Exclusive: Former CIA Official: Obama 'October Surprise' Airstrike in Libya 'Would Be Criminal'
This morning, Breitbart News spoke with a former senior CIA official with specific knowledge of the ongoing issues in Libya, who spelled out the risks associated with the Obama administration’s rumored prospective airstrikes on targets in Libya. Two days ago, the New York Times reported that the administration was preparing an operation inside Libya, including the possibility of drone strikes. Breitbart News reported yesterday that a senior Department of Defense official said that the administration was advance planning for a “substantial air package” that could include manned flights.
The former senior CIA official told Breitbart News that with America’s lack of intelligence on the ground in Libya, the fallout for any sort of airstrike could be catastrophic, leading to civilian casualties, and more broadly, to the fall of a weak but moderate Libyan government. He pointed out that the government in Pakistan has been forced to answer for US airstrikes inside Pakistan, thanks to the high level of civilian casualties; such scrutiny for a weaker and far more moderate government in Libya would cause its collapse. “The danger is what straw will break a very weak, moderate, democratically elected government in Libya,” he stated. “There are people on the ground with relationships with the Tripoli government. This government is hanging on by a thread, building a coalition to keep the extremists at bay and the moderates together. Any unilateral US attack that isn’t looked upon as something done in conjunction with Libyan forces will be very difficult for this government to survive.”
In essence, the former senior CIA official said, the Obama administration “would be sacrificing an allied government for just a couple of votes.”
“This is not Afghanistan in 1998,” the official said. “There, we had an adverse government, target packages away from population centers, good on-the-ground intelligence. Here we have none of the above. There is a tremendous lack of intelligence, a weak but friendly government, and our enemies have learned to hide amongst civilians and place their resources in crowds.”
The former senior CIA official stated that it is usual for the Department of Defense to put together contingency lists in the aftermath of foreign policy catastrophes like the murder of our ambassador in Libya. He also said that he had confidence that the Department of Defense would stand against any airstrike inside Libyan targets: “They’ll have enough people who will say, ‘this is purely political.’”
Nonetheless, the official spoke out to Breitbart News because of his concerns that the Obama Department of Defense under Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has been so heavily politicized. “I get complaints from the Pentagon that this whole thing is much more politicized than it was under the previous administration,” he explained. “They believe that many of the security leaks from the Department of Defense, particularly with regard to Israel, were intentional, with most senior people in the White House knowing.”
With that level of politicization of our defense strategy in the White House, this official states that a “wag the dog” scenario, in which airstrikes are undertaken in order to make the president seem stronger going into an election, is a very real possibility. “We’re 30 days before the election,” he said. “People have been crying wolf over ‘wag the dog’ since the movie came out. But this would be it. There’s not one intelligence officer – even the Director of National Intelligence – who could look you in the eye and say, ‘Sure, the intelligence is good enough for a surgical strike using smart weapons from above.’
“If the administration pursues an airstrike at this time, both Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and CIA Director General David Petraeus should be removed from office … This would be criminal.”