oddest oldest threesome - McCain, Lieberman, and Graham - went to Tripoli in August 2009 to meet with the Libyan government. Bush having declared Qaddafi our new good buddy after Qaddafi made polite noises about not killing quite so many people.
The three Senate hawks discussed in detail the Qaddafi regime’s security needs with Libyas National Security Adviser, Qaddafi’s son Muatassim. According to the cable:
5.(C) Senator McCain assured Muatassim that the United States wanted to provide Libya with the equipment it needs for its [a Libyan security program]. He stated that he understood Libya’s requests regarding the rehabilitation of its eight C130s [a transport plane] and pledged to see what he could do to move things forward in Congress. He encouraged Muatassim to keep in mind the long-term perspective of bilateral security engagement and to remember that small obstacles will emerge from time to time that can be overcome.
A C-130 is a transport plane, as noted. In fact the C-130 may very well be the transport plane before whom all others tremble. It's not the biggest or the fastest; it has, however, been in continuous production since 1954. It is flown by more than 60 nations. It's the largest plane ever to land on and take off from an aircraft carrier; it is the plane used for flights into and out of Antarctica. They are legendary for their ability to land on, and take off from, anything reasonably near to a smooth surface while carrying a lot of stuff - 45,000 pounds of stuff for the C-130H Libya flies. That's the equivalent of 90 combat troops, or 2 armored personnel carriers. And you can create a "runway" out of a stretch of desert by removing the larger rocks and trees with hand tools. As boring transport planes go, the C-130 is pretty cool.
Do you suppose that having half a dozen or so of those might have been helpful to Col. Qaddafi in his efforts to slaughter his countrymen prior to the establishment of the no-fly zone?
More below the Orange Squiggle of Power.
At another point, McCain and Graham reiterated pledges to push to fulfill the Qaddafi regime requests at the Pentagon and on the Hill:
Senators McCain and Graham conveyed the U.S. interest in continuing the progress of the bilateral relationship and pledged to try to resolve the C130 issue with Congress and Defense Secretary Gates.
OK, now we've got Graham as well, trying to improve Qaddafi's military capabilities.
As for the pustular boil:
According to a leaked August 2009 U.S. diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks recounting the Senators’ junket, the neoconservative Connecticut Senator captured the dynamic of aligning with a brutal dictator:
Lieberman called Libya an important ally in the war on terrorism, noting that common enemies sometimes make better friends.
The idea of a war on terrorism may, possibly, be Dubya's worst gift to the American people. It certainly is a useful paradigm for those who want to support dictators.
But then - who could have predicted? - the political winds shifted.
When suddenly — as if Qaddafi’s repression had emerged from out of the blue — McCain and his clique returned to their perches as the staunchest advocates of U.S. military action in Liyba, taking to the airwaves to lament the U.S.’s mere three-week delay to build international consensus and calling for arming the Libyan rebels.
I wonder if anyone on the Sunday Morning Talking Heads Fests will ask Senator McGrumpyPants about his erratic behavior?
Oh, I almost forgot - this is good news for John McCain!