President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing covert U.S. government support for rebel forces seeking to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, government officials told Reuters on Wednesday.
Obama signed the order, known as a presidential “finding”, within the last two or three weeks, according to government sources familiar with the matter.
Such findings are a principal form of presidential directive used to authorize secret operations by the Central Intelligence Agency. This is a necessary legal step before such action can take place but does not mean that it will.
The CIA and the White House declined immediate comment.
News that Obama had given the authorization surfaced as the President and other U.S. and allied officials spoke openly about the possibility of sending arms supplies to Gaddafi’s opponents, who are fighting better-equipped government forces.***
People familiar with U.S. intelligence procedures said that Presidential covert action “findings” are normally crafted to provide broad authorization for a range of potential U.S. government actions to support a particular covert objective.
In order for specific operations to be carried out under the provisions of such a broad authorization — for example the delivery of cash or weapons to anti-Gaddafi forces — the White House also would have to give additional “permission” allowing such activities to proceed.
Former officials say these follow-up authorizations are known in the intelligence world as “‘Mother may I’ findings.”
The Arab League no-fly zone mission keeps getting bigger and bigger.
*** Update ***
Now I don’t want 500 people coming in stomping their feet and telling me this isn’t Iraq, but seriously, what is the first name that comes to mind when you read this:
The new leader of Libya’s opposition military spent the past two decades in suburban Virginia but felt compelled — even in his late-60s — to return to the battlefield in his homeland, according to people who know him.
I know the name that popped into my head… And no, it wasn’t Jane Mayer.