Reagan's Propaganda Campaign Against Libya
March 19, 2011 9:02 PM   Subscribe

In the 80s, US intelligence services were claiming to have uncovered a host of un-American plots concocted by Gaddafi such as sending hit squads to kill Reagan and other members of the administration, launching terrorist targets in Europe and elsewhere , a plan to kidnap or execute the American ambassador to Italy, and a suicide mission against the USS Nimitz.

Then in 1986, Bernard Kalb stepped down as spokesman for the State Department after hearing of government plans to plant false stories about Gaddafi.
posted by destro (57 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
On the other hand.
posted by Artw at 9:07 PM on March 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I knew US Intelligence Forces did something right in the 1980s.
posted by koeselitz at 9:12 PM on March 19, 2011


(Also, for those reading, it's worth noting that the post draws a false equivalency. Gaddafi engaged in international terrorism in the 1980s. The fact that the State Department might have engaged in some propaganda doesn't change this salient point: Gaddafi's international terrorism was all too real.)
posted by koeselitz at 9:13 PM on March 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


So close. So close to finally getting that tiny giraffe on the treadmill, Muamar thought.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:16 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I should have included more content form the first link:
"The reports of Libyan assassins were never confirmed ...and no attempts were ever uncovered."
Also, these were events preceding Lockerbie and the bombing of the Libyan headquarters.
posted by destro at 9:16 PM on March 19, 2011


Libya certainly supplied the IRA, but then I guess the US isn't going to go after people for that.
posted by rodgerd at 9:18 PM on March 19, 2011 [16 favorites]


That the air conditioing in his crazy-ass tent is provided by minature giraffes on a gold plated treadmill is an utter lie spread by the west - it's actually dwarf zebras.
posted by Artw at 9:19 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man, next we'll find out that the cinematic depiction of the Libyan-sponsored attempted assassination of Emmett Lathrop Brown, PhD was nothing more than fiction.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:25 PM on March 19, 2011 [16 favorites]


Stunt-iest Post Ever.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:26 PM on March 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Most Stunt-Like, if you prefer. Still: gag.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:26 PM on March 19, 2011


Well, at least PJ Crowley resigned last week.
posted by grounded at 9:30 PM on March 19, 2011


When Iran-Contra was going public, there was a weird bit of news that came out about Oliver North and those working with him. The news didn't get much attention at the time but was definitely a harbinger of what would go down 15 years later with Iraq.

One of the things he was doing was trying to push the United States into a war with Libya under false pretenses and which would have the United States invade from bases set up in Egypt and fighting alongside the Egyptian Army. North apparently thought he could take advantage of the antipathy between Mubarak and Gaddafi.

The plan failed because of reluctance from Egypt and because Reagan apparently was content with occasionally bombing and shooting down Libyan planes but an actual invasion was way over the line.

So, a disinformation campaign in 1986, if it happened, would have been part of the plan.
posted by honestcoyote at 9:31 PM on March 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Libya certainly supplied the IRA, but then I guess the US isn't going to go after people for that.

Pete King (R-IRA) appreciates your candor, I am sure.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:31 PM on March 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yeah, about Peter King. I have thought about him a lot recently and have considered his statements carefully. After much deliberation, I have come to the reasoned position that Peter King can suck my balls.
posted by ob at 9:41 PM on March 19, 2011 [12 favorites]


Usually I love some historical perspective, but this post just muddies the discourse about what is happening in Libya today.
posted by ovvl at 9:54 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have come to the reasoned position that Peter King can suck my balls.

Unless your balls are somehow very repellent, I don't think that's much of a threat.

It should be more along of the things "He can't suck any balls, or anything else, ever."


I mean fuck you? fucking is nice. Should be Unfuck you. You get a fuck taken back. Erased.
posted by The Whelk at 9:55 PM on March 19, 2011 [12 favorites]


Good point, I'd never thought of that. However I am English, and that might appall him.
posted by ob at 10:09 PM on March 19, 2011


Peter King can suck my halal.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:19 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Victor Ostrovsky: How Mossad got America to bomb Libya and fight Iraq.

Yes it's hosted on a wacky site & yes it's also hosted on a lot of other wacky sites, from David Duke to David Icke. But as a recognized former Mossad case officer, Victor Ostrovsky has credibility that transcends all that. Anyway, give it a read, it's quite an eye-opening story.
posted by scalefree at 10:19 PM on March 19, 2011


That Geoffrey Simons book in the first link is looking like a fascinating (if upsetting) read. One little tidbit is just a few pages away from what was linked:
The American military actions against Libya served various purposes. Macho elements in the administration and the armed forces were temporarily mollified (Reagan himself had been known to pretend to draw imaginary six-guns when given the results of the latest confrontation); military procedures and weaponry were conveniently tested in real-world situations; the American public was shown America 'walking tall' (which gave a pre-election Bush a reason in 1991/92 for further confrontation with both Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi); and allies and client states of America were forced to concur with US policy, becoming 'locked in' to Washington's Third World policies.
Jeezus. There isn't a single thing in that entire statement that's comforting. It's clear that Gaddafi needed to be dealt with, but the thought that military strikes are partially motivated by appeasing the testosterone-fuelled desires of Reagan is particularly galling. So is the thought that the real-world testing of weapons is considered a big enough need to warrant attacks that have civilian collateral damage (i.e., kill innocents along with the bad guys). Something something watching sausages being made.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 10:20 PM on March 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Metafilter: Yes, it's hosted on a wacky site & yes it's also hosted on a lot of other wacky sites, from David Duke to David Icke.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:20 PM on March 19, 2011


He's ruled that country for decades, and he's only a colonel? You'd think he'd get a promotion by now.
posted by crapmatic at 10:22 PM on March 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


Scalefree wrote: Victor Ostrovsky: How Mossad got America to bomb Libya and fight Iraq. Yes it's hosted on a wacky site [...]

Wacky site? "Freemasonry Watch"? That's like calling the Ku Klux Klan a conservative think-tank. You've linked to a group of stone-cold raving, hateful nutters. Here's a bit from the bottom of the page you linked to:
Send us in confidence details of cases where you think
Organized Freemasonry has personally hurt yourself,
family, friends, aquaintances, or community. We would
also appreciate any additional background information,
links, and references on Freemasonry and the Occult.
Help us take a bite out of Freemasonry.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:46 PM on March 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Frank Terpil & Edwin Wilson * set up terrorist training and bomb making facilities in Libya , at the time "soviet sponsored terrorism" was the cold war buzz.
posted by hortense at 10:49 PM on March 19, 2011


One of the things he was doing was trying to push the United States into a war with Libya under false pretenses and which would have the United States invade from bases set up in Egypt and fighting alongside the Egyptian Army. North apparently thought he could take advantage of the antipathy between Mubarak and Gaddafi.

The plan failed because of reluctance from Egypt and because Reagan apparently was content with occasionally bombing and shooting down Libyan planes but an actual invasion was way over the line.


Personally, this whole account sounds like a disinformation campaign to get Gaddafi to think that the US was planning an invasion with the help of Egypt. You can get more strategic mileage out of such a thing than you might think. In a cold war, as much as a hot one, strategic ambiguity is a great advantage.

I don't see that North would have any ability to "push" us in this direction, let alone a personal interest in doing so. He was a loyal soldier, loyal to a version of the US ideology (a robust Monroe Doctrine, frex) that precluded making actual strategic decisions. He would have been more than happy to implement such, but that sort of thing, despite his position, was above his pay grade, probably several degrees even in the dotted-line-org-chart of his office.
posted by dhartung at 11:46 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


You mean Hulk Hogan ripped his picture in half for no good reason!?
posted by Senor Cardgage at 12:03 AM on March 20, 2011


Don't try that Masonic logic on us, Joe in Australia. I'm sure it's just a coincidence that Australia is located 33 degrees south of the Equator. It doesn't take an ace symbologist to tell us what that means. Don't forget, Chuck D warned us about War at 33 1/3 On Fear of a Black Planet, which also featured Welcome to the Terrordome, which is obviously a Gaddafi reference.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 12:13 AM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does anyone have any tips on how to get into Bilderberg/NWO/Freemasonry? I don't mean to infiltrate them, I actually like their work and am keen to join up. The Grand Lodge in Covent Garden is a lovely building.
posted by Damienmce at 6:34 AM on March 20, 2011


Maybe once Gadaffi is overthrown we'll finally get to see who really ordered the Pan Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie.

While Gadaffi is certainly not an implausible suspect, the focus of the investigation was initially on Syria; it shifted onto Libya only after it became politically inexpedient to whack on Assad's regime -- at a point when Libya was the designated goat for US middle eastern policy. Meanwhile, there are persistent rumours that Pan Am 103 was a tit-for-tat revenge attack for Iran Air 655, ordered by Ayatolla Khomenei and carried out by Lebanese Hezbollah proxies. Also, South African defense minister (during Apartheid, remember) Pik Botha was booked onto Pan Am 103 but changed his reservation a couple of hours before take-off. Which leaves me curious as to why Nelson Mandella has been so persistent about offering his services as an intermediary in investigations of Flight 103.

Finally we get to the Al-Megrahi trial, where the chain of evidence connecting Al-Megrahi to the fragments of the bomb relied heavily on a witness testifying to recognize him -- a Maltese shopkeeper who apparently trousered a $3M pay-off from a US government agency then emigrated to New Zealand under an assumed identity. Which, if nothing else, is enough to convince a whole bunch of us over here that the Scottish judicial system was duped by planted evidence intended to provide a convenient scapegoat (sparing embarrassment to the US government).

The story of the Lockerbie bombing is nearly as murky as the assassination of John F. Kennedy: too many plausible suspects, too many investigators with axes to grind.
posted by cstross at 7:03 AM on March 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


He's ruled that country for decades, and he's only a colonel? You'd think he'd get a promotion by now.

That just proves he's not in it for selfish reasons. He's just working hard for the people.

What is interesting is that Gaddafi was legitimately doing bad stuff in the 80's and early 90's. Then he settled down and was almost an ally for 10-15 years. Now he is nuts again. Did he change, did we change, or did we get sidetracked by other things that made him seem less of a nut?
posted by gjc at 7:04 AM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


gjc: he's not a nut, he's just an extremely ruthless revolutionary zealot who likes to ham it up and has a taste for the theatrical. Whether it's sending death squads to murder enemies overseas, hanging dissidents in front of audiences of primary school children as an example, or machine-gunning policewomen in central London, you'll know him by his tactics.

The only reason he was "almost an ally for 10-15 years" is because oil money talks: bullshit walks. The thing about Gadaffi is you don't need to make up bad stuff about him. He's still a nasty piece of work, and I won't be shedding any tears if he ends up dangling from a lamp-post before this is all over (although I think he was probably framed over Pan Am 103).
posted by cstross at 7:09 AM on March 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


The story of the Lockerbie bombing is nearly as murky as the assassination of John F. Kennedy: too many plausible suspects, too many investigators with axes to grind.

Huh. When you combine that with my previous comment, one starts to wonder if the current troubles in Libya weren't started when that Lockerbie guy was released from Scotland on humanitarian grounds. It's almost like some string-pulling nut(s) decided to show Gaddafi who is boss by starting a revolution against him.

Not any government doing it, but some Ollie North / Charlie Wilson / Gen. Jack D. Ripper type, who finds a thread and tugs, lighting a fuse nobody can stop.
posted by gjc at 7:13 AM on March 20, 2011


cstross: Just for clarification, I'm not defending him at all. Just that because he is a ruthless dictator, he, like Saddam Hussein, is a useful idiot in various people's little world domination games.
posted by gjc at 7:15 AM on March 20, 2011


it's worth noting that the post draws a false equivalency. Gaddafi engaged in international terrorism in the 1980s. The fact that the State Department might have engaged in some propaganda doesn't change this salient point: Gaddafi's international terrorism was all too real

On the other hand, the US was committing massive acts of terrorism in Nicaragua during the same period, which killed tens of thousands of people - vastly more than anything ever done by Gaddafi. Further, the US was taken to the World Court by Nicaragua and found guilty of the "illegal use of force." Which means that the US is the only country to have been convicted of state-sponsored terrorism (unless you argue that what the US did in Nicaragua actually counts as aggression).
posted by williampratt at 7:24 AM on March 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


tin foil gold. my fav story is Col. G slicing his forehead when youn. or the story he slipped Nasser poison.
posted by clavdivs at 7:58 AM on March 20, 2011


@williampratt - yes, nothing in the links says that Libya wasn't supporting terrorism, but more that he was doing it on a minor scale and that the Reagan administration took the opportunity to make him into a huge threat from there.

The post made no false equivalency about Libya being involved in terrorism. It was solely about the Reagan administration's involvement in propaganda against Libya. I was tempted to put more references in about the La Belle nightclub, and how the evidence linking that to Libya was too shoddy to justify the bombing of Libyan headquarters, killing 100 and Gaddafi's daughter Hannah. But that seemed irrelevant to the post.

Lockerbie, on the other hand, seems like an open and shut case.
posted by destro at 8:31 AM on March 20, 2011


War on Gaddafi is personal – and he is unlikely to retreat: Capturing or killing the Libyan leader has now become an end in itself for the western allies
posted by homunculus at 9:20 AM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


The world press would just like to say a big thanks to the western powers for waiting that extra week to start some shit in Libya, so that the ensuing carnage will displace even Japan from page 1.

To think that they could have probably bribed the guy out just two short weeks ago - what a waste that would have been. Not even page-3-worthy.
posted by Artful Codger at 10:07 AM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I knew US Intelligence Forces did something right in the 1980s.

Lying is "right" then eh?

Wacky site?

Could be 'wacky' - but when you are making square corners you can find that the angle of the square is on the level. The statement attributed to Victor Ostrovsky may actually be by Victor Ostrovsky and may be what he thinks. The statements may also be 100% truth.

Each person has to decide if it could be true and if they are comfortable with such a truth. Some people are VERY comfortable with policy based on lie and manipulation.

Others, not so much.

The only reason he was "almost an ally for 10-15 years" is because oil money talks: bullshit walks.

Which becomes another 'are you comfortable with this' gut check followed by 'what'ja gonna do' gut check.

Does anyone have any tips on how to get into Bilderberg/NWO/Freemasonry?

Rich-right family/rich-right family/have penis-not be a felon-over 18-find a Mason and ask how to become one

I actually like their work and am keen to join up.

Visit the Grand Arch Druid or perhaps Wisconsin's J.B. Van Hollen and ask about signing up.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:58 AM on March 20, 2011


Could be 'wacky' - but when you are making square corners you can find that the angle of the square is on the level. The statement attributed to Victor Ostrovsky may actually be by Victor Ostrovsky and may be what he thinks. The statements may also be 100% truth.

It's a chapter from his NYT best selling autobiographical book By Way of Deception: The Making and Unmaking of a Mossad Officer. So it's pretty clearly by him. I can't help that it's mostly conspiracy theorists who quote him. As for whether they're true, I too leave that to the reader.
posted by scalefree at 11:15 AM on March 20, 2011


me: “I knew US Intelligence Forces did something right in the 1980s.”

rough ashlar: “Lying is "right" then eh?”

Lots of lies are unjust. Heck, lots of lies that the US government tells are unjust. Most of them, even.

But a lie that gets Gaddafi killed is a lie worth telling, frankly.
posted by koeselitz at 12:28 PM on March 20, 2011


But a lie that gets Gaddafi killed is a lie worth telling, frankly.

Replace Gaddafi by any other leader and you will appreciate how awful that statement is.
posted by bobbyelliott at 1:06 PM on March 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


In the lucky event of Gaddafi getting strung from a lamp post I suspect the things he has actually done will be quite sufficient justification.
posted by Artw at 1:11 PM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Using a lie to kill a guilty man says something about the killer. It says he puts himself above the law. We need to put ourselves back on the track of being a nation of laws not men, otherwise the next time a lie is used to kill a man, he may well be innocent.
posted by scalefree at 1:16 PM on March 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Help us take a bite out of Freemasonry.

When did McGruff the Crime Dog become a 19th century Knight of Columbus?
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 1:18 PM on March 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


bobbyelliott: “Replace Gaddafi by any other leader and you will appreciate how awful that statement is.”

What? That doesn't make any sense. It sounds like you're saying that because he's a "leader" he should be left to continue his ridiculous shit.

My original argument doesn't really stand, but that's only because they didn't succeed in actually killing him. But if a lie to the public was necessary to do that, I wouldn't mind it. Lying is not against the law.

scalefree: “Using a lie to kill a guilty man says something about the killer. It says he puts himself above the law. We need to put ourselves back on the track of being a nation of laws not men, otherwise the next time a lie is used to kill a man, he may well be innocent.”

Frankly, this is getting a bit too abstract to make sense. I can't really blame anybody but myself for that, I guess, since I was the one who started on this whole "kill a man with a lie" stuff.

Either way, my conclusion is this: the US Government told lots of lies, and lots of people got killed subsequently, in the 1980s. I don't like that very much. But if Gaddafi had been one of those people, I would not have lost any sleep whatsoever. If people are going to die needlessly, one of them may as well be a violent megalomaniac responsible for the deaths of innocent thousands.
posted by koeselitz at 1:32 PM on March 20, 2011


But a lie that gets Gaddafi killed is a lie worth telling, frankly.

Where have I heard this before? Oh yeah.

But a lie that gets Gaddafi Saddam killed is a lie worth telling, frankly.

Hmmm, doesn't sound as good now.
posted by formless at 1:45 PM on March 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Gaddafi engaged in international terrorism in the 1980s."

On the other hand, the US hand in the death of Allende and support of Pinochet, and support of Contras against the Sandanistas was freedom fighting.

History is written by the victor. So is the definition of terrorism.
posted by Twang at 1:57 PM on March 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


For some reason all I can think about when I hear "Gaddafi" is an old Lewis Grizzard story about the 2 reasons he is/was the way he is is because 1) He's named Muammar and is pissed off about it, and 2) He runs around the desert in shorts, and as anyone who has ever been to the beach can attest, he HAS to have "sand in his underdrawers."

Relevant? No...just passing through...nothing to see here.
posted by rhythim at 2:18 PM on March 20, 2011


Maybe once Gadaffi is overthrown we'll finally get to see who really ordered the Pan Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie.

Like Saddam Hussein, he'll get hung before he can embarrass any American and European politicians with secrets the public shouldn't hear. Anyway, gas is $4 a gallon and climbing, so who cares about who did what, what with the CIA and 1980s drug running needed to fight the communists being old news?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:24 PM on March 20, 2011


What is interesting is that Gaddafi was legitimately doing bad stuff in the 80's and early 90's. Then he settled down and was almost an ally for 10-15 years. Now he is nuts again. Did he change, did we change, or did we get sidetracked by other things that made him seem less of a nut?

Libya was, under the monarchy, a joint British-French ally {in this period the US was less directly involved in the Middle East, and was not yet a strong backer of Israel}. After the coup western nations began to pull back from supplying Libya, and by the 1980s they had all but signed a treaty of mutual defense with the USSR. After the fall of the Soviet Union, combined with the Lockerbie trial and the US strike on Tripoli, Libya pulled back its role as a backer of terrorist groups and concentrated on building trade relationships e.g. with its old ally Italy. During this period, as well, with Libya's enemy Egypt ascendant in the Arab League, Gaddafi sought to enhance his role with the Organization for African Unity, and in fact his concept of an EU-like African Union was embraced by that organization, giving him a diplomatic legacy. But after a short stint as AU president, he was ousted last year, setting an interesting stage for his current predicament.
posted by dhartung at 4:07 PM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


What? That doesn't make any sense. It sounds like you're saying that because he's a "leader" he should be left to continue his ridiculous shit.

Because there is no middle ground between being allowed to continue ridiculous shit and execution.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 5:26 PM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was tempted to put more references in about the La Belle nightclub, and how the evidence linking that to Libya was too shoddy to justify the bombing of Libyan headquarters, killing 100 and Gaddafi's daughter Hannah. But that seemed irrelevant to the post.

That would be the daughter that nobody knew Gaddafi had until after she was dead, right?

I'll say this much about the current unrest: at least the Western media seems to have more or less settled on a consistent spelling for Gaddafi's name.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:39 AM on March 21, 2011


History is written by the victor. So is the definition of terrorism.
posted by Twang

Viva Ortega!
posted by clavdivs at 10:12 AM on March 21, 2011


I was tempted to put more references in about the La Belle nightclub, and how the evidence linking that to Libya was too shoddy to justify the bombing of Libyan headquarters, killing 100 and Gaddafi's daughter Hannah. But that seemed irrelevant to the post.

This is the incident that Ostrovsky talks about in his book in my link above. He was part of a Mossad team that went to Tripoli to create a false trail pointing to Qaddafi, which led to the US bombing his compound in revenge. Curiously, France refused flyover rights to the US planes on their way to Libya; presumably they had intelligence pointing to Mossad's trick & wanted no part of the operation.
posted by scalefree at 3:18 PM on March 21, 2011


Scalefree, there's probably a reason why your links all go to crank websites. Take a look at Victor Ostrovsky's Wikipedia page. The first thing I note is that the original version was apparently written by Ostrovsky himself. Most of the material he supplied remains in the current one. Three biographical references are cited: one to his page at Amazon.com - which he apparently wrote himself; one to a New York Times article that says he was a Mossad trainee for 14 months and that his account has lots of holes in it; one to an article by Benny Morris that says Ostrovsky was barely an operational case officer before he was fired; most of his (brief) time on the Mossad was spent as a trainee. Morris also says that Ostrovsky lied about his rank in the IDF, something which should be easy to check.

Tl;dr version: Ostrovsky is a liar; he's cited by cranks because he writes crank-fodder; it's kind of weird that you keep bringing him up.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:27 PM on March 21, 2011


If you read his second book, The Other Side of Deception: A Rogue Agent Exposes the Mossad's Secret Agenda, he addresses exactly the point of Mossad's "sheep-dipping" of his record to discredit him (they are the Mossad after all; deception is their lifeblood), and provides supporting documents to bolster his claims & refute his detractors. His prominence among cranks is largely because Jews are a common target of conspiracists; anyone who provides evidence against Israel is welcomed with open arms whether he wants to be associated with them or not. I've studied the subject & find him credible & his claims stand the test of time. I'm just providing my perspective so people have the information available if they decide it's worth incorporating into the picture.

Just to show I can discriminate between sources even when they agree with me, I'll name one author on the subject whose body of work I completely reject: Gordon Thomas. He's written a number of expose books on the Mossad. I've found him to be completely unreliable on technical matters, consistently using hyperbole to sell his analyses & frequently too credulous of sources that fit with his worldview. Anyway, believe what you want.
posted by scalefree at 6:22 PM on March 21, 2011


« Older America's greatest president... Buddy Knox. (SLYT)...  |  The Légion Étrangère is a Fren... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments