President Obama promised the American public that there would be no U.S. “boots on the ground” in Libya.
Well, maybe CIA operatives don’t wear boots. Or maybe all those CIA boots tracking up the Libyan dunes belong to foreign mercenaries, hired by our spooks so that they don’t get any sand in their own boots.
In any case, the CIA is in Libya now, and has been there for some time. According to CNN:
CIA operatives have been in Libya working with rebel leaders to try to reverse gains by loyalist forces, a U.S. intelligence source said.
A U.S. intelligence source said the CIA is operating in the country to help increase U.S. “military and political understanding” of the situation.
A former counterterrorism official with knowledge of U.S. Libya policy said there is a presidential finding authorizing the CIA to conduct operations in support of U.S. policy in Libya, including assessing the opposition and determining their needs.
Specific activities by CIA officers will be determined by conditions on the ground and would need further approval from the White House, the source said.
A former senior intelligence official said officers “might be advising [rebels] on how to target the adversary, how to use the weapons they have, reconnaissance and counter-surveillance.”
Presidential findings are a type of secret order authorizing some covert intelligence operations.
The CIA has had a presence in Libya for some time, a U.S. official told CNN earlier this month. “The intelligence community is aggressively pursuing information on the ground,” the official said. The CIA sent additional personnel to Libya to augment officers on the ground after the anti-government protests erupted, the official said, without giving details.
CIA officers assisted with the rescue of one of two U.S. airmen whose fighter jet crashed in Libya on March 21, a knowledgeable U.S. source said.
Accompanying the above article was a video of a very interesting interview with a former CIA employee who knows the agency and has experience with Libya. The most significant exchange was this one:
Q: Do they really know who they’re dealing with here?
A: They don’t have a clue… [the rebels] are as likely to attack the CIA as Qaddafi.
To avoid the “Blogger bug”, the video is embedded below the jump. Many thanks to Vlad Tepes for YouTubing this clip:
Hat tip: Paul Green.