NATO commander: Hey, let’s take a closer look at the rebels

posted at 12:15 pm on March 29, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Better late than never?  Eleven days after the West started bombing Libya’s armed forces, the man who will take charge of the effort at NATO says that the US has detected “flickers” of al-Qaeda involvement in the rebel forces assisted by the bombing campaign.   NATO will now perform some “due diligence” to ensure that we’re not helping our terrorist enemies capture an entire, oil-producing nation:

Admiral James Stavridis, commander of NATO and overall chief of U.S. and coalition forces in the Libyan war, says American intelligence agents are “examining very closely” the rebel forces for whom U.S. forces have gone to war.  So far, Stavridis says, the U.S. has discovered “flickers” of the presence of al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, although Stavridis calls the opposition leadership “responsible.”

Appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Stavridis was asked by Republican Sen. James Inhofe to comment on “reports about the presence of al Qaeda among the rebels, among those with whom we are associated.” “As you can imagine, we are examining very closely the content, composition, the personalities, who are the leaders in these opposition forces,” Stavridis responded.  “The intelligence that I am receiving at this point makes me feel that the leadership I am seeing are responsible men and women who are struggling against Colonel Gadhafi.  We have seen flickers in the intelligence of potential al Qaeda, Hezbollah, we’ve seen different things, but at this point I don’t have detail sufficient to say that there is a significant al Qaeda presence or any other terrorist presence in and among these folks.  We’ll continue to look at that very closely.  It’s part of doing due diligence as we move forward on any kind of relationship.

A “flicker”?  It’s been four days since the Italian newspaper Il Sole de 24 Ore reported on the background of one rebel leader in western Libya, Abdul Hakim al Hasadi.  US forces captured Hasadi in 2002 while fighting in Afghanistan for the Taliban, and eventually turned him over to Gaddafi.  Hasadi won his release in 2008 thanks to a deal cut between Gaddafi and an alliance of Islamist terror groups.  If that’s a “flicker,” then Waziristan must be just a 40-watt bulb of terrorism.

The administration now says it’s trying to fill the gaps on intelligence:

At Monday’s Pentagon briefing, Fox News reporter Jennifer Griffin asked another top official, Vice Admiral Bill Gortney, a very simple question: “Do you know who the opposition is, and does it matter to you?”  “We’re not talking with the opposition,” Gortney responded.  “We have — we would like a much better understanding of the opposition.  We don’t have it.  So yes, it does matter to us, and we’re trying to fill in those gaps, knowledge gaps.”  Gortney’s answer was another suggestion that the U.S. is doing critical due diligence on the fly in Libya.

Shouldn’t those gaps have been filled before deciding to stage an intervention that benefited the rebels?  After all, those bombing runs against Gaddafi’s armored divisions aren’t just protecting civilians in Benghazi.  Instead of vetting rebels to ensure we’re not enabling AQ terrorism, the White House seems to be moving full steam ahead to arm them:

The US government has not ruled out arming Libyan rebels to help them topple Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the country’s ambassador to the United Nations said, as ministers from more than 40 countries gathered in London for a conference aimed at preventing the conflict sliding into a humanitarian disaster.

In an interview with ABC television, Susan Rice said: “We have not made that decision, but we’ve not certainly ruled that out.”

Rice also said there was no indication Gaddafi was prepared to leave power without continued pressure from the international community. Referring to reports that members of Gaddafi’s inner circle are reaching out to the west, she said: “We will be more persuaded by actions rather than prospects or feelers.”

US officials have previously said Washington could potentially arm the rebels, but it remains unclear how this would be done, as it is illegal under the terms of the UN arms embargo on the country.

Will that happen before we determine whether they’re AQ, allied with AQ and/or the Taliban, warlord militias, or other potential threats to our own national security?


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but,but,but,said they are democracy seeking, American loving Libyan Patriots. (Except for the Muslim brotherhood and Al Queda coordinating with them)

portlandon on March 29, 2011 at 12:18 PM

jus cuz

We are, um, starting to, um, begin the process of compiling the proper committees to begin, um, the process of consideration of possibly examining the rebel elements in Libya.

blatantblue on March 29, 2011 at 12:18 PM

Smart Power.

Mike Honcho on March 29, 2011 at 12:18 PM

I wonder if Samantha Power or someone else from the Administration has called him to correct him yet?

kingsjester on March 29, 2011 at 12:20 PM

He must have received a “D” in “Know the Enemy 101″ at War College…

PatriotRider on March 29, 2011 at 12:20 PM

Of course, having gone in with guns blazing, we can’t just walk away saying “no tag backs!”

Best case now is to quickly get G’daffy and get out. Once the mercenaries have nobody left who can sign checks, they’ll bug out, and then the thing will devolve into a tribal soup.

cthulhu on March 29, 2011 at 12:20 PM

Maybe they DID do due diligence, ya ever think of that!

DrM2B on March 29, 2011 at 12:21 PM

In other news, the horse is still at large but they’ve gone ahead and closed that pesky barn door.

teke184 on March 29, 2011 at 12:21 PM

Another Ready! Fire! (get someone else to) Aim! moment from the Osama Obama regime.

Once again, if any other president had acted the way the Mohammedan Mouthpiece does, impeachment resolutions would be overflowing the House’s in-box.

I guess he really is “unprecedented” and “special.”

We’re so screwed lucky.

MrScribbler on March 29, 2011 at 12:21 PM

Instead of vetting rebels to ensure we’re not enabling AQ terrorism, the White House seems to be moving full steam ahead to arm them

Soooooo….when do the marches against American aggression, imperialism, and war mongering begin? I’d like to get a good seat to watch the festivities and see the giant paper-mache heads.

Bishop on March 29, 2011 at 12:22 PM

General Patton would have a problem with all of this…

PatriotRider on March 29, 2011 at 12:22 PM

This is so backward.
What we should be doing is offering assistance in exchange for tangible progress toward a constitutional government.

Count to 10 on March 29, 2011 at 12:22 PM

Another one of Odaffi’s generals…

PatriotRider on March 29, 2011 at 12:23 PM

Whatever you do be sure to get the unanimous approval of all 28 NATO nations…

mjbrooks3 on March 29, 2011 at 12:24 PM

I’m waiting till the first rebel massacre of proGaddafi civilians or captured mercenaries occurs. Can the MSM keep a lid on it?

a capella on March 29, 2011 at 12:24 PM

If that’s a “flicker,” then Waziristan must be just a 40-watt bulb of terrorism.

And we have a 25 watt president.

rbj on March 29, 2011 at 12:25 PM

Bishop on March 29, 2011 at 12:22 PM

When those are missing you know we have been volunteered for the wrong side….

journeyintothewhirlwind on March 29, 2011 at 12:28 PM

That was a hell of a plan: First, start supporting one side in a c1vil war; and THEN start trying to figure out what cause it is that you’re killing people for.

logis on March 29, 2011 at 12:28 PM

Obama: Please! Do I have to do everything myself?!

cartooner on March 29, 2011 at 12:29 PM

General Patton would have a problem with all of this…

PatriotRider on March 29, 2011 at 12:22 PM

Considering he fought in what is now Quadaffy’s back yard, he would probably be a pretty good authority on the region. He would definitely have a problem with TLAM strikes – I don’t think he was much for weapons that allowed you to blow someone up you couldn’t see. But mostly I suspect his two courses of action would be:

1) stay the hell out

2) send 500 tanks after Quadaffy and then blow up the rebels if they showed any sign of being terrorist-sympathizers. Then leave with this message, “Don’t me come back here.”

fiatboomer on March 29, 2011 at 12:30 PM

SNAFUBAR

ladyingray on March 29, 2011 at 12:31 PM

“Shouldn’t those gaps have been filled before deciding to stage an intervention that benefited the rebels?”

Obowma is making this up as he goes along…

… cut the brother some slack.

/

Seven Percent Solution on March 29, 2011 at 12:31 PM

I’m waiting till the first rebel massacre of proGaddafi civilians or captured mercenaries occurs. Can the MSM keep a lid on it?

a capella on March 29, 2011 at 12:24 PM

They’ll do everything they can to prevent the American public from hearing about it.

Barry may not have an identifiable goal in Libya, but the MSM here are very clear about their goal: protect Barry’s “historic” presidency (and re-election chances) by any and all means.

AZCoyote on March 29, 2011 at 12:33 PM

Wait a tick… Obama might just be a genius. Turn a complete squashing of the rebellion into a long and bloody civil war, thus cutting down the number of Islamists in the world one rebel/Daffy force battle at a time.

But only if we remove ourselves once a stalemate has been established, of course.

Aquateen Hungerforce on March 29, 2011 at 12:34 PM

It would be easier to believe an international coalition is really in charge if Scooter hadn’t used the first person “I” so many times last night.
Wear it, baby!

a capella on March 29, 2011 at 12:35 PM

“flickers” of the presence of al Qaeda and other terrorist groups

Phew! For a minute there I though the was going to say a spark.

MNHawk on March 29, 2011 at 12:36 PM

The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Or maybe not.

“We’re not talking with the opposition,” Gortney responded. “We have — we would like a much better understanding of the opposition. We don’t have it. So yes, it does matter to us, and we’re trying to fill in those gaps, knowledge gaps.”

We’re fighting for people we haven’t TALKED to yet?

Maybe we don’t need “boots” on the ground, but “ears” on the ground. Hey, guys, what’cha fightin’ for? The 12th Imam? Gee, we’ll have to think real carefully about this…

Steve Z on March 29, 2011 at 12:44 PM

Spot on azcoyote

cmsinaz on March 29, 2011 at 12:45 PM

It’s a squirmish…..

idesign on March 29, 2011 at 12:45 PM

Rape victim has criminal charges filed against her. I assume the rebels also operate under sharia, no?
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/29/iman-al-obedi-libya-rape-claim-charges

a capella on March 29, 2011 at 12:48 PM

One group’s “flicker” is another (smarter) group’s neon sign.

Lily on March 29, 2011 at 12:49 PM

So if it is AQ is Obama guilty of aiding and abetting the enemy of America?

lakeman on March 29, 2011 at 12:51 PM

Unexpectedly we’re backing terrorists and murders. One wonders what will happen to global civil aviation when the supply of shoulder fired surface to air missiles being captured by the “rebels” starts to show up at an airport near you.

Mason on March 29, 2011 at 12:52 PM

Wait a second. al-Libi doesn’t mean “the Liberal?” /

Christien on March 29, 2011 at 12:52 PM

So if it is AQ is Obama guilty of aiding and abetting the enemy of America?

lakeman on March 29, 2011 at 12:51 PM

Y’mean like Manning? Does get complicated, doesn’t it?

a capella on March 29, 2011 at 12:54 PM

Just tell the ATF that they’re to prevent US weapons from getting smuggled to the rebels. The rebels would be armed to the teeth within days.

Hollowpoint on March 29, 2011 at 12:56 PM

This frickin smart power is going to get a lot of people killed.

Thumbs up, Obutthead. Oh wait. That’s my middle finger.

capejasmine on March 29, 2011 at 12:59 PM

The WH speaks of arming the rebels like it was a renegade gun dealer dumping a load of Winchesters in a Sioux village.These guys know how to use an AK or an RPG. but they’re getting their ass kicked by heavy weapons and armor.Weaponry to counteract Qadaffi’s superiority would require intensive training. Who would do that and is there time to do it.I’m sure Obama’s thought this out.

xkaydet65 on March 29, 2011 at 12:59 PM

Kinetic!

Del Dolemonte on March 29, 2011 at 1:00 PM

Due diligence is probably a good idea when you embrace Muslim “freedom” fighters. Hey, it would be a good thing to do due diligence on the Muslim enemy as well sometime when you can get around to it. (if it wouldn’t embarrass the Saudis)

BL@KBIRD on March 29, 2011 at 1:02 PM

BBC: Thumbnail sketch of some members of the transitional Council.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12698562

a capella on March 29, 2011 at 1:04 PM

Does anyone doubt that little Bammie is so stupid that he really thinks if he helps out al Qaeda, that they will give him something of benefit to our country in return?

slickwillie2001 on March 29, 2011 at 1:10 PM

I’m waiting till the first rebel massacre of proGaddafi civilians or captured mercenaries occurs. Can the MSM keep a lid on it?
a capella on March 29, 2011 at 12:24 PM

Of course they can. YES WE CAN !

Rookie on March 29, 2011 at 1:17 PM

Oh, God I hate to put myself in the role of Obama apologist, but could this be why the administration was dragging their feet to take military action in the first place? Perhaps they eventually decided to take a calculated risk and act.

It seems we were criticizing him for inaction before and now we are criticizing him for acting too hastily. I agree there is a huge leadership vacuum at the white house and if Obama had everything together our perception of what is going on would be very different. However, I find it difficult to separate the criticism above from the original he received for doing nothing.

Spacen on March 29, 2011 at 1:18 PM

I tell ya one thing, somebody is making some money baby! Lemme get mine! Holla!

j_galt on March 29, 2011 at 1:21 PM

It seems we were criticizing him for inaction before and now we are criticizing him for acting too hastily. Spacen on March 29, 2011 at 1:18 PM

I don’t think the criticism was because of inaction on the military front; it was for failure to make a decision, any decision, then letting the three sisters make it for him.

a capella on March 29, 2011 at 1:24 PM

Kinetic!

Del Dolemonte on March 29, 2011 at 1:00 PM

How about” Kinetic Winning!

j_galt on March 29, 2011 at 1:27 PM

NATO will now perform some “due diligence” to ensure that we’re not helping our terrorist enemies capture an entire, oil-producing nation:

And this just dawned on people now? (pun intended)

percysunshine on March 29, 2011 at 1:37 PM

Another Ready! Fire! (get someone else to) Aim! moment from the Osama Obama regime.

MrScribbler on March 29, 2011 at 12:21 PM

And shot the wrong target.

antisocial on March 29, 2011 at 1:38 PM

This is what happens when a PWed community organizer gets elected Prez. This is looking more and more like Kosovo. Remember who was behind that madcap misadventure? Yes, it was none other than Brunhillary Clinton, Valkerye of Foggy Bottom. Today Kosovo trains Muslim terrorists, tomorrow Libya. The Caliphate expands. Great work Amazon Spice Girls. Let’s update another moldy oldy. This one a saying from the 60′s. Killing to prevent humanitarian disasters is like fornicating for virginity.

JimP on March 29, 2011 at 1:46 PM

Note: your comment may take up to 30 seconds to show up on the site (longer, if it goes into moderation). Please do not resubmit.

Are my comments all going to moderation? It takes more than an hour for my comments to appear if they do. Is it because Grow Fins and I accidentally agreed on something ? Because I don’t have any respect for Islam? My login reads…..

Logged in as BL%40KBIRD….could that be it?

BL@KBIRD on March 29, 2011 at 1:46 PM

I suggest we ask the Rebels how they feel about the Lockerbie Bomber and if they cheer him we should bomb them instead of Q’Daffy…. Or bombing both might be OK too.

FloatingRock on March 29, 2011 at 1:49 PM

Checking back with an old Italian friend,Machiavelli, and my German buddy Von Clausewitz I find the following advice.
Arm them enough,let it drag out long enough, you let both sides slaughter at will. This kills off future breading stock,warriors,ruins the country,so that it weakens one player on the chess board of the ME. Might break up OPEC as well as screwing the French who are really wanting an old Colony back for oil.The French can re Colonize,assume the burden,restart the Foreign Legion or do whatever. The UN will ring its hands and Bono will hold a sing along for some “Victims.”
Pragmatic solution and if it spills over to other OPEC countries we will finally DRILL in our own self interest.
Watch the Chinese as they need oil.

Col.John Wm. Reed on March 29, 2011 at 1:55 PM

It seems we were criticizing him for inaction before and now we are criticizing him for acting too hastily. I agree there is a huge leadership vacuum at the white house and if Obama had everything together our perception of what is going on would be very different. However, I find it difficult to separate the criticism above from the original he received for doing nothing.

Bingo! A lot of people around here were clamoring for Obama to do something, so I would ask everyone, “what would you do if you were the President of the US?”

- maybe we don’t have intelligence assets on the ground in Libya (likely assumption) and thus can’t assess the make up of the rebels quickly.

- if we do not intervene, then thousands of citizens in Benghazi will be eradicated by Gaddafi’s forces after they mop up the rebels. Is everyone OK with that?

- if the consensus policy around this web site is “that we do not get involved in police actions or nation building”, then it seems that we have to accept the consequences of the US sitting this one (and future genocides) out and letting events unfold as they will.

- I’m not saying that there is a right answer or a wrong answer, it is a difficult choice to have to make, no matter what. Support or not interfere with dictators who allegedly keep the lid on AQ, or interfere to save lives and then be faced with the prospect of a broken nation-state after we help topple the dictator.

What would YOU do?

Old Fritz on March 29, 2011 at 2:01 PM

What would YOU do?

Old Fritz on March 29, 2011 at 2:01 PM

Open your eyes, widely.

Both sides over there want you and your family dead.

You can figure out the rest.

There’s no spring time over there. It will turn into wintry icicles in no time and you will be their target.

Obama is aiding the fall of the semi-secularist rulers over there. That will enhance the power of Iran. He is encouraging their nuclear arsenal build up.

Macro, macro…the micro will be insignificant by the time this all unfolds.

Schadenfreude on March 29, 2011 at 2:09 PM

It seems we were criticizing him for inaction before and now we are criticizing him for acting too hastily. I agree there is a huge leadership vacuum at the white house and if Obama had everything together our perception of what is going on would be very different. However, I find it difficult to separate the criticism above from the original he received for doing nothing.

Spacen on March 29, 2011 at 1:18 PM

I never once criticized him for not acting. I did criticize him for not acting sooner if he’s going to act at all.

Right now we’ve thrown ourselves into a no-win situation.

You can’t half-ass a war. Well, you can, but then you’ll end up with Vietnam Part II.

My criticism now is either go full hog and take care of business, in and out. Or get completely out because the stated goals from the UN mandate are just going to assist one side of an “internal” Libyan war that will drag out for years most likely.

ButterflyDragon on March 29, 2011 at 2:16 PM

What would YOU do?

Old Fritz on March 29, 2011 at 2:01 PM

I subscribe to that old saying, “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t”.

ButterflyDragon on March 29, 2011 at 2:19 PM

What would YOU do?

Old Fritz on March 29, 2011 at 2:01 PM

Refuse to lend our military to the U.N. Make decisions in a timely fashion after consultation with the proper Congressional oversight committees. Prioritize those decisions so that the security and welfare of the United States overrides all else. Avoid empowering those who wish to destroy us.

a capella on March 29, 2011 at 2:21 PM

Old Fritz on March 29, 2011 at 2:01 PM

I would do what Col. Reed detailed in his post. The Colonel is not the only HA commenter who undertands the principles he laid out, and understood them before this misadventure started up. There are many of us out here. Vive la France! Vive la Legionaires!

JimP on March 29, 2011 at 2:29 PM

Old Fritz on March 29, 2011 at 2:01 PM

Let the regime and Fundies kill each other. Then deal with the winner.

antisocial on March 29, 2011 at 2:35 PM

AlJazeera:

8:10pm Alain Juppe, the French foreign minister, says his country is read to begin discussing the possibility of arming the Libyan opposition with its partners.

.Timestamp:
7:52pm Hillary Clinton says that while the US has not made a decision on whether or not to provide the Libyan opposition with weapons, it is prepared to extend financial help.

a capella on March 29, 2011 at 3:15 PM

.Timestamp:
7:52pm Hillary Clinton says that while the US has not made a decision on whether or not to provide the Libyan opposition with weapons, it is prepared to extend financial help.

a capella on March 29, 2011 at 3:15 PM

…becaue the U.S. doesn’t know what to do with all the extra cash laying around, havign taken care of its budget, deficit, debts and etc.

Open yer eyes fools. This ship is going under.

Both sides in Libya and the entire region want you and your children dead. The winning side will make sure of it, with Iran at the helm.

Schadenfreude on March 29, 2011 at 3:20 PM

The administration now says it’s trying to fill the gaps on intelligence

The gap is between Obama’s ears.

woodNfish on March 29, 2011 at 3:43 PM

Col.John Wm. Reed on March 29, 2011 at 1:55 PM

The French Foreign Legion is still active Colonel.

woodNfish on March 29, 2011 at 3:50 PM

Old Fritz on March 29, 2011 at 2:01 PM

Let the regime and Fundies kill each other. Then deal with the winner.

antisocial on March 29, 2011 at 2:35 PM

+100

brtex on March 29, 2011 at 3:58 PM

It seems we were criticizing him for inaction before and now we are criticizing him for acting too hastily. I agree there is a huge leadership vacuum at the white house and if Obama had everything together our perception of what is going on would be very different. However, I find it difficult to separate the criticism above from the original he received for doing nothing.

Bingo! A lot of people around here were clamoring for Obama to do something, so I would ask everyone, “what would you do if you were the President of the US?”

It’s about timing. The best time to intervene decisively and effectively was early in the Libya crisis when the “rebels” held 90% of the nation and Khadaffi was on the ropes with his allies fleeing the country. Instead, Obama dithered indecisively for a month seeking deniability before acting. During that time Khadaffi stabilized his base, went on the counter-offensive and he held 90% of the nation, with the rebels on the ropes before we intervened. Early in the fight the rebels held a much higher percentage of secular supporters — now after a month of fighting what we have is the organized core of islamists linked to Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood assuming the leadership role for the “rebels.”

It’s a case of too much, too late.

EasyEight on March 29, 2011 at 4:02 PM

All the administration had to do was google in ‘Libyian terrorist orgnization’ to discover that one terrorist organization according to their own State Department website, The Libyan Fighting Group (LIFG), was listed. If they looked at different sites they would have discovered that the LIFG became part of Al Qaeda in late 2007 and that some members including at least one leader had fought against the United States in Afghanistan. How can you go to war on the side of the rebels when you don’t know who the rebels are?

Ghadhafi said the rebels were Al Qaeda and drug smugglers. What if he is correct?

The weasel wording of that Admiral made me shake my head. Are these the people who are leading our military who don’t even know who the rebels are while spending over $600M of our tax dollars so far on the operation. Cannot believe they are now calling in the C-130 gunships and A-10′s.

Then Obama says the US is handing over the operation. One slight problem with that statement — the military person over the NATO person handling the operation is an American and the head of NATO is an American, US share of NATO expenses is double what France and Britain give, and most of the resources being used are America. We have put one NATO person in charge in the chain and that is a handover? I call that Bravo Sierra on the part of Obama, Clinton and the rest of the inept Obama Administration.

PhiKapMom on March 29, 2011 at 4:10 PM

Al Qaeda has been present in the Soviet invasion if Afghanistan (which we didn’t support, but still funded rebel elements there), wanted to intervene to attack Saddam (but were deterred by the Saudis), possibly helped Aidid’s militia during Somalia, took part in the Balkans (which, we supported), and were in Chechnya fighting with the rebels there.

The point is wherever Muslims are fighting, they will rear its ugly bearded head. We only need to identify them- like we’ve done in the past with Operation Cyclone- and not support that element/ faction. It should not preclude us from supporting the majority which want regime change.

It’s only a matter of time before Ghadhafi cuts a deal with them (after this is over) and resort to sponsoring terrorism again.

Cr4sh Dummy on March 29, 2011 at 5:32 PM

Why should we suspect that anything will go wrong? After all, the last time we took sides with the opposition, the Taliban turned out to be a mighty good ally…

stacman on March 29, 2011 at 8:57 PM