Unthinking CIA Tool?

With everything else going on in the world, particularly in the financial realm, the ongoing situation in Libya might have escaped your notice. There’s good news there, though: the tide seems to have turned. It’s no longer a matter of stalemate between the National Transitional Council’s forces and those still loyal to Muamman Qaddafi, but rather of a steady advance by the former on Qaddafi’s capital of Tripoli, and elsewhere. The German newsmagazine Focus (Gaddafi just about to jump) is among those publications bringing us these good tidings, including a quote from one of US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s recent speeches, “I think we can agree that Gaddafi’s days are numbered.” (You say “Gaddafi,” I say “Qaddafi.”)

My problem, though, is with something in their lede: “He is said to have concrete plans for an escape to Tunisia.”

Think about it just a little: what sort of sense does that make? Tunisia – the next door country! And one that had it’s own successful revolution, during which the revolutionaries on more than one occasion expressed their frustration that they were fighting not only against the ruling regime, but also against its supporter and bankroller over the border in Tripoli!

No, although it does seem that Qaddafi is destined sooner or later for that classic “dustbin of history,” the alleged imminent flight to Tunisia does not add up. What’s more, your favorite Middle East expert and mine, Prof. Juan Cole of the University of Michigan, has this post just out laying out in detail just how ridiculous the whole Tunisia idea is, and further speculating that what that really is, is something “from US intelligence for psy-ops purposes,” i.e. a fake story whose real purpose is to try to draw further defections from Qaddafi’s inner circle.

Now, it was NBC that was the recipient of this “scoop” originally, and indeed the Focus article does give credit – but then repeats that report. I can understand a US television network passing on questionable information from American intelligence sources hook, line & sinker, but what is the problem with Focus? What happened to those days past when anything coming to Germany from the intelligence services of the “American imperialists” was automatically suspect?

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