CIA Officer: "Those Libyan rebels clowns are not able to do anything effective until they are trained and have new weaponry…"
“… But the confab stretched from the afternoon into evening–and by the time it wound down, CIA Director Leon Panetta had offered to send CIA personnel covertly to work on the ground in Libya. ”Once again, we were the only ones at the table who stepped up,” Panetta later described the offer, according to a source who insisted on anonymity because of the sensitive consultations….
There were many reasons the sudden commitment of personnel came from the CIA, and not the U.S. military. Not surprisingly, political concerns place high on that list, with a war-weary American public skeptical about any more long-term troop commitments in the Arab world… Asked by a committee member if there were any U.S. “boots on the ground” in Libya, Gates responded: “Not that I am aware of,” and then added: “The opposition said they don’t want any.” Gates then fielded another question about the likelihood of a later deployment of U.S. troops on the ground in Libya. ”Not as long as I am in the job,” he replied sharply.
So with no U.S. troops in play, the CIA is tasked with gathering intelligence and performing logistical groundwork at a critical stage of the effort … ”They are in there collecting intelligence, deepening our understanding of who the rebels are,” one former U.S. intelligence officer who has worked on the Middle East told The Envoy Thursday on condition of anonymity. “It gives intelligence color to what is in fact a covert action, interacting with the rebels. They are not doing quasi-covert diplomacy, they are doing intelligence.”…
Of course, there’s a disconnect between the White House’s depiction of the Libyan mission as a bid to stave off a humanitarian catastrophe, and the recent reports suggesting deepening covert U.S. involvement on the ground. But the former senior intelligence official said it would be naive to have believed it would have been otherwise once the first U.S. Patriot missiles exploded in Libya last Saturday. ”I would hope there was not a single person in the administration [involved in Libya decision-making] who was childish enough to think that anybody who was involved in the first military operation … could ever again be engaged in a relationship with the Gadhafi regime,” the source said. “It ain’t going to happen. Of course we took sides. We crossed that rubicon.”
But another former CIA officer took a different view, saying the disconnect may arise from a certain degree of wishful thinking in the administration’s initial decision-making on Libya. ”It’s really simple: we incrementally get involved and [then] don’t know what to do,” the second former CIA officer said. The Obama administration “really thought a little pressure and he [Gadhafi] will fall.” ”The model is we [the CIA] go in and do a limited amount of training,” the second former CIA official said. “So there is someone we can work with—as we increase air operations, and eventually hit artillery and armor.” ”Those clowns are not able to do anything effective until they are trained and have new weaponry, ” likely from Egypt, the former CIA officer said, referring to the Libyan rebels. He suggested the CIA’s ground-branch division, which includes many personnel who have para-military backgrounds, may also “train the Libyan rebels how to fight, how to shoot, how to organize into groups.”…
At the same time that he outlined the best-case option Gates also cautioned that the United States’ ability to influence such outcomes is extremely limited. “We don’t have any real influence with the tribes.”