This morning Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley tweeted that Obama “killed bin Laden, al-Awlaki and Gaddafi, without Congressional approval…”

But lots of people jumped in with a correction on this point:

Is this true? Well, technically yes. Gaddafi’s last moments didn’t come at the hands of Americans. However, his death did follow an airstrike led by a US predator drone being operated from Las Vegas. Here’s a detailed account published in Oct 2011 by the Telegraph:

Gaddafi had been under surveillance by Nato forces for the past week after an intelligence breakthrough allowed them to pinpoint his location.

An American drone and an array of Nato eavesdropping aircraft had been trained on his Sirte stronghold to ensure he could not escape…

MI6 agents and CIA officers on the ground were also providing intelligence and it is believed that Gaddafi was given a code name in the same way that US forces used the name Geronimo during the operation to kill Osama bin Laden…

The Predator drone, flown out of Sicily and controlled via satellite from a base outside Las Vegas, struck the convoy with a number of Hellfire anti-tank missiles. Moments later French jets, most likely Rafales, swept in, targeting the vehicles with 500lb Paveway bombs or highly accurate £600,000 AASM munitions.

Gaddafi survived the attack on the convoy but was captured by rebel forces a few hours later. So to sum up, we invaded Libya, helped track Gaddafi to where he was hiding, isolated him, realized he was making a run for it, and fired missiles at his convoy such that he wound up hiding in a drain pipe. But it was locals who shot him. Some argued that it was disingenuous to pretend the US wasn’t responsible given the events leading to his death:

Gidley argued his critics were missing the point:

It’s worth noting that Gidley is correct about then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She was much less careful about Gaddafi’s cause of death during a break between interviews back in 2011: “We came. We saw. He died,” she said, an obvious reference to “Veni, Vidi, Vici,” (I came, I saw, I conquered) attributed to Julius Caesar.

At the time she said this she had just gotten word of Gaddafi’s capture which was still unconfirmed. Still, it’s fair to say she wasn’t averse to the idea the US was responsible.

Update: Twitchy has some more context from 2011.

The US drone connection to Gaddafi’s death didn’t seem as obscure then as it does today.