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Libya and Mainstream Pundits, Part 2


Last Friday, I commented about how mainstream journalists seem to live in a universe in which they view the U.S. government as a glorious, saintly entity that roams the world helping the poor and oppressed, as exemplified most recently by the U.S. intervention in Libya. I pointed to a column last week byNew York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof that praised the U.S. intervention in Libya. The title of the column was “Thank You, America!

I compared Kristof’s commentary with a commentary by former Human Rights Watch attorney Joanne Mariner, which focused on the CIA’s partnership with Libya’s dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, to torture people on behalf of the U.S. government.

It’s as if we live in two simultaneous universes. The mainstream pundits live in the universe in which the U.S. government is perceived as a saintly organization that makes great sacrifices for the benefit of the world — bringing people food, helping them in earthquakes, tsunamis, and other emergencies, and freeing them from dictatorships.

The other universe — the one in which the U.S. government is sending billions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer money to dictators, entering into torture-partnerships with dictators, torturing people, invading and occupying countries, waging undeclared wars of aggression — is ignored because, as an alternative universe, it’s simply irrelevant.

Well, you’ll never believe what happened. On Saturday, Kristof’s newspaper, the New York Times, carried a front-page article detailing the torture partnership between the CIA (which is a core agency within the U.S. government) and Gaddafi.

Talk about being mugged by reality!

Why was this suddenly news? Because attorneys for Human Rights Watch in Libya beat the CIA to Gaddafi’s secret files. Among the files the attorneys uncovered was one on the CIA rendition-torture partnership between the CIA and Gaddafi.

According to the Times, the secret files reveal “that the cooperation was much more extensive than generally known with both the C.I.A. and its British equivalent, MI-6.” In fact — get this — the British spy agency even helped the tyrant Gaddafi spy on his own people, tracing phone numbers for him.

It gets better. The CIA actually was drafting speeches for Gaddafi. Here’s a one-page speech that the CIA drafted for the tyrant around Christmastime in 2003:

At a time when the world is celebrating the birth of Jesus, and as a token of our contributions towards a world full of peace, security, stability and compassion, the Great Jamhariya presents its honest call for a W.M.D.-free zone in the Middle East,” referring to weapons of mass destruction.

The “Great Jamhariya” was the name for Gaddafi’s revolutionary regime.

When Libyans requested that a certain suspect be renditioned to them, the CIA responded that “we are committed to developing this relationship for the benefit of both our services” and promised to do its best to find the guy.

Reality check: The CIA is the U.S. government. When the CIA does things, the U.S. government — our government — is doing them. They are not two separate and distinct universes.

What was the CIA’s response to the disclosures? Reflecting the deep moral debauchery into which the U.S. government has plunged our nation, especially since 9/11, CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood commented, “It can’t come as a surprise that the Central Intelligence Agency works with foreign governments to help protect our country from terrorism and other deadly threats.”

Ms. Youngblood, with all due respect, while this news certainly doesn’t surprise us libertarians, take my word for it: It undoubtedly comes as a horrible shock to many Americans, including mainstream journalists, who simply cannot bring themselves to confront the fact that their government does these sorts of things.

After reading that article on Saturday, which has now spread to newspapers all over the world and all over the Internet, I asked myself: What does Kristof do now? This is the newspaper he writes for, and it’s on the front page. How can he just ignore the reality of the U.S. government’s torture relationship with this cruel and brutal dictator? Would he now confront the reality of U.S. foreign policy? Would he now use his column in the New York Times to call for a full investigation into the U.S. government’s torture relationship with Gaddafi? After all, the Britsh government has just announced that it will conduct a formal investigation into the matter.

It didn’t take long for my questions to be answered. On Sunday, Kristof published a new article entitled, “The Fuller Story from Libya.” I thought to myself, “Yeah! Here it is! The fuller story! The other side of the story! The U.S. government’s torture partnership with the dictator that it has now ousted from power — and possibly a call for a full congressional investigation into the matter.

Alas, it was not to be. Not one single mention of the CIA’s torture partnership with Gaddafi. Not one. Kristoff’s “fuller story” involved more examples of heroic resistance against the tyrant.

But I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. The U.S. government’s support of heroic resistance to tyrants is in one universe. The U.S. government partnership’s with such tyrants is in another.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.