A report based on recently released Hillary Clinton emails indicate that, as Secretary of State, Clinton refused to take a Skype call from Moammar Qaddafi’s son Saif, in which he was allegedly looking to broker a peace deal.
That is the gist of emails obtained by Fox News, whose sources say that literally the day before airstrikes on Libya began in March 2011, Saif Qaddafi tried to take advantage of that “soft power” President Obama and Clinton are always going on about.
One of these emails describes an offer to “arrange a face-to-face meeting with Saif, or a Skype/video telecon to open communications if time does not permit.”
The email suggested that “a peaceful resolution is still possible that keeps Saif on our side without bloodshed in Benghazi.” As things shook out, there most certainly was bloodshed in Benghazi.
About half an hour later, a senior policy adviser indicated that a Skype call to Saif Qaddafi was ready to go. It was suggested that top-level officials be assembled for the call, including strategy director Lt. General Charles Jacoby, who was “responsible for planning coalition and NATO operations in Libya,” according to Fox News.
This led to what the report describes as “a high-stakes drama which played out at the Pentagon, the State Department, and the White House”:
The source told Fox News that a staffer was sent to look for Jacoby at the Pentagon, and somewhere between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., Clinton instructed Jacoby “to not take the call from Saif and that Ambassador Gene Cretz was the only one she authorized to talk to Saif.” At the time, Cretz was the U.S. ambassador to Libya.
Clinton’s instructions effectively meant no high-level administration official took the call. The following day, on March 19, the U.S. began participating in airstrikes over Libya – Muammar Qaddafi himself would be killed seven months later.
While it is not possible to independently assess the credibility of Saif’s offer, his father did follow through on a 2003 pledge to come clean on Libya’s weapons of mass destruction program, after the U.S. invaded Iraq, and Qaddafi met with then-deputy director of the CIA Steve Kappes.
A review of Clinton’s public schedule shows March 18, 2011, was indeed a pivotal day during her tenure as secretary of state. Clinton was in Washington, D.C. that day and made three trips to the White House. Brad Blakeman, former adviser to President George W. Bush, said the number of trips was unusual, and most likely reflected sensitive foreign policy deliberations.
“This is a crisis. It’s a high-level decision that is being made and for there to be shuttle diplomacy to be made between the White House and the State Department tells me it is so highly compartmentalized that there’s no use of phones,” Blakeman explained. “It’s all personal communication between the president or the senior staff at the White House and the Secretary.”
But there was no communication with Saif Qaddafi, even though Fox News recalls that his nutty-but-shrewd father was obviously known to make and keep deals with the U.S., such as his nuclear disarmament pact. It is also noted that rumors of a peace proposal from Qaddafi have been heard for years, but these newly-uncovered emails would be the first documentation that the offer was real, and was known to senior officials.
Jacoby and Clinton did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment on their story. As for Saif Qaddafi, he survived the war but was caught while attempting to flee Libya and is currently parked in a Libyan jail, having been sentenced to death in July.
The UK Guardian noted that his sentence came after a “mass trial of former regime figures widely criticized by human rights groups and observers.” In fact, the International Criminal Court lawyer appointed to Qaddafi described the proceedings as “a complete show trial” and a “farce.” In an ironic detail, Qaddafi appeared in the trial using a Skype-style video link, which only worked on three of the occasions when the court tried to connect it. The Guardian notes that one of the U.N. trial monitors was briefly taken prisoner by the militia guarding the courtroom, on charges of practicing black magic.
Of course, because this is post-Obama, post-Clinton Libya, the militia holding Saif Qaddafi prisoner is not the same gang currently in control of Tripoli, which in turn is not the force recognized by the international community as the legitimate government of Libya.