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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Memo: Libya recruited brother of U.S. intel chief to help spruce up Gadhafi's image in U.S.

WASHINGTON — The Libyan opposition has released a confidential memorandum that described a campaign that included top academics and journalists to improve the image of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in the United States.   

Among those said to have been recruited for the campaign was the brother of then U.S. National Intelligence Director John Negroponte.

A memorandum by the Monitor Group, a consultant based in Cambridge, Mass., outlined a campaign to improve Libya's image in the United States. The document, obtained by the opposition Libyan National Conference, described the targeting of key Americans, including siblings of top administration officials, to serve in effect as lobbyists for the Gadhafi regime.

"Many of the visitors Monitor brought to Libya have individually briefed all levels of the United States government including specifically the president, vice president, heads of national security and intelligence as well as the secretary of state," the memo said.

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Libyan sources said the plan, obtained from opposition elements in Tripoli, was implemented and journalists from leading U.S. publications as well as academics were invited to Libya in 2008, Middle East Newsline reported. They said some of the subsequent stories, which reflected Tripoli's complaint over its relationship with the United States, were published in such newspapers as the New York Times and Washington Post.

In all, 12 people were flown to Libya from July 2006 through June 2007. They included former Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee chairman Richard Perle, historian Bernard Lewis, author Francis Fukayama as well as journalists Thomas Friedman and Fareed Zakaria.

"Each individual was recruited through Monitor's extensive international network," the memo said. "The Monitor team personally contacted individuals and encouraged them to visit Libya. To date only [American Policy Institute vice president] Danielle Pletka declined to visit Libya. All other individuals either agreed to a date or indicated their interest in collaborating as well as a potential visit in the future."

One of the Americans sent to Libya was identified as Nicholas Negroponte, brother of then-U.S. National Intelligence director John Negroponte and later deputy secretary of state. The memo said Nicholas, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, briefed his brother after returning from Libya.

"Nicholas Negroponte briefed his brother and other senior officials in the White House upon his return from Libya," the memo said.

The memo was addressed to Abdullah Al Sanusi, termed "the client." Al Sanusu has been identified as a senior Libyan intelligence officer wanted in connection with the bombing of the French airline UTA in 1989. Monitor requested $3.5 million per year for both retainer and expenses.

"We will provide operational support for publication of positive articles on Libya in these publications," a July 2006 memo by Monitor said. "For example: Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Economist, International Herald Tribune, Financial Times, Weekly Standard, National Interest, Public Interest, Foreign Affairs etc. We will identify and encourage journalists, academics and contemporary thinkers who will have interest in publishing papers and articles on Libya."

The memo said Libya sought Americans regarded as close to the then-Bush administration to visit Libya. The Libyans cited policy analyst Laurent Murawiec, former CIA director James Woolsey, human rights attorney Nina Shea, Middle East Forum director Daniel Pipes and Ms. Pletka, who had been considered for a senior State Department position in 2004.

Hafed Al Ghwell, a Libyan opposition figure who lives in Washington, said he met some of those recruited by Monitor to visit Libya. He said many of the American visitors were struck by what he termed the ignorance of Gadhafi and his determination to buy influence in the United States.

"All of them without exception thought Gadhafi was a lunatic," Al Ghwell said. "Gadhafi will continue to try to blackmail his way in Washington by saying he has not gotten anything worth much from the U.S. to damage the hopes that Iran and North Korea will follow the Libyan example. The Obama administration however needs to know that appeasing Gadhafi is a dangerous road to take."

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