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Did a former State Department official tell Qaddafi how to manipulate the US?

That's the implication of documents found by Al Jazeera in Tripoli. The documents also suggest that US Rep. Dennis Kucinich tried to help provide legal assistance to the Libyan regime.

By Staff writer / September 2, 2011

In this March 17, 2010 file photo, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D) of Ohio, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Harry Hamburg/AP/File


A producer for Al Jazeera found documents at the sacked Libyan intelligence headquarters in Tripoli that say former Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch met with emissaries of Muammar Qaddafi in early August and advised the regime on the best route for its own survival.

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Al Jazeera also found a summary of a conversation between an emissary of Mr. Qaddafi and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D) of Ohio. The summary says Mr. Kucinich wanted evidence of Al Qaeda ties or evidence of atrocities carried out by the rebels to use in support of Qaddafi's son Saif al-Islam at the International Criminal Court and in filing a lawsuit against NATO.

Kucinich told the Atlantic Wire that all the document mentioning him proves is that "that the Libyans were reading the Washington Post, and read there about my efforts to stop the war." But the Wire notes that the Post article cited in the Libyan summary "doesn't summarize Kucinich's more detailed questions about the intervention" that the summary references. Regardless, Kucinich's opposition to the NATO air campaign against Qaddafi is already in the public record.

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But Mr. Welch, who in 2008 helped broker the deal in which Libya promised $1.5 billion in reparations to families of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing in exchange for full normalization of ties, has been largely silent in public on Libya.

His principal partner in the Lockerbie negotiations was Saif al-Islam. He also met directly with Qaddafi prior to the deal's signing in August 2008. When the deal was signed, Welch said payment of compensation to the Lockerbie victims "will mark the completion of a process that began in 2001, that has already seen Libya take steps forward as a model among nations to renounce terror and weapons of mass destruction."

Welch is now the senior official in North Africa and the Middle East for the Bechtel Corporation, a job he took almost immediately after retiring from the State Department in December 2008. He's spent much of the past three years seeking to expand the construction company's extensive business interests in Libya. Such "revolving door" jobs, in which US government officials get private sector jobs that benefit from the contacts and relationships they developed while in service of the state, are common in Washington.

Before war broke out, Bechtel was building a 1,400 megawatt power plant for the government near Qaddafi's hometown of Sirte. In 2009, it opened its first representative office in Tripoli since the 1960s. Bechtel's press release on the new office referred to a Libyan "construction frenzy" and said that "business was booming" in Libya since international sanctions were lifted in 2003.


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