vaccines, insulin, bacterial culture reagents). Their severely ill were denied access to hospitals in Europe and foreign specialists were denied visas to Libya. Bush responded by asking the Security Council to expand the embargo to include Libya's chief export, oil, but failed to receive European support.

Though today the two Libyans accused in the Pan-Am bombing await trial in custody in the Hague, and the UN on April 5th lifted its long-imposed embargo, the U.S. and Britain are not letting Khaddafy off the hook. In a recent hearing on Capital Hill, Clinton's Jewish advisor on Middle East affairs, Martin Indyk (Indyk had earlier served Shamir in Israel), stated, "Libya must end and renounce all forms of terrorism, and pay appropriate compensation to the victims... otherwise the United States is prepared to veto any resolution to end the sanctions."

Many Americans, ignorant of history and attuned to a government-subservient media, see Libya's Omar Khaddafy as a demon, a terrorist, a threat to Mideast peace. Khaddafy, a Muslim, graduated from Sandhurst, a prestigious English military academy. In a 1969 coup assisted by our CIA, he overthrew pro-western King Idris and joined the Arab League. Khaddafy forced the U.S. to close its huge Wheelus Air Force Base, ousted the British navy from Tripoli, and nationalized Libyan oil. Because of these acts and because, unlike the former king he refused to become our puppet, he quickly became the target of U.S. anger. U.S. attitude did not improve when Khadaffy lent support to the IRA in Ireland, to the PLO and to those Philippine groups opposing Marcos' corrupt regime. Our State Department, always angry at any foreign leader it can't control, has replied with a series of dirty tricks aimed at unseating Khaddafy:

On June 27, 1980, Itavia Flight 870, with 81 persons aboard flying from Bologna, Italy to Palermo, Sicily disappeared from the radar screen just before 9 p.m. though Italian officials suggested "structural failure," when the wreckage was eventually brought up from the ocean floor, experts agreed the plane had been brought down by an air-to-air missile. Khaddafy in a special radio broadcast had claimed his private jet was in that same air space that night and suggested NATO jets had mistaken the Italian DC-9 for their intended target. Fighter jets from carriers of both French and U.S. fleets were in the area when Flight 870 disappeared. Both countries denied culpability but refused to cooperate in the investigation. Thirteen years after the shoot-down, the key witness in the on-going investigation was murdered on January, 1993. (CBS 60 Minutes, May 23, 1993).

In the early '80s, the CIA's secret plan, supervised by National Security advisor John M. Poindexter, released false and inflammatory articles in the Wall Street Journal and other papers as "authoritative intelligence information" to deceive Khaddafy into thinking his key advisors were plotting with the U.S. military to remove him from office. This subversion was uncovered and reported by the Washington Post on October 2, 1985. Under pressure from the press President Reagan initially denied but then admitted this covert activity.

Next, in retaliation for supposed Libyan involvement in the bombing of a discotheque, La Belle Disco, in Berlin in 1985, which killed two American soldiers and wounded 229 patrons, Reagan launched an air strike against Libya both at Tripoli and the port city Benghazi. One hundred eleven U.S. fighter jets destroyed Khaddafy's home and headquarters, and killed over 70 Libyans, including Khaddafy's little daughter. Not long after that, Reagan taunted Khaddafy by parading our carriers just off his coast where our jets shot down two Libyan fighters.

The disco bombing case reopened November 19, 1997, in a Berlin court. Musbah Abulghasem Eter confessed, identifying five others. The U.S.' joyful expectations in identifying Khadaffy as an accomplice was short-lived. On Tuesday, December 2, 1997, the AP wire service from Berlin reported: "the witness... retracted his alleged confession... denying either he or his four defendants were involved... the Libyan Embassy... had nothing to do with it." He denied even confessing, saying his statements "...had been poorly translated or misunderstood."

In 1988, after Pam Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie on December 21, killing all 270 aboard, our FBI searched wildly for someone to blame. On the McNeill-Lehrer NewsHour, May 15, 1990, Steve Emerson, Jewish writer (who had co-authored a book on the Lockerbie tragedy) said: "I think we should retaliate against the government of Iran and possibly...Syria." In 1988, the Scottish police had complained that our FBI removed a suitcase found on the ground near Lockerbie. Their police became suspicious of U.S. motives after the FBI insisted the returned suitcase be dropped in some appropriate Scottish field to be "rediscovered." The FBI later announced that suitcase had been placed aboard the Pan Am plane in Frankfort unaccompanied by any passenger, and supposedly traced it to Malta Airways, targeting two Libyan nationals whom Khaddafy was then ordered to turn over to either U.S. or British courts for trial. Meanwhile, a joint enquiry by the Maltese and Libyan governments reported that no unaccompanied suitcase was loaded on board that Maltese airplane Flight 180 RM heading for Frankfort. Khadaffy arrested the two suspects, brought criminal charges against them, tried them in a Libyan court, inviting outsiders to view the procedures, thus complying with the 1971 Montreal Sabotage Convention of which Libya, as well as the U.S. and Britain, is a member. The two were found not guilty. Having observed the corrupt British Diploc courts, and the Bush Administration's ugly manipulation of Florida's federal court during the Noriega trial, Khaddafy demanded further hearings be carried out in the World Court at the Hague. Since Libya had no extradition treaty with either the U.S. or Britain, Khaddafy was no under no obligation to release the accused to these powers.

In a media interview on June 26, 1993, Jesse Jackson had asked Khaddafy, "Would you encourage them [the two accused] voluntarily to go and face or test U.S. courts or British courts?" Col. Khaddafy: "They are afraid of America and England... they bombed their country, they killed the children, innocent people, in 1985. How do we tell them "go to these two countries" when they are savage like this? America and Britain, particularly America...they fear it is terrorist."

Keeping up the heat on Khadaffy, President Reagan in 1989 warned Libya that a plant at Rabta for manufacturing pharmaceuticals, being constructed some 40 miles from Tripoli, was in fact "making poison gas" and should be closed down. Khadaffy denied the charges. After Bush came to power and the controversy resurfaced, the Bonn government in Germany organized a European group, inspected the factory and reported pharmaceuticals were being made. Our government's response was two-fold: You fellows are not experts and anyway, the Libyans could switch to poison gas manufacture anytime. On March 18, 1990, the plant was reported to be on fire, but a French satellite picture showed the main structures intact. Our CIA was accused of arson.

Not long after Khaddafy had initiated in 1983 a huge engineering enterprise to bring water from the Sahara desert aquifers through the mountains to Libya's rain-starved coastal plains, the project came under criticism from our State Department: "We're focused on both chemical (weapons) and reports that Libya might try to develop a nuclear capability." Although administration officials publicly declined to confirm intelligence reports, White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said: "We're prepared to believe the worst." (McClatchy News Service) Tim Llewellyn of BBC News found only irrigation construction in his 1986 visit to Libya.

In March, 1991, our government finally admitted training a rebel guerrilla force in Chad to invade Libya. This CIA plot bombed out when the exiles were caught before they even crossed the border. The New York Times in March, 1991, reported the 600 men were then transferred to Kenya. Later, Washington shipped them to a military base in Zaire, a country the Times noted "whose government has long facilitated covert activities of the CIA."

Collective punishment of a people to inflict political damage on a ruler Washington can't control is an egregious human rights offense which defies the Geneva Conventions and undermines the stated humanitarian objectives of the United Nations. The on-going U.S.-British led genocide in Iraq, the sanctions against Sudan and other so-called "terrorist nations" by our government are morally wrong, and serve only to identify the U.S. as a bully, while making a mockery of the U.S.-NATO "human rights" crusade in Kosovo.

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