Will Libya’s $1000 an hour U.S. and British lobbyists stop their heinous work?

February 22, 2011

* No remorse from The London School of Economics (LSE) which agreed to take millions from Gaddafi
* Only 11 weeks ago, Gaddafi himself was invited to address LSE students via video link, with the help of a leading London PR firm

* Leading New York law firm White & Case took $1000 an hour to lobby for Gaddafi

* Among others who have written soft propaganda pieces for Gaddafi and his son in the Western media in recent months: Sarah Leah Whitson, the head of Human Rights Watch’s Mideast division (the same woman who has helped run the HRW delegtimization campaign against Israel), and Stephen Walt (author of the best-selling conspiracy theory “The Israel Lobby”), and writers for The New York Times and Financial Times.

This dispatch concerns the situation in Libya.



1. Libya’s $1000 an hour lobbyists
2. Leaked footage of Gaddafi’s thugs at work in Benghazi prior to freedom
3. From a source whose identity needs to be protected
4. Murder at Birka
5. Burning Gaddafi’s Green Book
6. No surprise, as the UN Human Rights Council turns a blind eye
7. A pathetic statement from the London School of Economics
8. The Western media’s idiotic flirtation with Gaddafi’s son
9. Walt soft peddles Gaddafi
10. An interactive map of protests across Libya
11. Just in case they claim they didn’t know
12. “Make Libya a no fly zone” (By Joshua Muravchik, World Affairs Journal, Feb. 22, 2011)
13. “Is the Obama administration soft on Gaddafi?” (Washington Post, Feb. 22, 2011)
14. “Abbas proves he prefers posturing to a peace process” (Washington Post, Feb. 18, 2011)

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


As massacres and execution-style killings by the Libyan government continue and the White House condemns the “appalling” violence in the country, can someone ask the leading American law firm White & Case whether they’re still lobbying for Gaddafi at $1000 an hour?

I am told that Brown, Lloyd, James, have been heavily involved in promoting the image of Gaddafi’s murderous son, Saif al-Islam. (For more about his son, please see below.)

Victims of Libyan terrorism, including relatives of those who died in the Lockerbie bombing, have notified White & Case, Blank & Rome, the Livingston Group and Westerners who have benefitted from the Libyan regime, that their assets may be used to fund compensation for victims of terrorist attacks.

Another firm active in lobbying on behalf of the Libyan regime is this one.

And these are the people they are representing:



Hundreds of peaceful protesters and innocent bystanders have been deliberately shot and killed by government snipers. Artillery and helicopter gunships have been used against crowds. Gunmen have fired on mourners in funeral processions for protesters the regime previously killed. Thugs armed with hammers and swords have attacked families in their homes. Women and children in the city of Benghazi were seen jumping off a bridge to escape.



This source is usually reliable. He writes:

“Civilians are being rounded up in Tripoli – anyone found not to be a Gaddafi supporter – and being taken to the Aziziya Base which is Gaddafi’s headquarters. Gaddafi is at that base – he is creating a human shield with these civilians. Crimes against Humanity have already begun, and Libyans are totally unaware of any international pressure being placed on Gaddafi and his regime. In Benghazi, the dead bodies found at the Birka base were soldiers, executed for not following orders to attack civilians.”



Here is a video of some of those murdered on Gaddafi’s orders at Birka:



Here is a remarkable video from the town of Tobruk showing young Libyans burning down one of the country’s many centers for the study of Gaddafi’s infamous “Green Book.”

Libya is an extremely repressive country (not that you would know that by reading UN reports) and you have to be very brave to do this.



I have consistently criticized the appallingly misnamed UN Human Rights Council for its covering up for dictators.

So it is hardly worth asking why the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council isn’t convening a special session on the situation in Libya.

Gaddafi’s security forces have killed and injured thousands of innocent people, including children, in cold blood in Tripoli, Benghazi, Misurata, Al-Baida, and other Libyan towns and cities. Why isn’t the UN attempting to fly in even the most basic medical care for the wounded?



The London School of Economics (LSE) which, like the UN Human Rights Council, has done its fair share of denigrating the Middle East’s only democracy, Israel, has finally and belatedly decided to cut its ties with the Libyan regime. (For years I have criticized the LSE for cozying up to Gaddafi and accepting huge sums of money from him. They have continued to do this even after his hanging of students at Libyan universities, his torture of pro-democracy campaigners at home and his terrorism abroad.)

But the LSE’s statement (copied below, in case they retroactively change it online later) is feeble and evasive and there is very little remorse about their collaboration with one of the world’s nastiest dictators.

Statement on Libya by LSE (February 21, 2011):


The School has had a number of links with Libya in recent years. In view of the highly distressing news from Libya over the weekend of 19-20 February, the School has reconsidered those links as a matter of urgency.

LSE Enterprise has delivered executive education programmes to Libyan officials, principally from the Economic Development Board, and managers. That programme has been completed, and no further courses are in preparation. We have also received scholarship funding in respect of advice given to the Libyan Investment Authority in London. No further receipts are anticipated.

LSE Global Governance - a research centre at the School - accepted, with the approval of the School’s Council, a grant from the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, chaired by Saif-al-Islam, one of Colonel Gaddafi’s sons and an LSE graduate. This note| from LSE Global Governance explains how that money has been used to date, on a North African programme of study, principally involving civil society issues. In current difficult circumstances across the region, the School has decided to stop new activities under that programme. The Council of the School will keep the position under review.

The School intends to continue its work on democratisation in North Africa funded from other sources unrelated to the Libyan authorities.


Tom Gross adds:

Last December, Colonel Gaddafi himself addressed LSE students via a video conference. (Report here from the London Daily Mail.)

In the meantime, the LSE, like several other leading British, American and Canadian universities, have run “Israeli apartheid” campaigns on campus.

We haven’t seen such disgrace at the LSE since Sidney and Beatrice Webb, who founded the LSE, wrote that there was much to admire in Stalinist Russia. “Stalin is now universally considered to have justified his leadership by success,” they wrote in 1942 after Stalin had already murdered many millions of his citizens.



For years, “expert commentators” in the liberal Western media have touted Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, as a democrat and a reformer. I have barely ever read an article portraying him as anything else.

On Sunday night, Saif al-Islam vowed on Libyan TV that his father and security forces would “fight to the last minute, until the last bullet.” Within minutes of his speech, he ordered snipers to open fire on crowds in Tripoli’s main square, and Gaddafi supporters then sped through in vehicles, shooting and running over protesters.

Here, for example, is Sarah Leah Whitson, the head of Human Rights Watch’s Mideast division, writing in 2009 in the influential Washington magazine, “Foreign Policy”:

“But the real impetus for the transformation rests squarely with a quasi-governmental organization, the Gaddafi Foundation for International Charities and Development. With Saif al-Islam, one of Gaddafi’s sons, as its chairman, and university professor Yousef Sawani as its director, the organization has been outspoken on the need to improve the country’s human rights record. It has had a number of showdowns with the Internal Security Ministry, with whom relations remain frosty. Saif al-Islam is also responsible for the establishment of the country’s two semi private newspapers, Oea and Quryna… it is impossible to underestimate the importance of the efforts made so far.”



The two private newspapers. Run by the dictator’s son?

Sarah Leah Whitson is the anti-Israeli activist who runs the Human Rights Watch section charged with assessing the human rights records of countries in the Middle East and North Africa.


Among other “useful idiots” in the Western media taken in by the regime’s propaganda:

* CNN’s Becky Anderson: Saif is an “open advocate of democracy”

* The New York Times’ Landon Thomas Jr: Saif is a “symbol of [Libya's] hopes for reform and openness.”

* The Financial Times’ Heba Saleh: Saif is “reform-minded… a defender of liberty.”


In 2009, Gaddafi bought his son a £10m ($16m) neo-Georgian eight-bedroom mansion in north London, complete with his own swimming pool, sauna room, whirlpool bath and suede-lined cinema room. Gaddafi’s son socialized with among others, the Queen’s son, Prince Andrew, and then played a leading role in talks that led to the 2009 release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the man convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing in which 270 people died. While flying Megrahi home to Libya on a private jet, Gaddafi Jr gave a television interview in which he said the release had been linked to lucrative business deals with the British government.


Saif’s younger brother Mutassim Gaddafi is the Libyan regime’s national security adviser, with a strong role in the military and security forces, and another brother Khamis Gaddafi heads the army’s 32nd Brigade, which is the regime’s best trained and best equipped force.


UPDATE: Today Human Rights Watch did a belated about turn on Gaddafi, issuing the following statement:

“Anyone, including Muammar Gaddafi, ordering or carrying out atrocities should know they will be held individually accountable for their actions, including unlawful killings of protesters,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “We fear the death toll will rise much higher unless Gaddafi ends his bloody attempts to suppress dissent. He should call his forces including mercenaries off immediately.”




Here is the foolish (but much admired) Stephen Walt (author of the best-selling conspiracy theory “The Israel Lobby”) downplaying the evils of Gaddafi in Foreign Policy magazine last month, while he was visiting Libya:


Walt: “Libya doesn’t feel like other police states that I have visited. I caught no whiff of an omnipresent security service … The Libyans with whom I spoke were open and candid and gave no sign of being worried about being overheard or reported or anything like that … I tried visiting various political websites from my hotel room and had no problems, although other human rights groups report that Libya does engage in selective filtering of some political websites critical of the regime… Libya appears to be more open than contemporary Iran or China and the overall atmosphere seemed far less oppressive than most places I visited in the old Warsaw Pact…

The remarkable improvement in U.S.-Libyan relations reminds us that deep political conflicts can sometimes be resolved without recourse to preventive war or “regime change.” One hopes that the United States and Libya continue to nurture and build a constructive relationship, and that economic and political reform continues there. (I wouldn’t mind seeing more dramatic political reform -- of a different sort -- here too).”


The need for political reform in Libya is parallel to the need in the United States?


One can compare Walt’s view with that of a more reliable commentator, Michael Totten. (Totten is a subscriber to this email list.) He writes:

“I managed to finagle a visa for myself just after Libyan-American relations defrosted in 2004, and the U.S. government lifted the travel ban. I was one of the first Americans to legally visit the country in decades, and what I saw there was appalling. The capital looks and feels gruesomely communist, which wasn’t surprising, considering that Qaddafi’s ‘Green Book,’ where he fleshes out his lunatic ideology, is a bizarre mixture of the Communist Manifesto and the Koran (though references to Islam are stripped out). What did surprise me was how much terror he instilled in the hearts and minds of his people. No one I met said they liked him. No one would even speak of him unless there were no other Libyans present. Some were even afraid to utter his name, as though saying it out loud might conjure him. ‘We hate that fucking bastard, we have nothing to do with him,’ one shopkeeper told me when we were alone. ‘We keep our heads down and our mouths shut. We do our jobs, we go home. If I talk, they will take me out of my house in the night and put me in prison.’

“The system he runs is basically Stalinist and one of the last total surveillance police states in the world. Freedom House ranks Libya near North Korea and Turkmenistan, the most oppressive countries by far, in its utter dearth of human and political rights. I believe it. Obvious intelligence agents worked my hotel lobby, staring at and listening to everyone, and the U.S. State Department warned Americans at the time that even hotel rooms for foreigners likely were bugged.”



You can track the latest events inside Libya here.

Here is a helpful interactive map of protests across Libya.



Just in case Stephen Walt, Sarah Leah Whitson, the London School of Economics and others claim that until last weekend they didn’t know what Gaddafi was like, here is a video from 1984:


I attach three articles below. The writers of all three articles are subscribers to this list.

[All notes above by Tom Gross]



Make Libya a no fly zone
By Joshua Muravchik
World Affairs Journal
February 22, 2011

Moammar Gadhafi is willing to fight to the last Libyan to cling to power. The stakes in this mounting battle are bigger than Libya itself.

One of the tragic realities of politics is that while dictators do get overthrown, it is usually only the more moderate ones. Outright tyrants are harder to topple.

Yes, Mubarak’s rule rested on force and intimidation (and corruption). But Mubarak had little Egyptian blood on his hands, and in the end he went peacefully (although not of his own free will). Tunisia’s Ben Ali was more repressive, and perhaps he would have shed blood. But the army switched sides at the get-go, so this was never tested. Sadly, however, those regimes that are insouciant about killing their own citizens often prevail. “A whiff of grapeshot,” as Carlyle characterized Napoleon’s actions against rebels in Paris, usually works.

The ouster of Ceaucescu was one of the glorious exceptions to this rule. But the outcomes of Iran in June 2009 and Tiananmen Square in 1989 are more typical. Fascist and Communist regimes have been brought down, but usually by outside force (e.g., Mussolini in Italy, Hitler in Germany) or by a change of heart from within (Gorbachev in the USSR), and very rarely by a revolt from below.

The Baathist regimes of Syria and Iraq did not cavil about mowing down tens of thousands to fend off challenges.Gadhafi is cut from similar cloth. Nonetheless, he totters, and his fall, if it happens, will be consequential out of all proportion to the importance of his small country.

The lesson will inevitably be factored into the thinking of other dictatorships and their populations. Such regimes always rest on a calculus of fear (even though some may be popular at the outset). People who are groaning under autocraticrule are nonetheless unlikely to risk death or harm in a hopeless cause. They are more likely to take risks if they believe that their side will triumph. While a victory by the Libyan people over Gadhafi would embolden the oppressed elsewhere, at the same time, it will make rulers think twice before resorting to extreme brutality, knowing it may fail and only fan the hatred for themselves.

For this reason, it would be best if Gadhafi ends as the “martyr” he claims he wishes to be — although he would be a martyr not to Allah but to his own megalomania — with his body dragged through the streets or hung by the ankles like Mussolini’s. Conversely, although it is easy to understand Egyptians’ desires for a settling of accounts with Mubarak, it will be best if he is allowed to live out his days unmolested in Sharm el Sheikh. Then, the message would go forth to dictators everywhere: step down without a fight and you will be allowed a gentle retirement; shed blood and you will die ignominiously.

The fall of Gadhafi, despite the terrible tactics he has used these last days, would mean that no dictator in the region, and perhaps beyond, is safe. In particular, it would bring new pressure on the Syrian regime. Nasser in Egypt, the Baathists of Syria and Iraq, and Gadhafi were the avatars of the pan-Arab, Arab socialist era in Middle East thinking. If Gadhafi falls, Bashar al-Assad will be the cheese that stands alone.

The Obama administration should do all in its power to make sure that happens. A simple measure would be to declare Libya a no-fly zone, as we did to in northern and southern Iraq in the 1990s to protect the Kurds and Shia. Gadhafi is using planes and helicopters against his own civilians. It would be an easy matter for the US to prevent this. He has other heavy weapons that he has thrown into the fray, but were the US to deny him the skies, this would likely prove to be the straw that breaks his back. It would not entail the placement of a single US soldier and would be widely applauded by Libyans and probably by public opinion throughout the region, albeit not by all governments.

The leading goal of Obama’s foreign policy has been to improve America’s image in the Muslim world. Here is something concrete he can do right now that would achieve that goal and do a lot of other good as well.



Is the Obama administration soft on Gaddafi?
By Jackson Diehl
The Washington Post
February 22, 2011

For the Obama administration, Libya ought to be the easy case in the Middle East’s turmoil. Dictator Moammar Gaddafi, aptly labeled a “mad dog” by Ronald Reagan 25 years ago, is no friend of the United States, unlike Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak. And he has launched a shocking war against his own people, killing at least hundreds and probably thousands in attacks by warplanes and foreign mercenaries. On Tuesday he gave a bloodcurdling speech in which he vowed to fight to the last drop of blood and cited the Tiananmen square massacre as an example.

Yet the administration so far has declined to directly condemn Gaddafi, call for his ouster, or threaten sanctions. Instead, it has repeated the same bland language about restraint and “universal rights” that it has used to respond to the uprisings in Egypt, Bahrain, and other countries with pro-U.S. regimes.

Hours after Gaddafi spoke on Tuesday, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley was asked at his regular briefing for reporters about the dictator’s demented vow “to stay and to die a martyr and never give up.”

“Again, you know, this ultimately and fundamentally an issue between, you know, the Libyan government, its leader, and the Libyan people,” Crowley replied. Noting that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had expressed “grave concerns about the Libyan response to these protesters,” he added, “We want to see universal rights respected and we want to see the government respond to the aspirations of its people.”

Really? Given that massacres on the scale of Tiananmen may well be taking place in Tripoli and other cities, this response was flabbergasting. Does the United States really believe that crimes against humanity are “an issue between the Libyan government...and the Libyan people?” Does it seriously believe that Gaddafi will respond to “the aspiration of [the] people” after his chilling rant?

Reporters at the State Department were quick to ask these questions. “P.J., this is essentially, you know, a bloodbath that is going on there,” came the first. “And it seems when you were talking about this that it’s a very calm approach...Is there a sense of urgency?”

“Of course,” Crowley replied. But then he said that the U.S. response would come through the U.N. Security Council, which is meeting Tuesday afternoon -- and where Russia and China are likely to oppose meaningful action.

Question: “P.J., how can you frame the debate as it’s internal things between the Libyan people and government when some reports talked about thousands of people dead...Isn’t surely the responsibility of the United States to stand up against thousands of people killed?”

Crowley: “Well, and the secretary of state said, you know, very clearly and very compellingly in her statement yesterday that the bloodshed needs to stop.” She did not, however, threaten sanctions, call for Gaddafi’s departure or even directly blame him for the killing.

Question: “Well, P.J., part of the problem is that here you’ve been talking about...how this has to be resolved through an internal debate in Libya. You want to see the government engage the protesters. And the problem with that is that the debate so far has been anti-aircraft guns and bullets and, you know, fighter jets bombing the people. That’s the government side of the debate.”

All too true. Crowley’s answer: “We are going to respond as an international community. We’ll have a response through the Security Council.”

What could explain this weak response? Is the administration worried about U.S. energy companies that recently began operating in Libya, or the safety of American citizens it is now seeking to evacuate? Does it imagine that it needs to preserve a relationship with Gaddafi, in case he kills enough of his people to survive?

Whatever the reason, the administration’s response to the Libyan bloodshed lacks a sense of morality as well as common sense. If Gaddafi continues to strafe and slaughter civilians in the streets of Tripoli, Crowley’s words could come back to haunt him.

UPDATE: Clinton said later Tuesday that the safety of U.S. citizens in Libya, including embassy employees awaiting evacuation, is the “highest priority” for the Obama administration--which, as I suggested above, may explain the mild rhetoric so far. “Now, as always, the safety and wellbeing of Americans has to be our highest priority,” Clinton told reporters at the State Department in Washington. She added that the U.S. joins the international community in “strongly condemning” the crackdown.



This is the strongest lead editorial I have seen in many years from a mainstream liberal-leaning publication, sharply condemning the Palestinian leadership for its “spectacularly self-defeating stubbornness” and seeming lack of interest in wanting to reach a peace deal with Israel.

-- Tom Gross


Abbas proves he prefers posturing to a peace process
Lead editorial
The Washington Post
February 18, 2011


PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT Mahmoud Abbas claims to be interested in negotiating a two-state peace settlement with Israel. For two years he has enjoyed the support of a U.S. president more sympathetic to the Palestinian cause than most, if not all, of his predecessors. Yet Mr. Abbas has mostly refused to participate in the direct peace talks that Barack Obama made one of his top foreign policy priorities - and now he has shown himself to be bent on embarrassing and antagonizing the U.S. administration.

Rejecting direct appeals from both Mr. Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mr. Abbas chose to persist on Friday with a proposed U.N. Security Council resolution that called on Israel to cease settlement construction in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Though the administration supports this position - and has counterproductively pressed it at the expense of its larger diplomatic aims - it vetoed the resolution, as Mr. Abbas knew it would do. For a number of good reasons, including its hope of preserving the chance of peace negotiations, the Obama administration could not allow a one-sided U.N. condemnation of Israel.

The only effect of the Palestinian initiative will be to embarrass the Obama administration at a delicate moment, when popular uprisings around the Middle East already are challenging pro-American leaders. It will have no impact on Israeli settlement construction, and it will deal a further blow to the prospects for peace talks. It will bolster the right-wing Israeli government. Conceivably, it could cause Arab protests now focused on autocratic rule to take an ugly anti-American turn.

Mr. Abbas has known all of this all along. Yet he refused to set aside the resolution even when the administration offered a generous compromise - a proposed “presidential statement” from the Security Council criticizing Israeli settlements as well as the firing of rockets at Israel from Gaza. Mr. Obama is taking considerable heat from Congress just for proposing this outcome - and yet in a 50-minute phone call Thursday, he was unable to win the Palestinian president’s assent.

Mr. Abbas’s stubbornness might seem spectacularly self-defeating - but only if one assumes that he is genuinely interested in a peace deal. In fact, the U.N. gambit allows him to posture as a champion of the Palestinian cause without having to consider any of the hard choices that would be needed to found a Palestinian state. It enables him to deflect criticism from the rival Hamas movement about his friendly relations with the United States. It might even allow him to head off a popular Palestinian rebellion against his own autocratic behavior - Mr. Abbas has failed to schedule overdue elections, including for his own post as president.

The Obama administration has all along insisted that Mr. Abbas is willing and able to make peace with Israel - despite considerable evidence to the contrary. If the U.N. resolution veto has one good effect, perhaps it will be to prompt a reevaluation of a leader who has repeatedly proved both weak and intransigent.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.