For Some in Congress, an Unexpected Thank-You Note
By Mark Landler
The New York Times
June 10, 2011
Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi has written to members of Congress thanking them for criticizing President Obama last week over his involvement in the NATO-led military campaign in Libya.
“I want to express my sincere gratitude for your thoughtful discussion of the issues,” Colonel Qaddafi wrote in the letter, a copy of which was supplied to The New York Times by a person seeking to defend the administration’s policy. “We are confident that history will see the wisdom of your country in debating these issues.”
Colonel Qaddafi did not refer specifically to a resolution passed by the House that rebuked the administration for maintaining an American role in the campaign without the consent of Congress. But he expressed hope that the lawmakers would continue to press the administration.
“We are counting on the United States Congress to its continued investigation of military activities of NATO and its allies to confirm what we believe is a clear violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973,” Colonel Qaddafi said in the three-page letter, which was not addressed to any particular lawmaker.
A spokesman for Speaker John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, who introduced last week’s resolution, said his office had received the letter but was not able to vouch for its authenticity. The letter was received by the administration through the same channels that Colonel Qaddafi has sent other letters, another official said.
“If authentic, this incoherent letter only reinforces that Qaddafi must go. There’s no disagreement about that,” said the spokesman for Mr. Boehner, Brendan Buck. “That’s why so many Americans have questions — which the White House refuses to answer — about the administration committing U.S. resources to an operation that doesn’t make his removal a goal.”
The Libyan leader has maintained a vigorous one-way correspondence with President Obama over the last two years, sending him several letters that have tried to appeal to his sense of justice and fairness.
In a letter in April, shortly after the NATO bombing campaign began, he addressed the president as “our son” and pleaded with him to stop the military operation. “Despite all this you will always remain our son whatever happened,” he wrote.
In the letter to Congress, Colonel Qaddafi appealed to the lawmakers, “as the great Democracy, to assist us to determine our future as a people.” He invited members to send a fact-finding group to Libya to investigate the country’s democracy and reports of human-rights abuses inside the country.
The resolution submitted by Mr. Boehner demanded that the White House answer questions about the goals of the military campaign. But it did not advocate withdrawing from the operation. Indeed, the speaker introduced the resolution in part to head off a competing resolution, proposed by Representative Dennis J. Kucinich, an Ohio Democrat, which demanded that the United States withdraw altogether.