WH puts CIA on rush orders to vet Libyan rebels

posted at 9:30 am on March 31, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

The good news: the White House has suddenly found a necessity to determine who exactly we’re helping by bombing Moammar Gaddafi’s forces in Libya.  The bad news: the Obama administration isn’t known for its superior vetting skills.  Still, Obama wasn’t openly musing whether to send arms to Adolfo Carrion and Penny Pritzker, either:

The Obama administration has sent teams of CIA operatives into Libya in a rush to gather intelligence on the identities and capabilities of rebel forces opposed to Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, according to U.S. officials.

The information has become more crucial as the administration and its coalition partners move closer to providing direct military aid or guidance to the disorganized and beleaguered rebel army.

Although the administration has pledged that no U.S. ground troops will be deployed to Libya, officials said Wednesday that President Obama has issued a secret finding that would authorize the CIA to carry out a clandestine effort to provide arms and other support to Libyan opposition groups.

The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, insisted that no decision has been made.

Let’s remember that Barack Obama had several weeks to figure this out before engaging in military action on behalf of the rebels, which is clearly what the allied coalition has intended.  This is information we should have known even before the uprisings broke out on either side of Libya in Tunisia and Egypt; the White House should have consulted a map and asked for this information after the convulsions in Libya’s neighbors began.  Obama certainly should have demanded it when the problems started in Libya six weeks ago.

Now we’re bombing Gaddafi’s forces and attempting to keep the rebels alive in the field, even though we don’t know who they are, and no one seemed eager to ask until Congress began balking at the military action.  Roger Simon at Politico can’t quite believe his ears:

Most of the media headlined Clinton’s statement about possibly arming the rebels. Many stories left out what I consider her more important statement: that she really had no idea who the rebels are and that, in fact, they might actually include members of Al Qaeda, the terrorist group that attacked America on Sept. 11, 2001. …

We are killing people — Muammar Qadhafi’s troops and possibly civilians through “collateral damage” — in order to put the rebels in power.

But “we do not have any specific information about specific individuals from any organization who are part of this,” according to our secretary of state.

And they might include terrorists trying to destroy our country.

Yesterday, Clinton left the impression that the White House didn’t particularly feel the need to get Congress’ approval on action in Libya, an attitude that some called arrogant.  It might be more like desperation.  If Obama went to Congress now, his team would have to answer a lot of specific questions about the rebels, Gaddafi’s forces, and the ramifications of utter collapse in Libya, and it looks like his team doesn’t know any of those answers.

If anything, this demonstrates the wisdom of requiring Congressional oversight over warmaking power.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Present!

El Coqui on March 31, 2011 at 9:34 AM

We didn’t start this rush order a month ago?

We didn’t start it two months ago?

blatantblue on March 31, 2011 at 9:35 AM

My son is going to be deployed somewhere, some time this year. Libya?

ladyingray on March 31, 2011 at 9:35 AM

What the hell is the point of having clandestine assets if you won’t deploy them properly?

blatantblue on March 31, 2011 at 9:36 AM

And Shrillary was supposed to be better than him? The cream of the democrat crop.

SouthernGent on March 31, 2011 at 9:37 AM

Closing the barn door well after the horses have escaped?

How to “vet” somebody who is probably answering under a nom de guerre, has a checkered past at best, is living in or from an area that when ya get down to it there isn’t a lot of paper trail, and who may or may not be more than willing to kill any American if given the opportunity…

What are we gonna do? Check their LUD’s from the phone company? Send a telex to Interpol? Ask the guy standing next to them if “Akhmed” is an OK sort of guy?

Vetting takes time, and documentation, and analysis from a psych perspective as well as a counter-intelligence perspective.

We lost seven officers in Afghanistan last January (2010) and the killer was “vetted” or so we thought.

Bottom line, In God We Trust. All others require a complete background investigation.

Or at least that’s the way it was, once, in the long ago.

coldwarrior on March 31, 2011 at 9:38 AM

My son is going to be deployed somewhere, some time this year. Libya?
ladyingray on March 31, 2011 at 9:35 AM

Wisconsin, to put down the Tea Bagger terrorists who are trying to keep the peaceful unions from receiving their fair share of everything.

Bishop on March 31, 2011 at 9:38 AM

Dangerously stupid.

Key West Reader on March 31, 2011 at 9:40 AM

Boots.

Ground.

artist on March 31, 2011 at 9:40 AM

I can save the CIA the trouble and a lot of taxpayer dollars and answer the question right now:

We’re helping the Islamists.

Easy peasy…

catmman on March 31, 2011 at 9:41 AM

Wisconsin, to put down the Tea Bagger terrorists who are trying to keep the peaceful unions from receiving their fair share of everything.

Bishop on March 31, 2011 at 9:38 AM

It wouldn’t surprise me.

ladyingray on March 31, 2011 at 9:41 AM

Boots.

Ground.

artist on March 31, 2011 at 9:40 AM

Obama = Pants. Down.

Key West Reader on March 31, 2011 at 9:41 AM

If Obama went to Congress now, his team would have to answer a lot of specific questions about the rebels, Gaddafi’s forces, and the ramifications of utter collapse in Libya, and it looks like his team doesn’t know any of those answers.

He should still do it. Avoiding Congress will only alienate them even more(including members of his own party) and if/when things go very badly in Libya which is looking more and more likely every day, he and his administration will own it all by themselves.

Obama could go the way of LBJ in 1968 if he keeps this up.

Doughboy on March 31, 2011 at 9:41 AM

If anything, this demonstrates the wisdom of requiring Congressional oversight over warmaking power.

It also demonstrates the foolishness of allowing a clique with the mentality and experience of leftwing undergraduates to run the country.

I can’t remember where I read it, maybe VDH, a comment early in the Obama regime about a club of leftwing undergrads running the country. It fits. Seriously, Obama’s entire intellectual makeup was fully formed around age 20 and he hasn’t learned a single *&!#$ thing in the 30 years since then.

jwolf on March 31, 2011 at 9:42 AM

You generally research a business BEFORE you buy their stock.
 
Oh, wait.

rogerb on March 31, 2011 at 9:43 AM

Vetting is the wrong action. It assumes a static history. What we should be doing is co-opting them: come out for constitutionally enshrined rights (life, liberty, property) and we move support in your direction.

Count to 10 on March 31, 2011 at 9:44 AM

……aaaand what happens when we find out that these guys are not the type we want to be helping? Gadaffi will stay in power because we will withdraw. In my mind, that is the BEST case scenario.

This is shaping up to be a clusterfark of epic proportion.

Mord on March 31, 2011 at 9:44 AM

Here, all you bearded dudes wearing keffiyahs and “I Hate Infidels” shirts, please fill out this questionnaire:

1) Are you a terrorist Yes[] No[]

2) Have you ever decapitated anyone Yes[] No[]

3) Do you enjoy tipping walls over on women Yes[] No[]

4) Is your girlfriend a woolly farm animal Yes[] No[]

5) Do cartoons send you into a rage Yes[] No[]

Your answers will be graded and you will be informed whether you are eligible for weapons and training from the United States.

Bishop on March 31, 2011 at 9:46 AM

It’s ok folks, Obama said that the rebels are doctors and lawyers. Not to worry.

kringeesmom on March 31, 2011 at 9:50 AM

This is information we should have known even before the uprisings broke out on either side of Libya in Tunisia and Egypt;

And according to Glenn Beck yesterday, the National Security Council met with Egyptian democracy advocates last October — so we should have had some idea of who all these guys were months ago. Glenn may be overly dramatic and may be matching up pieces that don’t necessarily fit, but at least he’s asking the right questions.

I’m not so much baffled that we have an inexperienced president, but it seems as though all those around him aren’t much better.

rbj on March 31, 2011 at 9:50 AM

I hate to do this guys. But I can’t help. This is SMART POWER.

antisocial on March 31, 2011 at 9:50 AM

Libyan Rebel spokesman: “Welcome United States CIA man. Yes, please, let me introduce you to the leader of the Libyan rebels….Mr. Osama bin Laden.
He has a great idea of using US airliners to destroy the buildings that Moammar Gaddafi is located in.”

albill on March 31, 2011 at 9:51 AM

Will we get to see all their long-form birth certificates?

Naturally Curly on March 31, 2011 at 9:52 AM

The CIA and clandestine operations:

This sounds like Chile before Pinochet in the 1970′s.

technopeasant on March 31, 2011 at 9:56 AM

Obama could go the way of LBJ in 1968 if he keeps this up.

Doughboy on March 31, 2011 at 9:41 AM

Is this not a good thing?

Naturally Curly on March 31, 2011 at 9:56 AM

The adults are in charge!!!

ladyingray on March 31, 2011 at 9:58 AM

It’s ok folks, Obama said that the rebels are doctors and lawyers. Not to worry.

kringeesmom on March 31, 2011 at 9:50 AM

Thanks for the laugh. I had forgotten about that howler. Even the MSM should have snorted with derision after that one.

I’m not so much baffled that we have an inexperienced president, but it seems as though all those around him aren’t much better.

rbj on March 31, 2011 at 9:50 AM

Not so surprising IMHO. After all, who made the appointments? GIGO.

jwolf on March 31, 2011 at 9:59 AM

@Ed Morrissey: If anything, this demonstrates the wisdom of requiring Congressional oversight over warmaking power.

Am I actually reading this, or has the glaucoma finally rotted my sight?

Utter politicized hypocrisy, once again — no better than Kos.

Mr. Ed was a hell of a more sanguine about Donald Rumsfeld organizing a secret black ops unit. Oh, but that was when Republicans owned the White House.

bifidis on March 31, 2011 at 10:00 AM

If Obama went to Congress now, his team would have to answer a lot of specific questions about the rebels, Gaddafi’s forces, and the ramifications of utter collapse in Libya, and it looks like his team doesn’t know any of those answers.

Is that what’s behind the Rubio letter?

petefrt on March 31, 2011 at 10:03 AM

Are the people doing the vetting the same people who spent months and a ton of money talking to a Taliban leader who turned out to be a fake? Because I’m not feeling optimistic about their abilities.

hboulware on March 31, 2011 at 10:04 AM

If you can’t beat al Qaeda, arm them. Classic “Obama Think”

Hening on March 31, 2011 at 10:06 AM

Calling for Adults! Any adults please come forward!!

KickandSwimMom on March 31, 2011 at 10:07 AM

Is it possible Obama and Hillary will both go down if Libiya goes south? How long until Obama throws Hillary under the bus?

ldbgcoleman on March 31, 2011 at 10:09 AM

If Obama went to Congress now, his team would have to answer a lot of specific questions about the rebels, Gaddafi’s forces, and the ramifications of utter collapse in Libya, and it looks like his team doesn’t know any of those answers.

I thought that I heard that Robert Gates and ADM Mullen were testifying today before the House Armed Services Committee. I wonder how the Committee will square the statements of the SECSTATE with the testimony of the SECDEF within the context of the executive branch’s statement from Ft McNair on Monday.

ted c on March 31, 2011 at 10:12 AM

Smartest White House ever. What’s better, the President and his advisors are this incompentent, or that they are actively interested in harming America?

hawksruleva on March 31, 2011 at 10:13 AM

Wag the dog becomes pin the tail on the donkey.

technopeasant on March 31, 2011 at 10:14 AM

Obviously cowboy bushitler is to blame for this predicament. Jefferson too.

abobo on March 31, 2011 at 10:14 AM

The Obama administration has sent teams of CIA operatives into Libya in a rush to gather intelligence on the identities and capabilities of rebel forces opposed to Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, according to U.S. officials.

This is how the Democrats conduct a vetting process. NSFW/

ted c on March 31, 2011 at 10:15 AM

I saw on the news last night where a reporter witnessed some rebels trying to launch a rocket and had it pointing backwards and hit a village. He said these rebels have no idea how to operate the artillery that somehow they got a hold of.

Electrongod on March 31, 2011 at 10:15 AM

If Obama went to Congress now, his team would have to answer a lot of specific questions about the rebels, Gaddafi’s forces, and the ramifications of utter collapse in Libya, and it looks like his team doesn’t know any of those answers.

It appears that “his team” could use a major over-haul, something along the lines of a cash-for-clunkers campaign.

Why does this country assume Obama has the ability to produce positive results in Libya, when he can’t even find the ability to produce a single private sector job in his own country? The gulf oil spill should have been Obama’s Katrina, yet the media gave him a passing grade on his performance there. Unemployment is still running at real figures between 10% and 16% percent depending on which region of the country you’re in. “His Team” rammed down our throats one of the worst pieces of socialized legislation with the joke of health care reform that was supposed to reduce overall cost. “His Team” and the Fed still haven’t quit printing money by the billions propping up a phony stock market.

Gaddafi and Libya are the least of our problems when a national economic crisis is upon all of us right here……right now! Yet Obama, “His Team”, and the spoon-fed media is doing their best to take the light off the real crisis facing this nation. How many ways can we say WAG THE DOG? !!!!!!!!

Rovin on March 31, 2011 at 10:20 AM

Military intelligence: the ultimate oxymoron.

technopeasant on March 31, 2011 at 10:20 AM

Over at Huffpo some imbecile calling himself “Jean Renoir” is convinced that Qaddafi is akin to Hitler whereas Saddam Hussein was not, that an attack on Iran (like that on Iraq) would service only the hated Likud-in-the-Bush whereas somehow clobbering Libya is in the best spirit of Ernest Hemingway, Rick Blaine and La Passionara. I hope conservatives can furnish something better in the way of analysis. Please.

Seth Halpern on March 31, 2011 at 10:22 AM

Smartest White House ever. What’s better, the President and his advisors are this incompentent, or that they are actively interested in harming America?

hawksruleva on March 31, 2011 at 10:13 AM

They know who the rebels are, and they are actively interested in harming America and Israel.

Naturally Curly on March 31, 2011 at 10:22 AM

Obama: Uuuuuuuuh Hillary? I’m really not good with this hard stuff. Take care of it for me. *SLAP* (a lil gift from Obama’s hand to Hillarys behind). I’ll wait here and eat my Cap’n Crunch, and you report back to me, uuuuuuuuuuuh whenever.

capejasmine on March 31, 2011 at 10:25 AM

My son is going to be deployed somewhere, some time this year. Libya?
ladyingray on March 31, 2011 at 9:35 AM

Wherever he goes..our prayers and support are with him.

Baxter Greene on March 31, 2011 at 10:25 AM

The rebels will turn out to be al Qaeda, but the Obama administration will end up giving them the seal of approval.

No, unfortunately, I don’t expect better from this megalomaniacal administration.

Aitch748 on March 31, 2011 at 10:26 AM

Most folks know enough occasionally not to venture into a situation where “angels fear to tread”.

But of course Obama is NO angel and that is the main reason he ventures into a situation where even the devil may fear to tread.

technopeasant on March 31, 2011 at 10:28 AM

Yesterday, Clinton left the impression that the White House didn’t particularly feel the need to get Congress’ approval on action in Libya, an attitude that some called arrogant.

Ah, good clarification. Now I clearly understand that KMA stands for Kiss My Ass. There seemed to have been some confusion between Kick and Kiss. Of course, if we ended up arming rebels that later turn out to be Al Queda, who in turn, bad mouth the U.S. after the conflict, Kick will become appropriate.

parke on March 31, 2011 at 10:30 AM

albill on March 31, 2011 at 9:51 AM

More like: Rebel Leader: Yes, Mr. CIA, this is our grand leader Mr. “Joe Blow Pulled Off the Street.” He is a doctor and a lawyer and an architect. He is our best general too and he needs your help.

*CIA Man Leaves, satisfied*

Rebel Leader: Kill that Joe Blow Pulled Off the Street. We don’t need him anymore.

p40tiger on March 31, 2011 at 10:31 AM

I don’t understand. Didn’t Obama tell Brian Williams we had fully vetted the leaders and they all seemed like great guys saying the right things?

Rocks on March 31, 2011 at 10:39 AM

Well, either our guys on the ground who are doing target selection are incredibly bad, which I doubt, or Daffy’s got his propaganda machine oiled up and running. I notice these were American observers. Which civilians is it we don’t want to kill? Is a humanitarian crisis a one sided affair?
http://au.news.yahoo.com/a/-/world/9113812/at-least-40-civilians-dead-in-tripoli-strikes-vatican-official/

a capella on March 31, 2011 at 10:40 AM

Leon Panetta stated that as soon as CNN knows something, he will report it to the President.

jeffn21 on March 31, 2011 at 10:43 AM

Wag the dog becomes pin the tail on the donkey.

technopeasant on March 31, 2011 at 10:14 AM

Looks like that to me more each day.

Obviously, France and Germany were protecting their oil interests (and Barry couldn’t care less about any of that). The “humanitarian” thing is more a pretext than a motive, else we’d be looking seriously at Iran, Syria, Yemen, etc.

More and more it’s looking like Barry thought Libya would be a quick, easy way to shore up his foreign policy leadership ratings for 2012. Heck, what could go wrong, since Libya had no real army and the UN, the Arab League, and our European allies were asking for help.

Now the UN crying foul and the Arab League is nowhere to be seen. Was Barry bamboozled?

petefrt on March 31, 2011 at 10:43 AM

I’m sure Leon is calling the news desks at the networks, CNN, and MSNBC right now to find out about the rebels.

tims472 on March 31, 2011 at 10:47 AM

WH puts CIA on rush orders to vet Libyan rebels

FIRE!!…..Ready…..Aim….

Incompetence on parade!

landlines on March 31, 2011 at 10:49 AM

Here’s a twist…

Beck says Soros is organizing the opposition.

If true, then Obama is helping Soros take over Libya and their oil.

faraway on March 31, 2011 at 10:52 AM

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/03/29/3176608.htm

ABC reporter says Obama called Libyan action “a turd sandwich” in WH meeting.

Enjoy your sandwich, Barry.

AZCoyote on March 31, 2011 at 10:54 AM

More and more it’s looking like Barry thought Libya would be a quick, easy way to shore up his foreign policy leadership ratings for 2012. Heck, what could go wrong, since Libya had no real army and the UN, the Arab League, and our European allies were asking for help.

Now the UN crying foul and the Arab League is nowhere to be seen. Was Barry bamboozled?

petefrt on March 31, 2011 at 10:43 AM

This would truly be poetic justice.

jwolf on March 31, 2011 at 10:54 AM

Did anyone bother to try and vet the rebels when Obama said he wanted Kadaffy gone? No.

Did anyone vet them in the next two weeks? No.

Did anyone vet them when Obama started getting involved in the NFZ concept? No.

Did anyone vet them after the NFZ started and then was expanded into a No Tank Zone? No.

Did anyone vet them when it was leaked that Obama wanted to give the rebels arms? No.

So, after we find a field al Qaeda guy who has been to both Afghanistan and Iraq, and through US military processing, only NOW do we start to think that ‘Gee… maybe we should… you know… look into their backgrounds?’

Bad enough the CIA doesn’t have any HUMINT in the country that could have gotten back to HQ like in a day or two once things bubbled over weeks ago. That does lead to the conclusion that the CIA has had NO long-term plans to get decent INTEL from Libya for years if not a decade or more…

Oh. And still no policy, yet, on why we are actually there and what our vital interests are. Soon bleeding hearts will lead to bleeding bodies.

ajacksonian on March 31, 2011 at 10:56 AM

Someone here is going to believe what Obama says the CIA learns from its interviews with islamists, whose religion mandates that they lie to the infidels?

GaltBlvnAtty on March 31, 2011 at 10:56 AM

“Bush went to Congress Barry didn’t” — just a slogan— Bumper Sticker —

wheels on March 31, 2011 at 10:57 AM

In the news today: Holder, Clinton, Obama, and that VP nut what ever his name is are all violating their oaths of office, laws and, the Constitution. Another no news day filled with the standard filler.

burt on March 31, 2011 at 11:00 AM

bifidis on March 31, 2011 at 10:00 AM

You need to have Soros give you better material, kid.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_Support_Branch

Pentagon lawyers also define the “war on terror” as ongoing, indefinite and global in scope. That analysis effectively discards the limitation of the defense secretary’s war powers to times and places of imminent combat.

Del Dolemonte on March 31, 2011 at 11:02 AM

Am I actually reading this, or has the glaucoma finally rotted my sight?

Utter politicized hypocrisy, once again — no better than Kos.

Mr. Ed was a hell of a more sanguine about Donald Rumsfeld organizing a secret black ops unit. Oh, but that was when Republicans owned the White House.

bifidis on March 31, 2011 at 10:00 AM

You were shouting at the top of your lungs and wearing pink when Bush invaded Iraq, weren’t you, Troll? You and your president.

kingsjester on March 31, 2011 at 11:04 AM

This is information we should have known

Well maybe if the head of the CIA was an intelligence expert and not just a political hack.

GarandFan on March 31, 2011 at 11:04 AM

Someone here is going to believe what Obama says the CIA learns from its interviews with islamists, whose religion mandates that they lie to the infidels?

GaltBlvnAtty on March 31, 2011 at 10:56 AM

About as much as the DOJ investigation into the NBP Philly voter intimidation case.

a capella on March 31, 2011 at 11:15 AM

Don’t worry about this folks, Director of National Intelligence Clapper tells us that the Lybian rebels are 100% secular.

slickwillie2001 on March 31, 2011 at 11:20 AM

Breaking: Rebels saying they just love Obamacare—CIA, CNN, MSNBC satisfied rebels intentions are genuine.

Rovin on March 31, 2011 at 11:21 AM

Gonna cut them a little slack on this. They were spot on regarding the lack of MB infuence in Egypt, weren’t they?

a capella on March 31, 2011 at 11:24 AM

a capella on March 31, 2011 at 11:24 AM

But that’s not a problem, since the Muslim Brotherhood is a secular, non-threatening organization — kind of like the Boy Scouts.

AZCoyote on March 31, 2011 at 11:39 AM

Leon Panetta- rush to action?
AHAHAH.
Trust me, having had this empty suit as a congressional rep for years, you can always count on Leon to screw up in a big way when something actually has to get done.
Another chicken coming home to roost.

jjshaka on March 31, 2011 at 11:40 AM

I’m reminded of that scene from Dumb and Dumber.

Guy stands near his car with hood raised and asks, “Are you guys going to Davenport? My car died and I’m late for a luncheon.”

The dumbies respond, “We usually don’t pickup hitchhikers but I’m gonna go on my instinct on this one. Saddleup partner.”

The hitchhiker was trying to wrongfully take their suitcase of money.

I think Obama and company were going with that same kind of instinct.

shick on March 31, 2011 at 11:53 AM

Horse meets back of cart. What you wanna bet the cia sees small d democrats who need our boots on the ground.

Kissmygrits on March 31, 2011 at 12:32 PM

The part I do not understand is what organization would someone need to be affiliated with to disuade Obama from handing them a gun?

As near as I can tell, only the Tea Party and the NRA are on the Obama administration’s list.

Freddy on March 31, 2011 at 12:52 PM

This Libya thing is turning into an episode of Stupid vs Stupid vs Stupid… SvSvS

drfredc on March 31, 2011 at 12:59 PM

Pre-emplomnent screenings for Media Matters and Organizing for America.

BigWyo on March 31, 2011 at 1:10 PM

I hate to do this guys. But I can’t help. This is SMART POWER.

antisocial on March 31, 2011 at 9:50 AM

make that SMART-A$$ POWER

ziggyville on March 31, 2011 at 1:47 PM

Jump first, look later.

Or as another poster put it, “Fire! Ready… aim.”

Or, as I think, O knew this all along and got in anyway. to make us look weak and stupid is a positive for him.

-Aslan’s Girl

Aslans Girl on March 31, 2011 at 5:38 PM

@Ed Morrissey: If anything, this demonstrates the wisdom of requiring Congressional oversight over warmaking power.

Am I actually reading this, or has the glaucoma finally rotted my sight?

Utter politicized hypocrisy, once again — no better than Kos.

Mr. Ed was a hell of a more sanguine about Donald Rumsfeld organizing a secret black ops unit. Oh, but that was when Republicans owned the White House.

bifidis on March 31, 2011 at 10:00 AM

Ed is more principled than most but yeah partisan talking points….

lexhamfox on March 31, 2011 at 9:43 PM