Death of Moammar Gadhafi: Intriguing Details on the End Game are already beginning to emerge

The death of Moammar Gadhaffi is still being carried as “Breaking News” on CNN and the other networks, but already some fascinating details of the behind the scenes details are beginning to emerge. Some of these are just intriguing on their own merit; other details shed light on the “lead from behind” approach to Libya that earned ridicule at the outset, and now seems deserving of at least a modicum of respect.

Some of the details that intelligence sources are confirming:

  • Gadhaffi had been under surveillance for the last week as the noose had been tightened around him in Sirte.  He had broken his rule of telephone silence and there had been intercepts of him using a cell phone or satellite phone.
  • Although the US never put any military “boots on the ground” in Libya, CIA agents were present in Sirte and they, along with British MI6 agents, were instrumental in keeping an eye on Gadhaffi in recent days.
  • The final act came when Gadhaffi, in a convoy of as many as 100 vehicles, tried to escape Sirte.  British RAF GR4 Tornados were in the air over Sirte and helped provide early warning of the scape attempt, as well as ongoing intelligence on vehicle movements.
  • Gadhaffi and the convoy were officially cleared as a military target  only after the escape attempt was launched, and the convoy fired on civilians in its bid to escape.
  • A US Predator drone, flown out of a base in Siciliy and controlled by an operator in a base near Las Vegas, struck the convoy with a number of Hellfire anti-tank missiles and other armaments.
  • A French Mirage bombed the road ahead of the convoy, effectively bottling them up, allowing rebel forces to close in for what would ultimately be the kill.
In coming days and weeks, there will be analysis of the overall Libya mission, which came under heavy criticism from both the right and left — the right ridiculing the “lead from behind” mantra of the Obama administration, and the left complaining about the engagement as unnecessary and unrelated to US security interests.  (To be sure, elements of the left applauded the intervention, mainly on humanitarian grounds).  The cost?  Defense department statistics show that the Libya effort, with the US taking a back seat to France and the UK, cost $5m/day and has lasted for 216 — thus $1.1B so far.  Sound like a lot?
Well — consider the following.  Afghanistan will have cost $557B by the end of FY 2012; and Iraq comes in a cool $1 Trillion.  So that means the entire Libyan episode cost 2/10 of 1 percent of Afghanistan’s cost, an less than 1/10 of 1 percent of Iraq’s cost.

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