Like many people on this site, I had mixed feelings about the US' involvement in Libya. While the Gaddafi regime was a dictatorial one, the track record of US intervention in the Arab world has been...less than stellar, shall we say. In addition, it was, strictly speaking, in violation of the War Powers Act, since Congress did not authorize any military action after the Presidential grace period was up. People would say, "why quibble over technicalities?", but one of the fundamental tenets of our democracy—indeed, of most modern democracies—was that the president ought not be above the law, and as such I was opposed to it continuing without getting legal authorization.
So, when Dennis Kucinich announced his opposition to the US' involvement in Libya, I, like many others, assumed his stance was born out of an opposition to the US imperial war machine—however misguided that might be versus Gaddhafi—and a desire to maintain the separation of powers and the rule of law in American government.
And then, this morning, I found something which shook my confidence in him. It's below the squiggly thing.
Al Jazeera English had done a report regarding the Libyan aftermath, and some documents they had found at Libyan Intelligence Headquarters. They presented on two people. One was about a former State Department Bureaucrat named David Welch, who was giving the Gaddafi regime advice about improving their public relations. Since he works for Bechtel now, I am not surprised that's he's giving advice to dictators who might help his company out by handing out construction contacts.
And then I saw the Kucinich bit, which is at 3:06.
According to the document in the report, Kucinich had conversations with aides to Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, whereupon he requested information on such things as any known personal motives for the rebels, their ties to al-Qaeda, evidence of any atrocities, any evidence that the regime was trying to settle the rebellion peacefully. According to the document, this information would have been used as ammunition for Kucinich's opposition in the House, evidence in the lawsuit he brought against the White House, and defending Saif in the ICC, should he be brought before it.
There could be a perfectly logical explanation for this. It could be that Kucinich was asking to inform his position better on Libya. It could be that Saif's aides, who wrote the document, spun a request for information into tacit support of Saif and the Gaddafi regime. But I don't know if that's the truth. And this document, taken at face value, looks very bad.
I think I owe it to myself to see if he has an explanation for this. But, at the end of the day, I will need one. Because as much as I like the man, as much as he has been a clear voice for progressive values, I cannot tolerate anyone actively, directly, assisting dictators and despots.
And if he has done these things, I am through with him.
10:35 AM PT: ItsSimpleSimon posted a link to this Atlantic article which has a reply from Kucinich's office:
Al Jazeera found a document written by a Libyan bureaucrat to other Libyan bureaucrats. All it proves is that the Libyans were reading the Washington Post, and read there about my efforts to stop the war. I can't help what the Libyans put in their files. My opposition to the war in Libya, even before it formally started, was public and well known. My questions about the legitimacy of the war, who the opposition was, and what NATO was doing, were also well known and consistent with my official duties. Any implication I was doing anything other than trying to bring an end to an unauthorized war is fiction.