Gaddafi’s US lobbyists included Richard Perle

Laura Rozen writes at Politico:

As several Libyan diplomats Monday denounced their country’s four-decade ruler Col. Muammar Qadhafi for unleashing the army against anti-government protesters, U.S. consultancies that have worked to burnish Libya’s and Qadhafi’s U.S. image were laying low.

Several consulting, law and lobbying firms have moved in to advise the Libyan government and energy interests since U.S. sanctions were lifted on Libya in 2004, according to Justice Department records, including Fahmy Hudome International, and White & Case LLP.

The Livingston Group canceled its $360,000-per-year lobbying contract with the Libyan government as well as one with an associated Qadhafi charity in September 2009, following the hero’s welcome Libyan leaders gave for the convicted Lockerbie bomber upon his release in August 2009 from a Scottish prison on humanitarian grounds.

One of the more unlikely image-mongers that has worked to burnish Qadhafi’s and Libya’s image never registered with the Justice Department. Prominent neoconservative Richard Perle, the former Reagan-era Defense Department official and George W. Bush-era chairman of the Defense Policy Board, traveled to Libya twice in 2006 to meet with Qadhafi, and afterward briefed Vice President Dick Cheney on his visits, according to documents released by a Libyan opposition group in 2009.

Perle traveled to Libya as a paid adviser to the Monitor Group, a prestigious Boston-based consulting firm with close ties to leading professors at the Harvard Business School. The firm named Perle a senior adviser in 2006.

The Monitor Group described Perle’s travel to Libya and the recruitment of several other prominent thinkers and former officials to burnish Libya’s and Qadhafi’s image in a series of documents obtained and released by a Libyan opposition group, the National Conference of the Libyan Opposition, in 2009.

The Monitor Group did not return phone calls left at its Boston offices Monday. But Monitor describes, in a series of documents published by the National Conference of the Libyan Opposition in 2009, an “action plan” to "introduce and bring to Libya a meticulously selected group of independent and objective experts" to travel to Libya, meet senior officials, hold lectures and workshops, and promote the image of Libya and its controversial ruler.

A 2007 Monitor memo named among the prominent figures it had recruited to travel to Libya and meet with Qadhafi “as part of the Project to Enhance the Profile of Libya and Muammar Qadhafi” Perle, historian Francis Fukuyama, Princeton Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis, famous Nixon interviewer David Frost, and MIT media lab founder Nicholas Negroponte, the brother of former deputy secretary of state and director of national intelligence John Negroponte.

Speaking for myself, I favor then-senator and now vice president Joe Biden’s approach to Gaddafi when they met in 2004. Unlike at least one Republican congressman, Biden managed to curb his enthusiasm and cut through the crap about the Libyan leader and his then-new eagerness to establish ties with the US.

Biden said, “Some people think this is other than a pure unadulterated deal. They think that this is historic speech, a new beginning, a gateway to the Arab world, [Gaddafi] could be a major, positive force. Malarkey.”

Biden said Gaddafi is “a fascinating man with not an ounce of democracy in him.”

Said Biden:

“He starts talking about the Green Book, like Mao’s Little Red Book. And he said, ‘We’re an Athenian democracy, the people make the decisions in the neighborhoods, in the streets, in the dah-duh-dah-duh-dah.’ And I said, ‘That is really fascinating. That means they can vote you out of office then, right?’ And that was the only time there was any animation. He said, ‘No, I started the revolution.’ And I said, ‘You know, we had a revolution. We had a guy like you. His name was George Washington.’ And I said, ‘We kicked him out after eight years.”

Qadaffi asked Biden why US-Libyan relations had gotten off on the wrong foot.

“And I said, ‘That’s easy. You’re a terrorist. You killed people we like. And I said, ‘For example there’s 35 kids in the school I went to [Syracuse University in New York] you blew up over Lockerbie.’ And he looked at me and he said, quote, ‘That’s logical.”

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