One Way to Make Sending Frank Wisner to “Negotiate” with Mubarak Look Smart

CNN is reporting that Curt Weldon, the ethically and legally challenged former Congressman with ties to Manucher Ghorbanifar, has gone to Libya to try to negotiate with Muammar Qaddafi. In a NYT op-ed, Weldon makes the case for why he’s the guy to persuade Qaddafi to step aside.

Seven years later I am back in Libya, this time on a much different mission, as the leader of a small private delegation, at the invitation of Colonel Qaddafi‘s chief of staff and with the knowledge of the Obama administration and members of Congress from both parties. Our purpose is to meet with Colonel Qaddafi today and persuade him to step aside.

[snip]

First, we must engage face-to-face with Colonel Qaddafi and persuade him to leave, as my delegation hopes to do. I’ve met him enough times to know that it will be very hard to simply bomb him into submission.

Simultaneously, we must obtain an immediate United Nations-monitored cease-fire, with the Libyan Army withdrawing from contested cities and rebel forces ending attempts to advance.

Then we must identify and engage with those leaders who, if not perfect, are pragmatic and reform-minded and thus best positioned to lead the country.

[snip]

The world agrees that Colonel Qaddafi must go, even though no one has a plan, a foundation for civil society has not been constructed and we are not even sure whom we should trust. But in the meantime, the people of Libya deserve more than bombs. [my emphasis]

Noah Shachtman elaborates on the history Weldon and Qaddafi have in common. The short version? At a time when Weldon served on Qaddafi’s “foundation,” he was pitching selling arms to him.

It wasn’t long ago — April, 2008, to be exact — that Weldon was boasting in a report that he had become the “1st non-Libyan Board Member of the Ghadaffi Foundation.” During a trip to Tripoli the month before, the self-proclaimed “friend of Libya” carried “a personal letter from Libyan Chamber [of Commerce] President to U.S. Chamber President.” Weldon also visited with with the country’s “Nuclear Ministry Leadership and agreed to reinforce U.S. nuclear cooperation/collaboration.”

Finally, Weldon agreed “to quickly return to Libya for meetings with [Gadhafi’s] son Morti regarding defense and security cooperation.”

Two weeks later, Defense Solutions — a company which, at the time, counted Weldon as a key executive and adviser — drew up a proposal to refurbish the country’s fleet of armored vehicles, including its T-72 tanks, BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles and BTR-60 armored personnel carriers.

Now, granted, Weldon says he is undertaking this trip with the knowledge–not the endorsement–of the Obama Administration. Still, I can’t help but wondering whether this is an elaborate plot (with Weldon, there’s always a plot) to make Obama’s decision to send Frank Wisner–also a business associate–to negotiate with Hosni Mubarak look remarkably smart by comparison. After all, both Wisner and Weldon have troubling conflicts that make them poor choices to represent our country’s interests. But Wisner, at least, is diplomatic and sane. Weldon? I’m not so sure.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

  1. scribe says:

    Hard to believe, but it’s been almost 5 years since the feds raided Weldon’s home and office. And yet, no charges have been forthcoming.

    One wonders whether Weldon tucked a clearance letter in his passport before going over to Libya, or if he’s been promised one on his return….

  2. Teddy Partridge says:

    Do people just show up at the door to the Oval Office and claim, “I have lots of experience with this!” and this President says, “Oh, you are just what we need!”

    Except, of course, for Steve Rattner.

    • emptywheel says:

      I think you mean, “except for Paul Krugman and Joe Stiglitz.”

      In Rattner’s case, they went out of their way to find someone who wasn’t qualified.

      • Teddy Partridge says:

        Well, I presume in Rattner’s case, under my example, he peeked in the Oval Office door and said, “I know nothing about this!” and O said, “Great, you’re just the man we need!”

  3. orionATL says:

    “…in a new york times op-ed weldon makes the case…”

    well,

    this is swell!

    the nytimes is WORKING CLOSELY with the prez’s nat’l sec council or sec of state

    to insure that peace and democracy

    return to the libyan plutocracy.

    full-page ad, p.r. pitch to the american people:

    “the new york times – a team player in our gov’t’s national security enterprise.”